A close-up shot of a smiling man in a striped apron, seen through the glass of a shop's window or door. The man's arms are raised as he attached a sign to the inside of the glass; the sign is white with the word "HIRING" in green.
Expanding your hiring pool is a good way to fill employment gaps. Consider bringing on parents who can work part-time while their kids are at school. — Getty Images/Rowan Jordan

As college-aged employees head back to school, businesses face the challenge of filling gaps in their teams, especially for seasonal positions and internships. Here are some effective strategies for businesses to address staffing needs during this transition period.

Calculate your staffing needs

To figure out how many people you need on your team, assess what your business needs to get done both short- and long-term. Look at the work you have right now and see where you need extra help. Then, think about times when you usually get busier, like holidays or certain seasons, and factor them into your calculation.

You can also look at past data and evaluate your business flow to spot trends and patterns. Identify what’s worked well for you in the past and where you can improve. Being proactive and thinking ahead will better prepare you to deal with staffing changes as the year progresses.

Talk with your college-aged employees

Initiate the conversation with your college-aged employees to figure out their availability. If they are going to school locally, take class schedules into account to determine whether they are available to work during the academic year. You can also find out about their availability during school breaks and their potential to work on weekends or after school. Don’t forget to be empathetic with these discussions, and try to see them from the point of view of a student with a lot on their plate.

Having open discussions can help align an employee’s availability with your staffing needs and ensure effective resource allocation. This also helps you stay connected and build a good relationship with your staff, regardless of whether they are seasonal or year-round employees.

[Read more: 7 Tips for Managing Part-Time Employee Schedules]

Engage your current workforce

Another way to avoid exacerbating staffing challenges is to prioritize employee retention and engagement. You can foster a positive work environment by providing growth opportunities and recognizing employee contributions. This approach not only boosts morale but also encourages loyalty, which can reduce turnover and the need for frequent hiring.

Initiate the conversation with your college-aged employees to figure out their availability.

To tackle staffing and skills gaps, start by looking within your existing workforce and prioritize cross-training. Investing in cross-training leverages the talent of your current team and enhances their versatility. You can start by identifying areas where additional support is needed and explore opportunities for employees to learn new skills.

Cross-training is helpful not only in the case of seasonal workers; it can also assist on those days when someone calls in sick and needs a replacement on short notice. If your staff is cross-trained, finding somebody to cover a specific role won’t be an overly stressful challenge.

Broaden your hiring pool

Consider using a staffing agency to fill temporary positions. Collaborating with a staffing agency can provide access to a pool of qualified candidates seeking temporary work, allowing you to quickly address immediate hiring needs.

Additionally, consider reaching out to different groups such as parents, veterans, and those in the process of changing careers. Embracing diversity in your hiring practices not only expands your talent pool but also fosters a more inclusive and innovative work environment. Parents often bring exceptional multitasking and time management skills, while veterans possess valuable leadership and teamwork abilities. Career changers may offer fresh insights and a diverse range of expertise.

[Read more: 10 Unique and Creative Ways Businesses Are Recruiting Right Now]

Offer flexibility

Flexibility is a significant advantage in business. Instead of hiring one employee to cover the absence of a seasonal worker, consider the option of employing two part-time employees. This approach allows for increased coverage and provides added flexibility to accommodate varying workload demands.

Embracing part-time roles, remote work options, and flexible scheduling can attract a broader range of candidates and tap into their unique availability and skill sets. This allows you to accommodate the needs of both your business and your employees, enhancing job satisfaction and productivity. Flexibility not only helps fill gaps but also promotes a healthy work-life balance, fostering a positive work environment that can attract and retain top talent.

[Read more: 6 Tools for Managing Employee Schedules]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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