How Events and Other Industries Hit Hard by the Pandemic Are Staffing Back Up

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As the economy begins opening back up in earnest, many companies are struggling to fill their open roles. The industries hit hardest by the pandemic, like hospitality and entertainment, are among those struggling most to find the right candidates.

Event staff are proving particularly hard to find. These people are the face of your event, the first and the last people your attendees interact with. They are the manpower behind the scenes delivering a great experience to your attendees and ensuring your event is successful. Thus, it is important to recruit a committed team of event staff who have the skills required to deliver the best event experience possible.

Whether you’re planning to host festivals, conferences, sporting events, or some other event, we have a few tips to help you recruit the right team. While these tips are designed with entertainment and hospitality companies in mind, they’re also broadly applicable to other industries trying to come back after the pandemic.

In a nutshell, we recommend you:

  1. Build a staffing plan.
  2. Enact employee referral programs.
  3. Ensure effective communication with candidates.
  4. Prioritize your own impression.
  5. Improve your onboarding process.

1.Build a Staffing Plan for Your Event

Before you can begin the recruitment process, you need to create a staffing plan based on your event requirements. This starts with determining what kind of roles your event staff will need to fill. Here are few common examples:

Entry Gate Team: These staff members will scan tickets or wristbands at the front entry and hand out event maps. They may also act as security to manage lines and control the crowd as they enter the event.

Food and Beverage Team: These are the people selling or serving food and drinks at your event. These people typically require some training or certification to serve alcohol.

Information Team: These employees are critical for offering general information and assistance to attendees throughout the event.

Once you have a clear understanding of the types of roles you will need to fill, determine how many people you will need in each role to staff your event properly. While there’s no hard and fast rule, this is typically done by estimating the number of people you expect to attend the event and determining the number of staff members required to manage them.

2. Enact Employee Referral Programs

If you’ve run events in the past, you likely have a pool of existing event staff to recruit from. These existing contacts can even help you bring in new recruits through an employee referral program. This powerful recruitment strategy offers you a simple way to bring in candidates who are prevetted by your existing team, saving you tons of time and effort.

Simply asking your current and previous event staff members to share your job opportunities with their networks. To sweeten the deal, consider offering rewards like bonuses for each referral or a prize for the staff member who brings in the most recruits. This can really help take the load off your team and reduce the cost of recruiting new staff for your event.

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3. Ensure Effective Communication With Candidates

It is very important to communicate with your candidates during the recruitment process. Create a detailed role description for each of your event staff opportunities that clearly outlines the following:

General Description: Provide a simple description of what the tasks of the job will look like.

Skills: List all the skills required to do the job or task at hand.

Qualifications or Certifications: Make note of any specific qualifications or certifications a candidate will need to do this job.

Physical Requirements: List any physical requirements to work the job, such as the ability to lift a certain number of pounds.

Share this information on your website and through your social media channels. That way, candidates will know exactly what is expected of them and can prepare their applications accordingly.

It’s important to communicate with your candidates at every stage of the process. For example, acknowledge that you have received their application and keep them updated throughout the review process. Candidates will appreciate that you’re keeping them informed, which makes a good first impression and helps prevent confusion and frustration along the way.

4. Prioritize Your Own Impression

While it is important for a candidate to make a good impression on you, it is equally important for your organization to make a good impression on your candidates. After all, you want every prospect to be excited about working at your event. That excitement will motivate candidates to apply and do their best work if they get the job.

Consider how you can sell your event to candidates as a great opportunity. For example, clearly highlighting the key benefits of working for your organization can be a powerful hook. Things like competitive pay, access to exclusive perks, and involvement with corporate social responsibility can go a long way in attracting top talent.

5. Improve Your Onboarding Process

There is nothing more frustrating to candidates than a complicated and confusing onboarding process. Excessive email chains and telephone calls can quickly make team members feel overwhelmed, but a lack of communication might cause frustration on all fronts.

That’s why it’s so important to build an effective onboarding process and invest in the right tools. Since event staff are often temporary staff, they require different structures than typical full-time team members. Consider offering the following:

– Online resources that allow candidates to complete their training at their convenience.
– Easy access to their schedules.
– Notifications and communication that are relevant to their work or shifts.
– Two-way communication with their managers or supervisors.

Ultimately, a good onboarding process should set your event staff up for success in their roles.

Now it’s time to start building your staffing plan and defining your needs to ensure your event is a success. Just remember: The more defined and streamlined your recruiting process, the better chance you have of recruiting the right people. Plus, an effective event team can help perfect your event brand and ensure an overall positive experience for guests.

Cassandra Smallman is head of marketing at InitLive. You can find her work on, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

By Cassandra Smallman