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All set for summer?

Finding and managing short-term staff

With the nights getting lighter and the summer drawing nearer, many managers will begin to think about taking on extra staff or arranging cover for employees who are away on their summer hols. Vicki Taylor looks at how to find the right temporary recruits and ensure they fit in with the rest of the team.

Not all businesses experience a surge in demand during the summer months, but many do, especially those operating in the entertainment, tourism and hospitality sectors. For such businesses, being prepared is the key to getting through what can be a challenging period.

Planning for the summer should probably begin around Easter. Taking a look at your sales figures from previous years will help you decide if or when extra cover needs to be brought in and how many people are required. You might also want to build in some time for training temporary staff before things starts to get really busy.

Quote�Planning for the summer should probably begin around Easter.�End Quote

Many of your employees will, no doubt, want to take their annual two weeks in the sun. You should aim to find out when employees are planning to take leave as early as possible and try to plan things so that you do not have too many employees away at the same time. You also need to decide when or if you will take time off, and how this will impact on your business.

Once you have decided how many extra staff will be needed, consider who might be suitable and where you might find them. Depending on the level of skill required, students are usually a good source of holiday cover, so you could consider contacting the careers service at your local university, college or sixth form.

Depending on the positions vacant, local papers, word-of-mouth and your local job centre may also be good starting points. For jobs requiring previous knowledge and experience, research the trade publications you could advertise in.


Sometimes it might also be worth considering using a recruitment agency. According to Michaella Rogers, group business manager at the recruitment agency Manpower, there are two main benefits of using an agency.

Quote�Some agencies employ the staff themselves, which means the business is protected from any legislative requirements.�End Quote
Michaella Rogers, Manpower

'A good agency will have a ready pool of candidates which means - depending on the vacancy - that they could fill the position from anywhere between a few hours to within a couple of days,' says Michaella. 'Also, some agencies, like Manpower, employ the staff themselves, which means the business is protected from any legislative requirements.'

In terms of costs, you are likely to pay the agency an additional 15 to 20 per cent on top of what you would expect to pay the member of staff. However, as Michaella points out, you will probably break even when the cost of advertising, checking references and interviewing are taken into account.

Once you have found the right staff, through an agency or otherwise, it is important to get the induction process right. Although most of the temporary employees won't be with you for very long, it is in your interests to make them feel welcome and part of the team. They are more likely to be motivated and want to do a good job if they feel valued. Also, if they are looked after, some temporary employees are more likely to return the following year or at other times when you need staff. You might even want to keep one or two on as permanent employees.

Depending on the job, Michaella believes it can sometimes pay to allow the temporary member of staff to shadow the person they will be covering for a few days, to give them the chance to get used to the 'ins and outs' of the job.

No matter how temporary or straightforward the role, it is also advisable to have at least an informal interview with any potential candidates. Even if they are only going to be with your business for a short period it is still essential to check they will mix well with the rest of the team and have the right attitude.

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