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Hiring Staff for an Event

Last updated December 21st, 2021

Hiring staff for an event is one of many tasks you’ll face in the planning and preparation phases of events. Yet it’s the one task that can take the most time and have the most influence over your success.

Ask any event manager what one of the biggest advantages is when event planning and they will likely say, having the right team around them.

It’s exactly the same for the event itself.

Having the right team on the day can make a huge difference to its success, the client experience and how much work or firefighting you’ll have to do!

Not everyone has the skills or experience to manage hiring staff for an event. Not everyone finds it easy to read people or to assess a good candidate from a bad one.

That’s why we put this quick guide together.

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide

Top tips for hiring staff for an event

We share some tried and tested tips for hiring staff for an event. It won’t solve all your problems but it can surely help!

Know what you’re hiring for

If you’re hip deep in event planning, you’ll know all too well what type of event you’re hiring for. But, if you have been brought in to help with recruitment, make sure you’re familiar with the event.

The hours, the clientele or attendees, the style, the type of work expected, the working environment and any specific skills you’re looking for.

Knowing what will be in store for candidates on the day will help you communicate the situation much better. This will give both of you a much better opportunity to make an informed decision.

Write a descriptive job outline

Or, more accurately, write descriptive job outlines, because you’ll likely be hiring multiple staff for an event.

Use the role description to provide a rough outline of what the event and the role will entail.

Use the role responsibilities section to outline exactly what the role in question will be expected to do. Bullet points work best but make the descriptions as accurate as possible.

Use the role requirements to outline any special qualifications, certifications or experience you’re looking for.

Don’t forget to add the usual, team player, good communicator, organisational skills, reliability, ability to multitask and all those qualities we expect from event staff.

Know the law

Event managers are many things, but the majority of us are not lawyers. But, if you recruit for anything, you need to know employment law, or have someone on hand that does.

You’ll need a contract, health and safety training, insurance, tax, safe working areas, fair pay and conditions, clear policies and procedures and all those things that go into a successful gig.

You also want everything in writing. From the prospect’s CV to the work contract.

Use agencies if budget allows

Recruitment agencies may be viewed much the same as estate agents but they can be useful. Hire a recruitment agency and they handle all the paperwork, the initial sifting and assume much of the liability of finding good quality staffing for events.

You’ll pay for the privilege of course but that’s part of the business. It’s also a fair return for handling all the little details you’re probably not going to have the time for.

There are specialist agencies that deal with event staff or you could use a high street agency. Much will depend on the type of role you’re recruiting for.

For specialist roles, we recommend using an agency with event experience or event specialist recruiters.

For generalist roles, you could probably use a high street recruiter as long as they have a good reputation.

Use experienced staff for smaller events

The smaller or more intimate the event, the more your staff will be prominent. That makes it worthwhile investing a little more in experienced staffing.

Even if they cost more, they will be more on display so it’s well worth spending a little extra to ensure they represent you in the way you would hope.

Plus, experienced staff can often be more flexible and wear more hats on the night. This gives you a little insurance should something go wrong or you need extra help where you didn’t anticipate.

Keep a list of reliable staff

You’ll come across some regular faces when hiring for events. Keep a record of who is reliable and who works hard (with their permission of course). Then call on those people first when you need to recruit.

You’ll build up relationships with regulars that can pay dividends on the night. You can also build a list of reliable people you’ll enjoy working with and who are less likely to let you down.

They get reliable income when required and you get reliable people to call on when you need them.

Always interview in person (or via video)

We have worked with event managers who left all the recruiting to agencies and let them handle everything. We wouldn’t recommend that.

It’s fine in an emergency or if you don’t have time, but in all other cases, you need to look the person in the eye.

It’s something in our lizard brain or subconscious that can pick out messages when you’re face to face that other sifting techniques won’t see.

We have seen this first hand and put our faith in being able to spend even a few minutes with each candidate to shake their hand, say hello and look them in the eye.

While handshaking and in-person interviews are problematic right now, do what you can within the limitations of the time.

Be a leader, not a boss

These two may be the same thing to some people but they are very different to others.

Be a leader and lead from the front. Always be there to help, show as well as tell and be on hand to assist, advise, guide and congratulate.

A leader can get the best out of people by leading by example. A boss is something completely different. Staff will enjoy working with a leader far more than working for a boss!

Have a clear hierarchy

Make sure everyone knows the organisation and where they fit into it. Make sure everyone knows who their direct report is, their areas of responsibility and what is expected.

Also make sure there is a clear escalation process, grievance process and you are always around to help solve problems.

Recruit well and there won’t be problems. But, we are human, so expect friction and do what you can to minimise or mitigate, depending on the situation.

Hold meetings before and after

We have all seen movies where leaders stand on top of something and give a stirring speech to inspire people. You don’t have to be like that, but you should speak.

Meetings with a clear purpose can be a power for good. They can make staff feel included and part of the event. It can show everyone you value them as well as what’s expected.

A meeting before the event and another after should be enough to get the best out of people!

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide
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