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Creating an Exceptional Seasonal Staff

Seasonal staffing is part and parcel of the catering and events industry, and with each year’s busy season comes the perennial question: How do you hire and train the right people to make the most out of your rush season? Here are some tips on building your best staff.

Get the most out of recruiting

You’ll probably agree that one of the most important attributes to look for in seasonal staff—not to mention what you look for in your full-time employees—is personality. The right people can take on any event challenge, so make sure to emphasize friendliness, openness to learning and constructive feedback, and problem-solving capabilities in your interviews. One mantra for the best recruiting? Hire early and often. Seek out seasonal candidates several months in advance so that you’re not rushed to fill positions. Organized college students, gig workers, and temp staffers looking for flexibility are more likely to be seeking seasonal jobs farther in advance, so be sure to tap into the right job sites and social media recruiting to capture the best candidates. Once you’ve hired them, get as much detailed information as possible about their skills, flexibility, and scheduling. Create employee profiles to track individual skills, who’s available when, and who can take on new roles. The bigger and more detailed staffer database you can create, the less you’ll be in a bind when the inevitable changes happen.

Tailor your training

Consider how long and how frequently you need to train for each position. Would new hires benefit from multiple, shorter training sessions? One longer sit-down orientation with several on-the-job shifts to put problem-solving into action? For events staffing, on-the-job experience with your company’s specific procedures in mind is your best bet. In addition to creating detailed training manuals and written information about company policies and procedures, consider appointing one or more dedicated recruiters and trainers from among your full-time staff or even hiring a full-time recruiter or trainer to be the expert on your seasonal policies and hires. In each orientation and training, be sure to give examples of common issues that come up during shifts, field questions, and get feedback from new hires about how they’re doing.

Put resources in place

Use event management software like Goodshuffle Pro to create checklists, build digital pull sheets, and track all activity and communication with your seasonal staff. Have accessible copies of your policies and procedures available at each event, and make sure you’ve got managers and senior staff on the ground to facilitate challenges and ensure your events run smoothly and your employees feel supported. A mentoring model can help new hires feel confident and cared for as they embark on shifts. If you can, have individual managers and senior staffers pair up with newbies to show them the ropes.

Get feedback from your clients

The best feedback for how your seasonal staff is performing? Your clients. Their experience of their event is the best data for learning how your seasonal staff represent your business, pull off events with aplomb, and handle on-the-job challenges.

Bring them back

Keep in touch with your seasonal staffers. Send them updates on your company and check in on their availability and interest in maintaining a relationship with you. Let them know about full-time opportunities that come up as well as any special events on the horizon. Ask if they’re interested in on-call shifts, coverage in the off-season, and being kept on an alternate list year-round. Review your compensation and benefits to make sure they’re competitive. Offer perks like discounts on your services, transportation compensation, on-the-job meals, off-the-job social events and more. Cash bonuses, raises, and tips can be the strongest incentives for staffers to return.

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Karen Gordon

Karen Gordon has spent her career growing event and technology companies through consultative sales and strategic growth strategies. She’s developed client and brand experiences for companies such as LivingSocial and Surprise Ride (as seen on Shark Tank). Now, as the VP of Growth at Goodshuffle Pro, she combines her love of both events and technology to drive the company’s growth in revolutionizing the event rental, design, and production industries with modern technology. She’s the NACE National Business Development Committee Chair for 2019 and 2020 and speaks nationally about events, event tech, and business strategy

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