Should You Hire Seasonal Staff This Year?

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Peak season is that time of year when your online shop is overwhelmed with orders – and for most eCommerce retailers, that time is rapidly approaching in the form of Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Now the question that arises is: how will you manage the extra load? Make use of your permanent employees by paying overtime, or hire seasonal workers instead to undertake the additional work? Both of these approaches have pros and cons, and knowing them will allow you make a more informed decision.

These are some things to consider when deciding to hire seasonal staff for peak season. 

Handling The Extra Hours

Seasonal workers are typically people who want the hours, and who want to work – they’re eager to prove themselves in the hope of acquiring a full-time position once peak season has passed. Whereas overtime can cause burnout among your permanent staff, especially if you aren’t clear / are unable to be clear with your staff about how long the mandatory overtime will last.

As a result, the extra cash becomes less of an incentive for them and more stress-inducing, the longer you maintain the overtime. This is of course something that varies on both ends – temp workers aren’t always hard-working, and employees may work weeks of overtime with no complaint – especially if your employees are on an incentive plan.

Gauge your permanent employees – how much overtime do you think they can handle? If the answer is less than you’ll be needing, you may need to start looking for some seasonal workers.


The cost of hiring temp workers is often cheaper than the cost of paying a permanent employee’s overtime. In the short term, it is generally more cost-efficient to hire a temp. With temporary employees, wage rates are typically lower and, since seasonal workers are often part time, health benefits and other perks are usually not a part of the employment package, saving the employer money in salaries and benefits.

Training Investment

With new hires there will be costs associated with training. Since seasonal employees likely won’t be well versed in the company and its operations, they’ll have to be brought up to speed. If the company is small and/or is limited in staff resources, this could be more costly than one or two permanent employees going into overtime to manage the added workflow during the peak season.

Lack Of Loyalty, Morale, And Theft Issues

Seasonal workers simply don’t have as much loyalty to the job as permanent employees. For instance, if suddenly a better opportunity comes around, they may quit on short notice, which could cause a disruption in production or services during rush hours.

This is much less likely to be an issue when it comes to permanent workers as they know showing disinterest or unwillingness to execute the added work will put their future in jeopardy. Similarly to lack of loyalty, a temp worker is more likely to steal from an employer – not necessarily in terms of stealing actual, physical product, but in terms of stealing time. Too-long lunch breaks, having someone else clock them in or out, and just in general not working to their full productive potential are ways that employees steal time. 

Morale and employee relations problems can arise when you have temps working alongside permanent employees, doing the same work and putting in the same hours, but not receiving the same benefits afforded their permanent employee coworkers.

Generate Innovative Ideas And Skills

Seasonal workers are now employed in virtually every industry. Today temporary workers increasingly include highly skilled individuals with a wide range of educational backgrounds and work experience. These individuals can tackle critical one-time projects that are limited in time and scope. Hiring temporary workers allows new minds to help brainstorm fresh ideas and generate problem-solving solutions, so there isn’t a lack of creativity during peak season. In case of overtime-paid permanent employees, the retailers will be deprived from such creativity and new ideas as their workers will follow the same work ethics that they carry out during their routine tasks.

Legal Concerns

Even though individuals are not permanently on staff, employers are still obligated to obey federal, state and local employment laws.

Recent court decisions have highlighted the fact that businesses must be careful on how they contract for temporary staff. There must be no discrimination when considering the workers’ status and lack of eligibility for the benefits of permanent employees. Treat temp workers with the same respect and care you would do for your permanent staff. So during peak season, if the retailers fail to comply with the rules then hiring seasonal workers may become more expensive compared to that of utilizing permanent staff.

There is no one best solution when it comes to choosing between seasonal workers and permanent employees during peak season. You’ll have to analyze your current employees, define your business’ objectives, and then select the method or combination of methods that suits your business best.


Emilie Fritsch

Emilie Fritsch is a strategic marketing maven with a knack for numbers. During her tenure as Marketing Director at SkuVault, she masterminded market strategies, delved deep into niche sub-markets, and forged and nurtured pivotal partnerships. When Emilie isn’t crafting marketing magic, she’s likely exploring the latest industry trends or championing the next big idea.