Seasonal Employees: Tips for Training, Management and Retention

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In the northern climes, most outdoor pools are already under cover and winterized. Pool store traffic has reduced to a trickle. Even in the warmer states, business tends to slow down as the calendar pushes toward the end of the year. And that means that a significant number of pool and spa employees are standing down until they’re needed again in the spring.

Finding strong workers to take temporary jobs can be difficult. And even when you have recruited good people, keeping them motivated is its own challenge.

Luckily, the pool and hot tub industry isn’t alone in this dilemma. Especially as the hospitality fields have grown and retail fields see greater swings in revenue tied to holiday seasons, there are a multitude of businesses that wrestle with the problem. With so many sharp business minds focused on the issue, keen insights and intriguing solutions can be found everywhere. Pool and hot tub businesses may look to other industries for lessons on this subject.


When an employee’s time is limited, the temptation is to race through all the training they need in order to put them to work more quickly. That’s a mistake, according to Matt Heller, author of “The Myth of Employee Burnout: What It Is. Why It Happens. What To Do About It.”

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As Heller told Forbes, “One of the things that stunts the growth in many seasonal workers is the practice of frontloading all of their training. There are a number of pitfalls with this technique. First, it gives employees very little to look forward to. Second, rarely do employees truly learn and absorb all of the material covered in a few days or hours of orientation. A better system is to provide training in small nuggets. This way the material sticks better, and they have a chance to actually put it into practice.”

Add on the often highly technical nature of the training in the pool and spa industry, and packing in dense instruction all at once is courting disaster. Instead, find ways to continually engage the seasonal hires in learning throughout their time. As a bonus, they’ll likely recognize the investment being made in them and work to live up to it.


Incorporating into a business’s work culture is a tough task for any new hire. It is even more precarious for short-timers who may feel excluded from ongoing relationships within the organization. In addition, the simple fact that they will be leaving their position inherently means there’s less time for productive camaraderie to develop organically.

Don’t count on connections to simply happen. Develop and implement strategies that will help the seasonal workers form bonds. Something as simple as setting up a sort of “buddy system” that will connect them with a more skilled, seasoned member of the team can go a long way towards making the newcomer feel comfortable and


“Employees want to be part of something bigger — they want to see value in their work,” Nate DePore, a founder of the service industry HR consultancy PeopleMatter, recently told QSR magazine. “Giving them a sense of purpose will make them more engaged, perform better and lead to better sales for your business.”

RELATED: 5 Hard Truths of Hiring for Pool & Spa Businesses

This truism can be applied across the board, but it’s especially imperative for seasonal employees who can too easily persuade themselves that they’re not part of a bigger picture in the organization. Acquaint them with the company’s mission and let them know how much their contributions matter. It will boost their motivation, even if their end date is already set.


Although a seasonal employee is well aware their position comes with a built-in expiration date, many of them might be hoping for more — or can be encouraged to do so. And a business owner naturally wants to keep the best workers around if they can.

Showing the seasonal workers the pathway that can turn their limited engagement into permanent employment provides the perfect motivation to do the job well. Give them a sense of a prosperous future with the business and they’ll start building their own path that leads to it.

Some in the pool and hot tub industry see seasonal workers as a necessary compromise to keep the business running. Instead, those employees can be contributors that are as valuable as anyone else on the payroll. A slightly modified management approach is needed, but the effort will pay off many times over.

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