Why HR technology is key for attracting and retaining seasonal workers

The U.S. labor market remains tight, with the accommodation and food services segments experiencing one of the highest quit rates across industries, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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As summer arrives—with all the fun, hospitality and travel that comes with it—businesses in these sectors are seeking seasonal and hourly workers. However, they must offer unique incentives to attract and retain top talent, and experts say one of the best ways to compete is to take advantage of HR technology.

According to Tiffany McGowen, vice president of talent acquisition at HR and software company Paycom, onboarding and payroll technology is crucial for companies to attract and retain valuable seasonal workers. With a workforce of over 7,000 employees—which she and her team organically grew from a population of around 40—McGowen has deep experience with domestic and international recruiting strategies that satisfy a range of employee types.

Attracting seasonal workers

Money remains an important factor in attracting a seasonal workforce, says McGowen. Competitive wages are necessary to attract the limited talent pool available during this short period, which includes workers seeking summer jobs to earn additional income or fit a schedule structured around school or other obligations. For many employees, this could be one of their first jobs, while others might be taking on a new role as a second job. But a nice paycheck isn’t always enough.

Tiffany McGowen, vice president of talent acquisition at HR and software company Paycom; Attracting and retaining seasonal workers: The role of HR tech
Tiffany McGowen, vice president of talent acquisition at Paycom

Candidates build an image of the organization before they’ve even applied. McGowen emphasizes the importance of creating attractive job postings to set clear expectations that protect the time of both recruiters and applicants. HR tech solutions with automated tools analyze job duties and generate accurate descriptions. Generative artificial intelligence, found in many HR tech solutions in 2024, can provide writing help to make descriptions engaging and inclusive.

Onboarding summer staff

Once new hires are ready to start, employees and managers want to hit the ground running without wasting time on administrative tasks. Tech-enabled communications prevent new employee confusion on day one. Today’s HR tech market includes communication apps and tools that help employers convey details like where to park, what to expect with security and where to get lunch—all before employees arrive on site. “Those things matter,” says McGowen.

According to McGowen, this meaningful and efficient onboarding makes new hires feel they made the right choice by joining the organization. Implementing user-friendly technology can also streamline the onboarding process and provide digital training opportunities, ensuring new hires feel prepared and valued. New hires typically face dozens of orientation tasks, often leading to stress rather than confidence.

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Tasks like paperwork and form-filling can be done ahead of time, saving time for HR and new hires. Technical solutions in the HR tech market enable customized workflows, checklists and training modules tailored to specific roles and teams. Other products offer virtual training sessions, interactive tutorials, videos and gamification—all of which can be utilized by employees who haven’t yet or may never set foot in business offices where HR is housed. “Everybody is important,” says McGowen, reminding human resource leaders that not everyone learns the same or has access to the same technology.

According to Gallup, only one in 10 employees strongly agree that their organization delivers an excellent onboarding experience. Consequently, new hires may not fully embrace the organization’s unique mission or employee value proposition. While seasonal staff may only be employed briefly, many interact directly with customers.

These interactions frequently occur during customers’ summer trips or excursions, which are highly meaningful moments. Negative customer experiences can have a lasting impact on the brand. According to experience management firm Reputation, more than half of customers will voice complaints if they encounter an unsatisfactory experience with a company or brand.

Be transparent about payday

Today’s range of HR technology offers full visibility into earnings. Many platforms allow employees to approve their earnings, check for errors and enjoy transparency about how much they will get paid ahead of time. This brand of tech helps payroll teams avoid “correcting punches” and puts the ownership on the employee to validate their time, says McGowen.

Payroll errors plant seeds of doubt in the minds of the seasonal workers and cause a loss of trust in the employer. This can create exponential damage, says McGowen, because this population is a pipeline that can potentially transition from short-term to long-term employment.

While technology plays a vital role, McGowen emphasizes the importance of balancing it with a personal approach. She notes that people still appreciate a phone call but also like texting and other digital communication modes.

Want more expert insight? Pete Tiliakos, principal analyst and managing partner at 3Sixty Insights, will present “Don’t Forget the Fundamentals: Emerging Trends in Core HR and Payroll” at the upcoming HR Tech Online. Register now for free.

Jill Barthhttps://hrexecutive.com/
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].