Covering staff during Christmas and summer holidays can be a strain on your business – and a headache for HR.
Read our tips on how to plan for seasonal cover.
When running a business, handling annual leave requests can be difficult to get right – and a headache for HR.
Typically, most employees, especially those with families, will take their annual leave during the summer and
Christmas period, which can leave your company understaffed during peak trading times.
What’s the best way to plan seasonal cover for annual leave? Not sure how you should deal with holiday hiring?
Try our tips to help take the stress out of handling holiday cover in your business.
With penalties for parents taking children on holiday in term-time, and the burden of childcare costs and
availability during school breaks, an influx of annual leave requests for the summer months and the Christmas
period is inevitable. Having a documented and well-communicated annual leave policy in place is essential for
managing annual leave fairly. A good annual leave policy can also enhance your employees’ sense of work-life
balance, which in turn helps with employee retention.
When creating your policy, here’s some things you should consider:
Once your annual leave policy is in place, you need to plan how you’ll deal with cover requirements during the
holiday periods. Broadly speaking, there are two approaches:; using your business’s internal resources, and
For several reasons, the best cover for periods of annual leave tends to come from your current employees. They
know your company’s policies and procedures and have been trained to your standards. That’s why it’s
important to specify a minimum notice period for leave requests, so you can have enough time to arrange
It’s a good idea to provide training for when cover is needed. Certain teams may be able to cope with a temporarily
increased workload during holiday periods, and employees should provide thorough handovers for their colleagues
prior to going on leave. Other roles, however, particularly those front-of-house - such as reception – will need
at all times. As part of your on boarding process, provide some training for these roles, to ensure employees are
confident and capable when providing cover for their colleagues. Companies can also actively partner with their
employees when recruiting seasonal workers - some companies even offer incentives to employees who find them
Sometimes, utilising your existing employees to cover annual leave may not be practical, and during especially
busy periods you might need additional resource. In those instances, you’ll need to look at hiring seasonal staff.
It is not uncommon for companies to make the bulk of their revenue during the holiday season, and
businesses can struggle to hire the right amount (and standard) of seasonal staff to meet their needs. Because
of this, competition for workers during holiday periods can be high, especially in areas where the talent pool is
limited. Here’s five tips to help you make seasonal hiring a success.
Beat the competition and start planning your seasonal hiring well in advance. Consider whether casual or
contracted staff would be more beneficial, the seasonal periods you need to cover, and how many new hires
you’ll require. The more time you can allow for the recruitment and training process, the better – not only does
starting early give you your pick of the best candidates before they’ve made other work commitments, itbut it
also helps you avoid the hassle of rushed, last-minute interviews and training as you approach the holiday
Keep a record of the people who have worked for you seasonally before. Reach out to them when you need extra
help. Re-hiring the same people will give you several advantages including their familiarity with your business, its
operations, and your existing teams.
Before listing the roles, consider the resources you’ll need to dedicate to the hiring process. You will need to
evaluate the applications, schedule the interviews, process the hiring paperwork for all your new staff. This could
mean juggling your already stretched resources (if staff are on annual leave).
For this reason, many companies choose to enlist the help of recruiters to manage the search, hiring and
selection process for their seasonal staff. Not only does this reduce the stress and impact on your internal
resources, but it also gives you the peace of mind that experts are managing the process for you.
If the competition for seasonal staff is high, attracting quality talent can be a challenge. Online job listings are
great way to reach a wide audience, while targeted ads allow you to further match with relevant job seekers.
Make it clear the role is seasonal, and specify any shift patterns. Social media can also be a good way to
publicise your seasonal roles and connect with prospective candidates, and allows your audience to share your
listings with their connections, broadening your reach and saving you some of the legwork.
Consider assessing soft or transferable skills while hiring seasonal workers. You may find plenty of candidates
with exactly the soft skill your business needs, even if they do not have relevant work experience. Read our guide
on how to assess candidates for their soft skills as well as how they fit in with your company’s culture.
That said, it is not always practical to hire from scratch every year, or allocate significant budget into
for your seasonal roles. That’s why many businesses choose to partner with specialist staffing companies who
have existing databases of experienced and vetted workers.
Don’t forget the importance of onboarding your holiday hires; get them up to speed as soon as possible on the
role, any technology of processes they’ll need to work with, and ensure they feel like a valuable part of the team.
Investing in onboarding your seasonal staff thoroughly is worth it; not just in terms of competence and
productivity, but you could save on further training and recruitment costs by re-hiring them for future cover.
If you have hired seasonal workers to cover for some of your regular employees, remember to train some of them
for multiple roles. This can make a huge difference to your staffing needs in case a temporary or permanent
employee on duty is unable to work due to illness or other reasons. You may also consider partnering with a
staffing agency who may be able to provide you with a replacement at short notice.
Check out some of our other employer guides:
Hiring? Adecco can help put the right people on your team and give you the support and resources you need to
keep them there. To learn more, contact
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