3 Key Takeaways for Businesses Hiring for the Holiday Season
October is the busiest hiring month of the year, and while passive job seekers can use the fall season to cast a wide net to see what’s available, a majority of job hunters will spend their pre-Halloween time searching for seasonal jobs to supplement the remaining months of the year. The holiday season is also an equally important time for employers heading into perhaps the most lucrative sales period of the year. However, with unemployment at a historically low rate, employers must stay vigilant in a rapidly changing holiday workforce landscape.
Employers promoting short-term gigs might not understand the needs and expectations of the seasonal employees eager to fill those temporary roles. As the competition for quality workers continues to increase, employers that want to attract the best and brightest need to understand how the employment landscape is changing. More importantly, they need to be armed with what workers are really looking for to make sure they have the necessary talent in their stores and warehouses.
Bluecrew, the on-demand staffing platform exclusively for flexible W-2 work, and Toluna, a leading consumer intelligence platform that delivers insights on demand, created the 2019 Holiday Hiring Report, surveying more than 800 entry-level holiday job seekers to understand how they’re thinking about working over the holidays.
Here are some key takeaways for employers.
Everyone Can Take Advantage of Demand
Overall demand for seasonal work remains strong. About 38 percent of the total survey population, and 66 percent of the key 18-34-year-old demographic, indicated they're currently looking for seasonal jobs. The largest swath of holiday job seekers (58 percent) are taking on a holiday job to earn extra money, while 40 percent plan to use the extra earnings to cover their monthly expenses.
Job seekers remain focused on retail stores as the top pick for seasonal destinations according to 25 percent of respondents, followed by restaurants (16 percent), customer support (15 percent), and warehouse/logistics (14 percent). And while larger economic trends might be pushing overall hiring down across a struggling retail sector in general, end-of-year demand for both employees and employers continues to trend upwards. That means that despite the current worker-friendly market, employers still have some leeway to assemble the perfect prospects for their seasonal teams.
Couple that with the 63 percent of respondents who indicated that it will be easy to land a holiday season job through online job marketplaces or job boards (30 percent), social media (23 percent), and mobile apps (16 percent), and marketers are primed to have a field day with seasonal recruiting opportunities. With a clear multichannel demand, marketers can directly connect with the right seasonal workforce demographics across diverse destinations, then micro-target the best prospects.
Stretch the Parameters of Your Holiday Season Employee Hunt
While the primary focus may be capitalizing on sales in the final few months of the year, an increasing number of job seekers are prepping their hunt from all the way back to late summer. At 63 percent, the vast majority of job seekers began looking for holiday employment before October, with a combined 40 percent starting their search in July and August, and about 34 percent starting in September.
Along with the increased demand, employers now have more time to bring on temporary workers to supplement their end-of-year strategies. Recruitment doesn’t need to be hasty. Instead, retailers can take advantage of the sliding expectations of the start of the holiday season, as well as the majority of respondents (63 percent) that expect to be given 25 hours or less per week by their employer, to target the best talent to fill initially temporary roles.
It also gives employers a better shot at establishing a robust and intrinsic employee pipeline to get new talent in the door. Not only are workers looking for current temporary work, but more than half of the surveyed respondents prefer traditional W-2 employment vs. working as a gig contractor. Any seasonal work will most likely be a trial run optimized for more long-term employment come January and beyond.
Maintain Flexible Seasonal Schedules
Despite pipeline potential, perhaps the most important takeaway for employers is understanding just how much respondents prioritize a flexible schedule, and the ability to work more hours over getting the highest pay rate when looking for a holiday job.
This highlights the overall supply and demand nature of holiday work. Companies need extra employees to cater to the demands of their holiday rush, and potential employees are more than eager to help them achieve those goals. But they expect to be compensated accordingly — 32 percent of respondents expect their hourly rate to be $13.26 or higher, nearly double the federal minimum wage.
This points to a broader understanding and acceptance of how gig economy-type markets affect sales seasons. Multiple jobs are more common than ever. Fifty-five percent of respondents plan to work two or more jobs during the holiday season compared to 40 percent that will only work one job as their only source of income. Therefore, the overall flexibility is beneficial to both employee and employer.
Jay Rampuria is executive vice president of business development at Toluna, an ITWP Company that provides consumer insights designed to empower success in today's on-demand, global economy.