10 Examples of Seasonal Employee Benefits

Seasonal workers don't typically get offered company health insurance, 401(k), or other benefits you'd normally extend to your full-time employees.

But when you post a seasonal job, applicants are still going to look at what you can offer them. That's how they'll evaluate your company as a good place to work.

What employers should know about hiring seasonal employees:

To properly classify an employee or cohort as 'seasonal,' ask yourself the following two questions:

  • Are they working for a period of six months or less?
  • Does the employment period begin around the same time every year?

If the answer to both questions is "Yes" to both, your employee is probably considered seasonal.

Common examples of seasonal jobs include:

  • summer internships
  • holiday shopping season retail workers
  • restaurant staff hired during the tourist or holiday season
  • accountants specifically brought on for tax season
  • ski resort and summer camp workers

Seasonal employment is cyclical, not one-time. Graduate interns hired for 12 months, computer programmers brought on for a special project, consultants to fill a short-term need, and temporary call center employees would not be considered seasonal.

Since regulations surrounding seasonal employment don't consider benefits as part of the "compensation" employees receive, most companies don't offer their seasonal workers the same benefits packages they provide to full-time staff. But this doesn't mean your seasonal employees can't be rewarded with some perks.

What are seasonal employee benefits?

Seasonal employee benefits are fringe benefits employers offer to their part-time, short-term workers. They're taxable benefits that aren't legally required by federal law and don't have to follow specific regulations.

Just like the nature of seasonal work, these types of benefits are characteristically smaller and more immediate than those offered to non-seasonal employees. They're designed to draw the most qualified new talent, ensure they perform well, and reward their hard work.

Our favorite benefits for seasonal employees

Newly hired employees you bring on to accommodate the busy season may not be with you for more than a few months. But they're still members of your team, and engaging them through benefits can help improve their performance and commitment.

Here's a list of our ten favorite seasonal fringe benefits:

1. Flexible schedules and working arrangements

Even during a holiday season or summer rush, your seasonal employees may have other commitments outside of work. Providing them with flexible hours or remote work options can help them manage their schedule and increase job satisfaction.

If you're working in a corporate office, the best way to offer flexibility is by allowing remote work (and a remote work stipend!).

For seasonal jobs in retail and hospitality businesses, you can still promote your employees' work-life balance in the following ways:

  • Allow shift swapping between coworkers
  • Offer employees the option to work split shifts to accommodate peak hours
  • Rotate weekend and holiday schedules so that everyone gets equal days off

Before hiring new employees, smart employers ask them each how many hours they can work and to specify what times. That way, they can set each employee's work hours without scheduling conflicts.

2. Health and wellness stipends

You might not be able to offer temporary employees the ability to enroll in your company's health coverage. What you can do is offer your employees a monthly stipend they can use for health and wellness expenses they incur during their employment.

Seasonal workers might spend their health and wellness stipend on:

  • Gym memberships
  • Classes, like yoga or tai chi, to reduce stress levels during the busy season
  • Nutrition counseling or meal planning services
  • Mental health therapy sessions
  • Wellness retreats or vacations
  • Meditation apps

Stipends are great because they're easy to administer and allow your employees to choose how they spend their money. They're the ultimate way to include everyone in your health and wellness program, regardless of their needs and interests.

3. Commuter benefits

One issue with seasonal fluctuations in staffing is that you might not have enough parking spots on your property. It's your interns who are walking the extra few blocks and paying a meter.

If you've ever worked in retail or hospitality, you know it's an even bigger problem for those workers. So employees clocking in midday frequently spend 20-30 minutes finding parking, only to use the $20 lot across the street.

If remote work isn't an option, the least you could do is help your temp workers with their commute.

Some of the best commuter benefits include:

  • parking expense reimbursement
  • public transit reimbursement
  • monthly rideshare stipends (for Uber/Lyft)
  • gas stipends
  • toll reimbursement

Offering these benefits prevents your employees from spending hours' worth of their pay just to show up to work.

4. Reimbursements

We aren't talking business expense reimbursements (though you should definitely handle those efficiently). These are reimbursements your employees can use to pay for predetermined costs, whether they're directly related to work or not.

Your seasonal employee reimbursement policy might include:

Like stipends, the type of reimbursements you offer will be closely tied to your company values. For instance, an employer in the veterinary space might offer its summer interns pet care reimbursement. A tech company might reimburse their gym memberships and cover tuition for summer courses they're taking in tandem with their internships.

5. Performance incentives

When a seasonal employee works hard and the value shows, it's important to recognize that. Some short-term employees have commission incentives (e.g., a sales intern or retail associate). But you should go beyond basic cash bonuses.

Creative performance incentives to consider:

  • peak season "survival" kits with coffee and energy bars
  • a summer BBQ for employees after a record-breaking month of sales
  • tickets to a local event (like a concert or sports game)
  • company swag, like T-shirts or water bottles

How are you going to reward your employees? It could vary by team, as long as the rewards are fair for each employee. Since they're seasonal, the best way to offer one-off awards for a job well done is through a spot award program.

6. Paid time off (PTO)

Depending on how many hours per week employees work, you might want to extend your PTO policy to them. Of course, it's hard to justify the added employment costs if the personnel you brought on for support is constantly taking work off.

But, there are a few instances where offering PTO makes sense:

  • The nature of your entire business is seasonal (e.g., ski resorts)
  • Your seasonal employee works 30+ hours per week
  • They'll be with your company for 3-6 months
  • Your seasonal program is also an initial measurement period, and your top performers will go full-time.

7. Employee discounts/access to company resources

The general expectation for retail, hospitality, and entertainment workers is that they'll get some sort of discount on store items or services (or free access). For corporate seasonal workers, you can largely base this around what you offer.

For example, Petco offers its employees access to veterinary care, training classes, and generous discounts on store items. Starbucks baristas get a pound of free coffee or tea per week plus employee discounts at Teavana and Evolution Fresh.

Note: One of the difficulties of offering discounts as a benefit is the lack of personalization. While some employees might take advantage of a veterinary care discount, some workers may not be pet owners. One way to combat this is by offering a stipend.

8. Training and development opportunities

One of the main reasons to take on a seasonal role is to gain experience. 55% of employees consider career growth opportunities more important than their take-home pay. And, according to SHRM data, about half of them want to use their current job to advance their career.

Make sure your seasonal employees are learning and growing. You can offer them:

  • online training courses (Lynda or Coursera)
  • on-the-job shadowing or mentoring
  • reimbursement for continuing education credits
  • additional career and mentorship opportunities within the company.

9. Create a culture of appreciation

The last piece of the puzzle is something that might not cost any money at all: a rewards and recognition program.

There are two types of recognition:

  • Peer-to-peer
  • Manager-to-peer

In either case, SHRM reports that 85% of companies surveyed have a recognition program in place.

Ways to recognize your seasonal workers:

  • Include them in company-wide shoutouts for hitting major milestones
  • Create a peer bonus program
  • Provide shoutouts in a company-wide newsletter (with permission, of course)
  • Write thank-you notes or give small tokens of appreciation for work well done
  • Give a monthly "Intern of the Month" award
  • Create a wall of fame or recognition board for employees who go above and beyond

However you decide to reward your employees, make sure you're taking time to personally thank them for their hard work and contributions. Rewards are one thing, but recognizing their achievements publicly (via Slack or during a meeting) and privately will go 10x further than a reward alone.

10. Company-sponsored events and outings

A company that plays together, stays together. And as a seasonal employee, it's easy to feel excluded. Why not use company-sponsored events or outings to build camaraderie and celebrate your team's hard work?

Event ideas:

  • End-of-season party
  • Employee giving opportunities
  • Company picnic or BBQ
  • Team building activities (escape rooms, bowling, mini-golf)
  • Themed happy hours (karaoke night or trivia at a local bar)

Bringing your seasonal employees together in a fun, relaxed environment can help them feel more connected to the company and their team. It also gives them a chance to unwind and have some fun after working hard during peak season.

Attracting seasonal talent doesn't have to be difficult! You can use Compt to set up benefits packages for every seasonal and full-time employee, offer stipends and bonuses, and manage expenses and reimbursements with 100% tax compliance. We'll show you how it works.

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