With spring in full effect, a large cohort of students will be completing or taking a hiatus from their studies, and the majority of them will be seeking some form of employment. The spike in job searches for the summer months coincides with peak period of activity for many small business owners, creating a generally favourable environment for temporary hiring. Students will hope to gain not only supplemental income, but also experience and skills training that will line up with their broader career goals or give them the impetus to strike out with entrepreneurial ventures of their own. Business owners, too, should strive to hire temporary employees whose contributions both to workplace productivity and organizational culture will make a meaningful difference. The arrangement should strive to be win-win, and neither party should feel like they’re getting shorted at the end of the contract.
It’s important to think long term when you’re training your seasonal staff: any one of them could be a returning seasonal employee or could eventually become full-time if they offer an ideal cultural fit with your business. Many provincial-level funding options and grants are available for businesses looking to invest in developing their relationships with new seasonal hires.
Some businesses will offer internships over the summer months: the decision to make these paid or unpaid is highly personal and reflective of individual business goals, but keep in mind the legal limitations that govern the work that you can assign to interns as opposed to seasonal employees. Namely:
- Unpaid interns cannot do any work that contributes to a company’s operations. This includes any tasks that help you run your business, like documenting inventory, filing papers, or answering emails.
- Unpaid interns can shadow other employees and perform duties that don’t have a business need. For example, a bakery may allow an apprentice/intern to decorate a tray of cookies that will not be sold to customers. Because the task was only a training exercise for the apprentice/intern and the bakery did not receive any benefit from that work, the bakery would not have to pay that student worker for that time.
Once you’ve planned for a seasonal hire, think about how best to reach the kind of person you want to be a part of your small business team. Think about the problem of sheer volume when it comes to human resources: the flood of generic-looking posts on Craigslist, Indeed and other job sites. Prospective hires will be hard pressed to pick you out in this field, and you may have to end up sifting through a pile of unsuitable applicants. It benefits you to tailor your seasonal hiring message to the kind of employee you are seeking. If your small business has a decent social media presence, it could be as easy as posting internship positions on Twitter and Facebook. You can also contact local high schools, colleges and universities where career counselors can match students’ strengths, abilities and majors with your company needs.
Hiring students to match the increased demand on your peak summer season can be a great way to foster relationships and invest in your business’ growth. Finding the right funding option is critical to making this investment a success.