When we think of hiring seasonal employees, we tend to think of the retail rush over the holidays or construction season from early spring through until the onset of winter. In our region however, agriculture and farming are also extremely important for our local economy, so hiring seasonal staff for the summer and harvest season is essential to keep this industry running smoothly. With that in mind, we’ve outlined the top 10 tips for attracting the best seasonal employees for your busy season:
- Start early
Don’t wait until June to hire for July. Start as early as you can, preferably 3 months in advance. In fact, if you are applying to any government programs for student, temporary (foreign) or agricultural workers, start in December of the previous year to make sure all of your paperwork is complete.
- Hire local
Your local pool of workers should be the first place you start. Talk to your current and former staff, clients, business partners, local retirees, and so on. Take advantage of free job posting and recruitment supports such as the ones offered by us here at FOCUS Employment Services in Alliston and Angus.
- Hire younger workers & students
Create partnerships with local colleges or other training programs who can connect you with students. You can also apply for the Canada Summer Jobs Program which financially assists employers who offer quality work experiences for people 15-30 year old, as long as your position involves some skill development (stacking crates every day, for example, would not be considered skilled training, but training on various machines, helping in the office, learning harvesting processes, leadership roles and so on would be).
- Hire through the Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program LINK
For employers who simply can’t find Canadian citizens or permanent residents to fill positions, they can apply to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TWP) and the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). Employers must provide transportation and housing for these workers, meet various employment standards and pass government inspections.
- Draft up a great job posting
Especially for seasonal employment, it’s important to be very clear on your job posting so that no time is wasted by screening or hiring an unsuitable candidate. Outline specifically what it is you need and what the job requirements are. If workers will be “outdoors all day doing heavy lifting”, it’s up to you to clarify how many hours and how many pounds. You’ll also want to list the pay, a clear start and end date, and previous experience required. To stand out from other companies, consider offering bonuses, benefits or other appealing incentives and include this in your posting to attract top candidates.
- Give them an opportunity to work year round
While you won’t be able to offer full-time permanent jobs to many of your seasonal staff, if you see great potential in a worker or two, offer them a more permanent role where budgets allow.
- Be flexible
The new generation of ‘gig economy’ workers love flexibility when it comes to their hours of work. It’s also handy for families of young children who may need to have alternate child care arrangements. Be open-minded to varying schedules if it doesn’t negatively impact your operations, as you may attract some solid workers as a result.
- Offer transportation
All through Alliston, Tottenham, Beeton and beyond, there is no public transit, and getting to work is a challenge for many in our community. Consider a morning and evening pick-up at a central location in the nearest town or two, either with your work van or rent out a school bus or other transportation service. There are other employers in our region who do this successfully, and the cost of running that vehicle for an hour or two each day will pay off by having a crew of reliable staff who show up each day
- Provide great onboarding.
No matter what your industry is, it’s important to create a great work culture and start your employees off on the right note:
- Train them thoroughly in various areas of production and don’t forget health and safety training
- Pair a new hire with a more experienced worker
- Create a fun team environment and try some team-building activities
- Make them feel welcome; offer coffee, cold drinks or cookies on occasion
- Reward hard work – either through an ‘employee of the week’ recognition, a small financial incentive or whatever works best in your business
- Conduct employee reviews and track work progress – even for seasonal employees
- Don’t go it alone
You’re busy, and you have a business to run…we understand. That’s why we offer free, local supports for employers. We help you with your job postings, organize job fairs, connect you with available government programs, screen candidates and help you with onboarding…just to name a few. It’s what we do here at FOCUS Employment Services. Be sure to call on us for your seasonal hiring or any questions you have about attracting and retaining quality staff.