For many businesses, the majority of trade falls within a seasonal timeframe each year. For retailers, Christmas is obviously their rush period while for the tourism and catering industries, this falls in the summer months.

One of the unique challenges for seasonal businesses is recruitment and ensuring a skilled, committed workforce to optimise this busy time.

"Having the right staff in place when you need them is crucial to success for seasonal businesses," says Kim Fletcher, Business Link Adviser Kent. "It's about having the flexibility to respond to changing customer demands. There are a range of options that businesses can use to meet their needs and each business has to establish what works best for them."

The Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) recommends the following steps to building a flexible seasonal workforce:

Find the right balance
Seasonal businesses need to find the right balance between hiring permanent employees who work all year round and those only working in peak periods. Core staff can be one or two people running the business - dealing with administration, finances, marketing and so on - and ensuring all systems go when the rush begins.

Know your options
There is a range of employment options available for seasonal businesses including:

  • temporary workers recruited through an agency
  • employees on fixed-term contracts
  • part-time workers
  • outsourcing
  • family and friends

Depending on your specific needs and budget, choose the right type of worker for your business. Remember to keep in mind any legal requirements, which can range from ensuring that workers are eligible to work in the UK to specific requirements around hiring young workers.

Share with your team
Keep lines of communication open with all your staff. Draw up schedules well in advance so staff can plan their personal lives around them. This is particularly important for shift work where staff can work unsociable hours which impacts on their home lives.

Reward success
Offer incentives to your team such as overtime payments or productivity bonuses to encourage motivation. High morale brings loyalty as well as attracting quality employees, so it's just as important to reward success and hold team events among temporary workers as much as permanent staff.

More information on developing a seasonal workforce is available at