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Article by: Brady Bonifas — View more articles by Brady Bonifas

Posted on: March 1, 2019

Hiring for Peak Periods

What does hiring for peak periods mean to you?

Every business is different and with each business are different hiring “peak period.” For retail it’s typically around the holidays and back-to-school, for accountants it’s the tax season (which is very real right now), and for outdoor-based companies, it’s the warmer months. It often falls on HR professionals to oversee the hiring and staffing for these very periods, so here are some best practices we’ve seen for staffing this very specific and limited organizational need.

elc wheelJust because an employee is temporary and/or simply seasonal, doesn’t mean you can neglect the employee life cycle. The best thing you can do when preparing for an influx of employees is to have a plan in place for each of the nine stages of the employee life cycle:
  1. Application
  2. Recruitment & Selection
  3. Onboarding
  4. Payroll
  5. Benefits & Compensation
  6. Performance & Management
  7. Training & Development
  8. Succession & Talent Planning
  9. Off-boarding

Don’t Procrastinate

No matter your industry, you should give yourself between three and six-months lead time. This ensures you have time to develop a profile of the skill sets you need and a head start to find the employees that fit. Come up with a plan on attracting applicants. Will your purely utilize online techniques and word-of-mouth? Or, will you participate in a job fair?

Once on board, you can train staff prior to peak times. It can be incredibly hard to adequately train new employees when dealing with customers during peak periods. Every role will require a different level and duration of training. Make sure to give your incoming employees the proper amount of time or your peak season “help” will quickly become a peak season burden.

Have the Roles Thought Out

Peak or seasonal employees should be trained to do accomplish a majority of things that will come their way, but don’t train peak employees the same way you would a full-time one. The training period for peak employee groups can be half to two-thirds as long because it's much less likely that peak employees will encounter a variety of “what if” customer scenarios. If you have the support system in place, training for the “basics” is should be sufficient.

Use Your Own Employees

Employee referrals can help with outreach to find the right mix of people. It’s also nice to bring employee acquaintances on as peak supplemental staff because they’ll be more likely to stay and do a good job with an affinity in place for a current employee.

Cross Your T's

Make sure you have the support system in place before taking on an influx of peak employees. It can be stressful on HR and payroll to process new employee paperwork, so make sure you have the proper systems documented and people in place to ensure it goes smoothly. Otherwise, the temporary help may not seem worth the assistance. Depending on the number of employees you do hire, you may be held to different compliance and legal considerations than during slower times. If you’re unsure of how to prepare, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have a team of expert employee life cycle consultants who know how to handle peak hiring times.


So much time and energy is typically spent on attracting and training season employees, but what happens when the season ends? Don’t forget to thoughtfully develop your off-boarding plan and communicate it to the company and temporary help. Not only do you want to give the temporary employees enough time to understand when their last day is, but also discuss with them the process for rehiring.


Whenever your peak period is, Willory can help either by finding temporary employees or developing an infrastructure for hiring.