The festive season is upon us and with it comes its own set of challenges and opportunities. Employment in the hospitality sector is growing at a faster pace than the total economy and adding seasonal workers into the mix is only going to bolster that. This teamed with newer staffing methods, which include subcontracting, outsourcing and agencies, have played roles in the fragmentation of the relationship between regular and seasonal staff.

This problem isn’t unique to the hospitality industry, but in a fast-paced environment and at a busy time of year, it can be easy for seasonal staff to feel left out of the loop.

Here are some ways to get your seasonal staff up to speed for the busy season ahead:

Create a seasonal training programme

Often, seasonal workers are asked to sit through the same training as full-time members of staff. This can sometimes take days and gives people an overwhelming amount of information to work with. Each department could provide seasonal workers with a dedicated training plan to help speed them through the process without cutting corners. Time is of the essence here, and it’s likely seasonal workers will be working across one department at a time.

This provides an opportunity for general managers to delegate the creation of a plan to department heads and equally it’s something department heads can work on together. They are most attuned with the needs of their departments, and this extra responsibility is a good morale booster.

A buddy system

Pairing a seasonal worker up with a long-term member of staff is a great way to get people up to speed. This isn’t to say that the pair have to be joint at the hip, but if the seasonal employee has any questions or issues relating to their job, the long-term member of staff can either answer them or escalate them.

This works great for three reasons. Firstly, it gives the seasonal employee structure. Secondly, if you’re thinking of giving the long-term staff member more responsibility, it’s a low-risk way of seeing how they manage it. And lastly, at the end of the season, it’s possible to lean on the long-term member of staff to determine whether or not the seasonal worker would be a good fit for more ongoing work.

Incentivised learning

Let’s take a closer look at ongoing work, now. The aim of working with seasonal employees isn’t just to fill a gap at a certain part of the year. Many of the people you come across may be great additions to your full or part-time team. Give seasonal employees opportunities to learn. If they’re interested in bar training, a member of staff could talk them through the basics. If they’d like to become a spa therapist, they could be given the opportunity to shadow an existing therapist.

Watch who takes up these opportunities as they’re likely to be the ones who are in it for the long haul.

Include and reward

Seasonal employees aren’t just for Christmas. By treating them like they are, you’re in danger of creating a fractured departmental mentality. An us vs. them approach is very easy to fall into and difficult to break once in. By treating seasonal workers equally, you aren’t just building a stronger team but you’re cutting any departmental issues off at the source.

All workers, no matter where they fall in the hierarchical scheme, should feel equally important. Include, reward and incentivise people from the offset and you may end up with employees that you can rely on for life.

When time is of the essence, it’s easy to cut corners in order to provide a quick service. There are alternative ways to approach it, though. Using these tips will help you to hold onto seasonal employees and also become an attractive prospect for the future. After all, businesses will always need to hire seasonal workers – be the company that they want to work at.

Caroline Allen

Caroline Allen


Caroline is a writer and author with 10 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, specialising in marketing, social media and employee/employer communications. She has worked in-house at some of the biggest hotels in the world but now spreads her time across a range of different clients working – mostly – from home with her assistant, Milly the rescue Labrador.

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