6 tips to onboard seasonal employees for your small business

As a small business owner, you might understand the unique challenges that come with onboarding seasonal employees. It’s no easy task: quickly training temporary hires, ensuring they have the skills to work effectively with permanent employees, and supporting them to understand their roles so they can start making a difference.

That’s why we’re here to help. In this article, we give you six straightforward strategies to simplify the task of onboarding seasonal employees. 

We also show you how Homebase can help you master the hiring and onboarding process. We’ve been there, in the trenches, understanding the hurdles small business owners like you confront during high-demand periods. 

So let’s take a close look at how to conquer seasonal employee onboarding, one step at a time.

Why prioritize effective onboarding for seasonal employees

Small businesses often face unique challenges that larger corporations don’t have to deal with, especially when it comes to getting seasonal employees up to speed. These hires, who come in during peak times, have the power to influence your business’s success. Here’s why an effective onboarding process for your seasonal hires is crucial:

  • Time efficiency: Every minute counts. So why not start onboarding even before they walk through the door? The faster you can get paperwork out of the way and kick off training, the quicker new hires can start making a difference. That’s why an efficient onboarding process that begins even before their first day is key. How about sending them essential materials like training documents, company policies, and paperwork beforehand? This way, they’ll arrive for their first day prepared, saving precious time and making the transition smoother. For example, at Homebase this is a paperless, digital process with the option of e-signing.
  • Employee engagement: We all know how important it is to feel connected to a workplace — it’s what drives motivation and boosts morale! For seasonal employees, a streamlined onboarding process can make all the difference. It gives them a sense of belonging and creates a clear idea about their roles. Remember, an engaged employee is a productive one. To be more efficient and ensure engagement, you can use Homebase’s easy employee team chat app to help your team stay connected.
  • Business success: Your business doesn’t stop for the holiday season or during peak times, and neither should your service. This is where your seasonal employees come in. They are your key players during these important times. A clear and easy onboarding process will uphold your high standards of service, maintain your reputation, and keep your customers happy.
  • Less time spent on training:  By creating a simple onboarding process, you can drastically cut down on the time spent training each new hire. This can be especially beneficial during peak periods when time is of the essence. Remember, you can use every moment saved in training to better serve your customers. 
  • Keeps employees happy: Even though seasonal employees are temporary, a positive onboarding experience can encourage them to return for future seasons or even transition to a permanent role. Not to mention, it spreads a positive reputation for your business.

An effective onboarding process is not just about bringing a new hire onboard, it’s all about boosting your business efficiency, giving a great service, and creating a positive work culture. 

How is onboarding seasonal employees different from permanent employees?

Onboarding permanent employees and seasonal staff are two different ball games. Here’s why:

  • Permanent employees, once recruited, have the advantage of time to adapt and grow into their roles. They learn how things work gradually, understanding the ins and outs of their job at a comfortable pace.
  • Seasonal employees don’t have this free time. They’re recruited when you need extra hands on deck, and this usually means the busiest times of the year. There’s little time for gradual learning — they need to hit the ground running. That’s why onboarding seasonal employees demands a different strategy. It needs to be concise and comprehensive, giving people the tools they need to perform effectively from day one. And all this has to be achieved within a shorter timeframe than their permanent colleagues. 

Let’s look now at our six tips for onboarding seasonal employees and how Homebase can help you create a swift, thorough, and custom-tailored process.

6 essential tips for onboarding seasonal employees

Seasonal employees play a huge role in the ever-changing landscape of small businesses. Here are our recommended strategies for getting these key team members up and running.

1. Start onboarding before a new hire’s first day

The clock starts ticking the moment you hire a seasonal employee so it’s important to make the most of their limited time by helping them adapt to the business. If you don’t start their onboarding and paperwork until their first day on the job, you may find yourself losing valuable work time. That’s why it’s a good idea to get them to complete any training courses or to send over their certification in advance. This is where a tool like Homebase’s hiring and onboarding feature comes in handy.

Homebase’s hiring and onboarding tools make this process smooth! You can ask seasonal hires to enter and electronically sign direct deposit, W-4, W-9, and I-9 forms using the e-signature tool. This time-saving method helps to ensure a smoother transition for your seasonal staff and helps you to stay compliant. Once signed, these documents are organized and securely stored on the Homebase platform.

An image of Homebase’s onboarding software welcoming an employee on their first day.
With Homebase, you can send a welcome packet to new employees so they are ready for their first day. Source: Homebase

2. Put together a comprehensive welcome packet

A well-organized welcome packet that you send on the first day provides a reliable touchpoint for both permanent and seasonal employees. It serves as a handy guide they can refer back to whenever they have questions about company policies, work ethics, or any other details specific to your business.

With Homebase, you can compile a welcome packet that includes your own documents, such as information about your business, policies, or training materials. You can also create a custom employee handbook containing key information about your mission statement, values, and your workplace procedures. Your handbook should also detail employee rights information, which you are legally required to provide to your workers. 

By making sure employees receive the handbook, you establish a strong foundation, which shows that you have set clear guidelines and expectations from the start. Remember, having a handbook isn’t just about compliance — it’s about protecting your business and creating a fair and inclusive work environment. With Homebase HR pro, our certified HR experts will build you a customized handbook in less than 5 business days tailored to your needs.

An image of highlighted boxes containing text about employee handbooks and the Ask an HR Pro feature
Homebase’s customized employee handbook will help you take your business to the next level. Source: Homebase

3. Go as paperless as possible

Forget about spreadsheets and paper-filled filing cabinets.  A paperless onboarding process can save time and stop seasonal employees from getting overwhelmed with physical paperwork.  It also helps you ensure that new hires don’t lose track of important information. 

For managers, online scheduling and time tracking tools are a great way to handle large numbers of seasonal employees without the hassle of paper schedules or manual timesheets. Everything becomes digital and automated, saving time and reducing errors.

Homebase offers a user-friendly solution to manage your team’s information in one convenient platform. From emergency contacts to payroll details, we allow easy access and tracking of essential information such as employee certifications — you even receive a notification when they’re about to expire. 

4. Mix up your training methods

Since seasonal employees typically have a shorter tenure, their training phase needs to be short but effective. It’s less about lengthy handbooks or classroom-style lectures, and more about real, hands-on experiences. 

Here’s where more dynamic methods like on-the-job training or assigning a mentor can be incredibly useful. This not only offers new hires the chance to learn directly from a seasoned member of your team but also lets them experience your business culture and practices first-hand, helping new team members to adapt quicker. 

You can also optimize your employee training plans to improve the onboarding process. For example, you can give new employees a portion of training content each week, and then set a weekly quiz based on what they learned. Once you have the scores, you can assess how much each team member has retained so far and go from there.

Alternatively, you can hold group or one-on-one role-play sessions with relevant scenarios, for example, when a customer wants to return a product or there is a long wait time for restaurant patrons. By giving your staff a variety of learning materials to choose from, you can encourage them to choose the training path that best suits their learning styles.

An image of the different features of optimizing your employee training plans, like scheduling for the week, time tracking, and chat.
Homebase helps you organize your new employees’ training on one platform. Source: Homebase

5. Create opportunities for team bonding

Without a doubt, bringing seasonal employees into your existing team at certain times of the year can pose a challenge. After all, they’re new faces joining a well-acquainted team. 

That’s why you need to create opportunities for everyone to get to know each other. Here’s where Homebase’s team messaging feature comes into play. We provide a simple, user-friendly platform for everyone to communicate, share updates, or even engage in a little light-hearted banter. The better your team knows each other, the smoother the cooperation.

3 people chatting on Homebase’s chat app to discuss tomorrow’s meeting.
Homebase’s messaging system integrates with cloud-based timesheets, time clocks, payroll, hiring, and scheduling to support your small business every step of the way. Source: Homebase

6. Make future opportunities clear

Seasonal employees may be with you for a shorter time span, but their potential contribution doesn’t need to be limited to one season. If you make the future opportunities clear, you might find these seasonal employees coming back for subsequent seasons, too. 

Whether it’s for the same position or different roles in different seasons, clarity about future possibilities can turn a temporary hire into a returning asset for your business. This could create a pool of trained, familiar faces to tap into each season, further streamlining your onboarding process.

Master seasonal staff onboarding with Homebase

The task of onboarding seasonal employees can often seem daunting, especially if your small business is struggling with limited resources and time. However, an effective onboarding process is not a nice-to-have option. It’s a crucial part of your business strategy, designed to create better processes for your temporary but essential team members.

Setting up a comprehensive onboarding process with the help of Homebase can solve many of the challenges that come up with seasonal hires. Our hiring and onboarding features can help facilitate the initial paperwork and organize schedules. Additionally, we offer tools for team communication that will create a sense of community within your workforce. You can even track your new seasonal employees’ hours and manage labor costs by using Homebase’s free time clock.

A well-planned onboarding experience not only helps seasonal employees understand their roles and responsibilities better,  but also improves employee motivation and success for your business. This translates into greater productivity, a stronger work culture, and a willingness to return in future seasons.

Remember: This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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