5 Common Mistakes When Hiring Casual Event Staff

From the perception of your guests, the staff serving them are an extension of your business, and every single person that represents your company at an event, are a part of this. Avoiding the most common mistakes when hiring event staff can save your brand’s reputation, and the event itself.

Here are five common mistakes event planners make when hiring casual staff.


1. Poor Pre-Planning

Before approaching a staffing agency, develop a plan around the objectives and nature of the event. Pre-planning allows you to understand what type of staff you’ll need and how many you’ll need to hire.

An effective staffing ratio depends on total number of guests, and the type of event. When planning, you may find the need for additional staff to set up tables, bars and back of house areas. Depending on the scale and nature of event, you may need a few people to collect money for tickets, but you’ll only know numbers once you have executed an effective pre planning stage. 

Once you have planning in place, create a brief description of the kind of people you‘re looking for, their work ethics, job descriptions, skills, personality and presentation. You can then keep this for the future and build these into more complete job descriptions.


2. Leaving staffing to the last minute

Catering and event management companies who leave staffing to the last minute place unnecessary pressure on the event, which will affect the ability for the agency to a) secure the best staff and b) for you to ensure the event is a success. 

If the invitations for the event have been sent to guests, you need to have alerted your staffing partner with the maximum staff you may need. As described above, this guarantees the most suitable staff have been allocated to your event and ensures your staffing partner can close off the day to other ad hoc requests and focus their 100% attention on your event.


3. Not Hiring Enough Casual Event Staff

Many event planners, specifically those just starting out, like to think they can save a buck or two by hiring a minimal amount of staff. However, too few staff can lead to long queues and lack of service.

It’s better to hire more casual staff than too few. An experienced staffing provider will actually factor in extra staff as contingency or insurance plan in case of last minute changes.

Unsure of how many staff you need? An experienced hospitality staffing partner will provide options for every scenario you can imagine.


4. Hiring for skills over personality

Don’t make the mistake of saying no to staff that don’t have all the skills. Working in event operations isn't rocket science and most young and engaged candidates can pick up the necessary skills in next to no time.

Candidates with big personalities who can engage with your guests are more likely to turn a bad guest experience into a positive one over someone who has the personality of a fish. 

A good way to test for these attributes is to set up a skills assessment / interview for your open roles. This was you can examine personality traits, review confidence and engagement opportunities as well as grade for technical skills before you hire.

Then assign lowly skilled candidates to your stand up receptions with a good measure of support from more experienced personnel and filter in training opportunities for seated dinners and more complex sequence of service.

Assessing candidates to fit your brand and style is essential to the success of your event, as well as the reputation of your brand.

Get more information about what to look for when deciding on casual event staff.


5. Lack Of Empowerment

I recently heard about a story where some guests had apparently arrived too late and were turned away. The guests requested to see a manager to provide feedback and apparently were not alone in their frustration; another couple were also “too late” to enter. 

They were told by door staff, that the manager was not available and there was nothing they could do. I retorted that it seemed there was nothing she wanted to do. The response? “I don’t work for this company, I was only hired for the event”. Hmm. 

It made the company hosting the event seem disorganised and sloppy. Why? Because that staff member had not been empowered to deal with complaints. They knew nothing about handling an irate person. Even worse, because these staff were not employed on a full-time basis with the company, it was evident they did not care.

To prevent something like this happening at your event and the potential for ruining your reputation, you need to a) provide detailed briefing for all casual event staff and b) empower them to handle your guests. Their responses to a question asked, or something said, reflects on your business, not the agency who provided the casual staff.

 Human Resources Test

About the author Marlowe Bennett

Drawing on 22 years personal experience and over 23,000 professional hours working across Sydney’s hospitality industry, these articles intend to inspire young candidates to join our industry and support aligned operators in building positive employment environments for the aspiring hospitality professional. Please feel free to contact me directly if you feel I could help or if you would like us to cover an important topic or industry matter.


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