Dec 11, 2013 0 Share

'Tis the Season


Close-up of Christmas tree with shoppers in background.
Thinkstock

It is that time of year again, when families get together for holidays and people start Christmas shopping. It is also that time of year when a lot of stores start hiring people for seasonal work. For someone working as a Supported Employment Manager, this time of year can be both a good thing and a bad thing, just as it can for the individuals on my caseload. For many people looking for employment this time of year, it is easy to understand that seasonal work is temporary. For me, it is hard to explain to someone on my caseload that they are only working at a job for a few months and then not working again after the season is over. 

Some of the other managers that work with me have individuals that do summer work at farms and golf courses, but these individuals have been doing this work for years now. They have somewhat of an understanding that their job is seasonal and after it is finished we have to find something else for them to do. For someone whose first employment is during the holidays, it is a little harder to explain to them the nature of seasonal work. One of the individuals on my caseload used to work at a well-known warehouse store, but because of budget and economy problems he had to be let go. The job developer had given this individual the opportunity to return to this store as a seasonal worker because the store loved having him there. However, this causes some complications. Although his current job is a full-time, year-round position, the individual wants to go back to the warehouse store. Fortunately, the year-round job is a contract job, so taking some time off to do seasonal work won’t jeopardize that placement. 

The major dilemma is that if this seasonal position keeps coming up, it may become a problem to keep pulling the individual out of the steady job to go back to this store. But who am I to tell an individual that he cannot go to job he wants to do because it is only seasonal work? That is like someone telling me I cannot go play football in the NFL because it is only a few months out of the year, even though it has always been a dream of mine. Needless to say, the individual is currently working at that warehouse store and loving every minute of it. 

But what if someone does not have another job to go back to? What if you have to explain to an individual that they are not going to work after January? Rarely do stores to hire seasonal employees as full-time workers. Sometimes it happens, but not often. 

I guess we just have to try to explain in a way the individual can understand that they did not do anything wrong to lose the job and that it was a temporary placement from the start. It is my job after that to find them something else to fill that time, whether it be another part-time job or job training. And it does feel good to see the individual get a paycheck, even it is only for three months out of the year.