Events don’t just happen. They can be complicated and take a substantial amount of planning and execution. As an event planner, you have at least some control over the planning of your event. But even if you plan an outstanding event, using unqualified or unprepared staff at your event can lead to disaster. You may be tempted to just turn over the task of hiring staff to an outside temp firm. That is a valid tactic for busy event planners. But before you do that, make sure you have and can communicate a clear strategy for what you need. Just as you would not leave building your event agenda to chance, don’t leave your HR strategy to chance either. Here are 6 tips for building a smart hiring strategy for event staff.
First Create a Strategy
As soon as you feel like you have a good handle on the event agenda, bring your team together to discuss how many people will be needed to create a flawless event. Who are these people and what will they need to do? Make a complete list of roles and responsibilities. Think strategically about any specialized roles that will need a certain type of person. This could be entertainers, bartenders, audio-visual experts or sign language interpreters. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and create a plan that makes their experience positive. Be generous in your planning for coverage at this point. If you think you should have ten people at the check-in table to avoid bottlenecks, put that in your plan. You can always pare down later if you need to.
Know Your Budget and Be Creative If You Need to Be
Salaries can eat up a tremendous amount of your budget. Make sure you know just how much you have to spend. Keeping your financial goals in mind, establish a breakeven point and don’t go over it. Include benefits and perks for employees and fees from hiring partners in your budget assessment. If you need to tighten your belt, think creatively about how you could leverage other groups to perform some of the roles you need. One option is to engage a local university to ask for volunteer help from students in exchange for course credit. Or offer free event tickets to a local Young Professionals group in exchange for some help at set-up or check-in.
Understand Any Regulations
Most likely you are hiring temporary employees who are typically not eligible for medical insurance and other required benefits. That doesn’t mean you could offer benefits or perks, you just don’t have to. If you hire temporary workers through a staffing agency, the agency will pay benefits. You could also hire employees as independent contractors. If you hire these types of employees, you do not pay employment taxes or withhold taxes from the independent contractor. There are also most likely union regulations you will need to follow. Consult your lawyer and hiring partners before deciding on the best hiring strategy for your event.
Write Complete Job Descriptions and Requirements
For every role, you need to hire, create a comprehensive job description that accurately describes your expectations for this staff member, as well as any experience you require. This job description should also include:
- wage information
- any benefits provided (meals, transportation, uniforms)
- the dates you will need the staff member
a tentative work schedule.
The more detail you provide at the beginning, the easier the hiring process will be. Expectations are clear.
Here’s an example.
XYZ Conference Event Check-In/Customer Service Staff Member
We are looking for ten highly organized candidates with excellent interpersonal skills for the position of Event Check-In/Customer Service. These staff members are responsible for working under the supervisor of an Event Coordinator welcoming and checking in attendees, answering questions and providing directions, offering customer service to guests, among other duties.
Staff needs to constantly be on their feet and moving, requiring physical stamina and high energy levels. One year of customer service experience and familiarity with internet-based CRM and ticket sales sites such as Eventzilla are required.
These staff members will earn $15 per hour and be required to work from October 1 through October 5. Lunch and parking will be provided to each staff member. The tentative schedule will be provided on July 31.
Event Staff Responsibilities:
- Working under the instructions of an Event Coordinator
- Using a PC, copy machines, and printers as well as a web-based database and Microsoft Suite software
- Ensuring the check-in area is clean and organized
- Ensuring excellent levels of customer service, providing correct and helpful information to guests
- Assuming the role of checking in and welcoming guests
- Staying informed as to event schedule and venue changes in order to communicate clearly to attendees
Event Staff Requirements:
- 1 year of customer service experience
- Familiarity with web-based CRM and ticket sales sites and Microsoft Suite software
- Outstanding organizational skills
- Diligence and attention to detail
- Exceptional interpersonal skills
- Excellent verbal communication
- Physical stamina and high energy levels
- Good problem-solving skills
- Ability to perform under stress
- Excellent multitasking ability
- Conflict management skill
Decide on a Hiring Firm Early
You may think that you and your team can handle the hiring of your staff on your own. If so, that’s great! Just be aware of how much work it is. You should start the hiring process at least four months before your event. You will need to time to find viable applicants, interview them, do the necessary background checks and drug tests, and then make offers and set schedules. With everything else, you are doing in order to plan your event that is a lot. A temporary firm does this type of hiring every day and already has a stable of folks vetted, ready, and willing to work. If you can afford it, it might be a less stressful way to go.
In order to ensure good teamwork and an easy start to your event, it is a best practice to gather all staff members together before the event for a kick-off meeting. It’s an opportunity for each team member to get to know each other and for you to get to know them. Use this time to tell your event story and turn these staff members into brand evangelists. Encourage and empower them to make decisions that are beneficial for your guests during the event. Create a sense of team so that they feel they can lean on each other and you during the stress of the event. This meeting can be crucial to your success. With the best team by your side, your event will be set up to succeed. Your staff is a reflection of you and your event brand. Make sure you choose them well.