Talent Circles

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Seasonal and Holiday Workforce Hiring Guide

Fall is upon us.  And yet for many companies in the retail, hospitality, and restaurant industries, the holiday and seasonal hiring is just beginning.  So while for some the holiday season is a time to slow down, reflect, and cut loose, it’s the busiest time of year for many other managers and employees alike.  This 2012 holiday season is expected to see an increase of 700,000 workers many of them working in the industries I described above.  Kohl's a popular discount department store is expected to increase seasonal hiring by 10%.  As someone who’s spent the bulk of her human resources career working in these high volume and seasonal industries, it can be tough.  It’s extremely important to plan in advance when developing your holiday and temporary hiring strategy.  Customers of these industries expect store shelves to be stocked, quick checkout, correct and delicious orders, and customer service to be delivered. 

Holiday Staffing Best Practices

Planning your holiday hiring strategy is essential to end the fiscal year with a bang.  It’s more than just mass and speed interviewing candidates.  It involves planning, communication, and recruitment marketing to find the right job seekers to fill those open positions driving sales and the customer experience.
  • ·      View Last Year’s Sales.  Pull your last year’s weekly sales as well as the number of employees hired by department and job.  If available, talk with your management team about what the challenges were last year and where gaps existing and begin to plan your temporary staffing plan looking at sales per hour for the entire location and different departments. 
  • ·      View Your Location’s Sales Forecasts by Week.  It’s important to understand where and when payroll hours are being added.  In a retail setting, you would hire stockers and truck unloaders as the holiday product push begins so store shelves can be filled.  Cashier and sales positions are hired later and are trained just before sales begin to increase from average levels. 
  • ·      Tiered Hiring.  Don’t hire everyone at once.  In these types of industry verticals, payroll is life.  Interview and offer job seekers immediately building a candidate war board with expected start dates based on sales predictions.  Over hire by 10-15% knowing that background checks will fail and job offers won’t work out. 
  • ·      Host a Job Fair.  Nothing feels more productive than scheduling yourself and your managers a one day 4 hour block of 30 minute interviews.  With 10 managers, you can knock out 80 interviews making job offers on the spot.  This goes a long way in hiring quickly and efficiently.  Managers can schedule their time appropriately in a single four hour interval instead of being pulled away in 30 minute meetings that always seem to be inconvenient. 
  • ·      Recruit Your Customers.  The best seasonal workers are often regular customers at your place of business.  Share your holiday staffing openings with them using bag stuffers and signage around the store.  Find creative ways to reach your audience using a talent network or my favorite, holiday hiring signs posted in the stalls of the bathroom. 

  • ·      Communicate.  Communicate.  Communicate.  I learned quickly my first holiday season that it’s important to set clear expectations and communication guidelines with your team especially those that are temporary workers.  Make them aware of the hour requirements including evenings and weekends, but make sure to make the interactions, engagements, and announcements fun.  Happy employees are productive employees and can make a difference between an awesome or okay holiday sales season. 

Successful Seasonal Staffing with Temporary Employees

Developing a holiday hiring strategy takes work, research, and a team effort going beyond human resources and working directly with general managers and the rest of your company’s store management team.  Work with them to understand their objectives and point of contention to make sure that your 2012 holiday staffing plan goes off without a hitch.  

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs


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