Retailers should be preparing for peak season hiring as the holidays are just two months away. Since many retailers have struggled to fill open positions over the past year and a half, the thought of hiring enough seasonal help could be frightful, rather than delightful.
Amid the Great Resignation, seasonal retail jobs dropped 7 percent from October through December 2021, despite record need and pent-up consumer demand. Although this year is better, there were still 842,000 retail job openings in June 2022, according to the August U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
A tight labor market and a shift in worker attitudes will likely make holiday hiring for retailers challenging, resulting in service gaps across the industry during the peak season. As retailers like you look to bolster holiday staff in stores, consider these tips to up the ante and successfully hire much-needed holiday help.
1. Hire sooner rather than later.
Don’t wait until the eleventh hour — the eleventh month — to staff up stores. Worldwide, Black Friday, which takes place Nov. 25, brings a 663 percent increase in sales compared to an ordinary shopping day, so it’s best to have shelves stocked far in advance.
If you want to find employees who will be helpful and empathetic to shoppers’ wants and needs, consider hiring now to get shelves adequately stocked and workers properly trained. Your bargain-hunting, early-bird shoppers will appreciate this, too.
2. Advertise openings on social media.
If you aren’t using LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok and other social platforms to post open positions, you're likely missing hundreds if not thousands of potential candidates.
Forty-five percent of job seekers responding to a recent CareerArc study conducted by The Harris Poll said social media is very important to their job search. Nearly half of Gen Z (48 percent) and millennials (48 percent) with work experience said they applied to positions found via social platforms. Therefore, get social and weave some holiday magic into your job-opening posts.
3. Compensate generously.
Last year, retailers including Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart increased wages and offered bonuses to support their retail staff. Under Armour rolled out a new in-store incentive program for all employees, even seasonal ones, that allowed for monthly bonuses that could equate at least 8 percent of their take-home pay. That came alongside bumping starting wages from $10 to $15.
If your pockets aren’t that deep, think about providing on-the-spot bonuses for a job well done or giving retail employees gift cards instead of a holiday party. More than half of respondents to a LinkedIn survey said they would prefer a bonus rather than seasonal celebrations or activities.
4. Offer on-demand pay.
Today’s society is used to getting what it wants on demand. People can use an app to order and pay for everything from meals to groceries to a ride — and get service within minutes. Similarly, they can transfer and request money instantly via apps like Zelle and Venmo. By offering prospective employees an earned wage access (EWA) solution, they can get ahold of a portion of their pay right after they’ve earned it, just like other on-demand solutions.
EWA is a benefit that can set you apart in a tough retail talent market, as it gives employees financial flexibility and freedom. EWA is the new way to pay and could very well become the way people bank in the future.
Provide a Holly, Jolly Employee Experience
Peak season will be here before you know it. Without enough seasonal help, it will be difficult to provide top-notch customer experience. Therefore, consider hiring now, posting open positions on social, providing extra pay — through higher hourly wages, bonuses or gift cards — and set yourself apart by offering workers an EWA solution that enables them to grab ahold of their earned wages when needed.
Brian Brinkley is the CEO of QRails, a cloud-based, API-driven, and developer friendly platform enabling innovative payment solutions.
Related story: 4 Ways to Kick-Start Your Holiday Planning to Get Ahead
Brian has over 30 years of experience in enterprise and start-ups. He is a leader in omnichannel commerce and digital payments technology. Brian founded Zave Networks which was acquired by Google in 2011 and became a key component of Google Wallet. Brian has held executive roles at Sprint PCS and Lucent Technologies. Brian joined QRails as CTO in 2019 and was asked to lead QRails growth strategy as CEO in 2021.