The onset of fall means it’s time for retailers to begin stocking up — not just on inventory, but on seasonal staff as well.
Looking at Last Year’s Trends
According to a 2015 survey from Monster, demand for seasonal employment grew 26 percent from the previous year. Employers said they planned to hire for the following positions:
- customer service (46 percent);
- hosting and greeting (17 percent); and
- shipping and delivery (16 percent).
This time last year, e-commerce giant Amazon.com was ramping up for a massive holiday workforce of 25,000 permanent hires and 100,000 seasonal hires. UPS planned to add 95,000 seasonal workers to support its hike in business between November and January, while its competitor FedEx planned to add 50,000.
Meanwhile, MarketWatch released a list of the best places to look for a holiday job, which included big-name retailers like Macy’s (85,000 jobs), Target (70,000 jobs), Kohl’s (69,000 jobs) and Wal-Mart (60,000 jobs).
And the season was certainly a busy one. According to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving weekend last year drew crowds of over 100 million in-store shoppers, each spending $300 on average. In total, the holiday shopping season rang up more than $630 billion in U.S. sales.
Preparing for the 2016 Rush
With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that retailers usually begin hiring four months before Christmas. Smart hiring managers (backed by smart HR organizations) know better than to be caught understaffed at holiday time. Shoppers are ready to spend, and if you’re not prepared to help them, you could be missing out on $830 per person. Keep these tips in mind when making your hires:
1. Avoid the scrooges. Being prepared is about more than hitting the hiring quota. Yes, you need people to run the store, stock new inventories and manage distribution, but don’t get too short sighted. Customer service is all about the customer, and as you add people to your staff, you’re creating a dynamic that will influence the holiday shopping experience.
That’s why it’s so important to hire for traits like sociability, accommodation, frustration tolerance and teamwork. You’re selling consumer goods and Christmas gifts, but also healthy doses of holiday cheer. Your seasonal staff, especially your front-line workers, have the power to make or break the experience for everyone who walks through your door.
2. Play the long game. Another thing to keep in mind as you hire seasonal staff is long-term potential. Stop thinking of seasonal hires as temporary, because not all of them are. Nearly half of U.S. employers plan to transition seasonal workers to permanent staff, and permanent staff feeds the talent pipeline for leadership. A prime example is Wal-Mart, which promotes about 75 percent of its hourly staff to management.
When it comes to holiday hiring, play the long game. Look for people who fulfill the immediate need, but also keep an eye out for people with the skills and competencies necessary to move up in your organization. That way, when a leadership position becomes available, you’ll have internal candidates at the ready. To quickly determine job fit, readiness and potential this holiday season, try adding assessments to your hiring process.
Greg Moran is the president and CEO of OutMatch, a talent acquisition software assisting pre-hire selection and predicting post-hire success.