Hiring Extra Staff for the Holidays: A Guide
September 1, 2018
It’s the most wonderful, and busiest, time of the year.
Especially for retailers, the coming months are going to be insanely productive, potentially profitable, and definitely stressful. That’s why many retailers, large and small, opt to hire some temporary, seasonal employees.
It’s a trying task. Balancing the need for permanent, highly-skilled workers and someone to help stock shelves for a couple months is challenging. Especially considering the fact that most people would rather not work contract if given the choice.
Many retailers, large and small, opt to hire some temporary, seasonal employees.
So, to bypass the stress and give yourself a leg up before the holidays hit, we’ve compiled a guide to help retailers hire seasonal employees. Hopefully it makes things a little easier for this season, and every season to come.
Rule 1: know what you’re getting into before you go hiring everyone that comes your way.
Planning the right way means considering a few layers of your business.
- Think about what happened last year. If you’re a veteran business, you have the advantage of having numbers to project this year’s sales from. Check these numbers when considering seasonal staff. This can inform how many people you’re looking to hire, which positions you need filled, and how long the contracts will be.
- Don’t assume last year will be the same as this year. Getting some information from previous years is great, but taking advantage of them could end up being a bad thing. You may hire too many, or too few, employees, not hire the right people, and end up losing money or disappointing customers.
- Keep good records. If you’re relying heavily on last year’s numbers, chances are you’ll do the same thing next year. Future you will be more than grateful. On top of that, listen to the staff you do end up hiring. Check in and see if they feel overwhelmed, underworked, or like they aren’t doing enough. As important as numbers are, your employees, contract or not, are also a great resource. Keep track of what they tell you. It’ll be really useful next season.
Planning is crucial to retail success during the busy season. Do it right, and you’ll be rolling in dough. Do it wrong, and you’re in for a crappy holiday.
Get Started Early (As in Now)
This is definitely part of planning, but is a good thing to keep in mind.
Get in gear.
Honestly, if you haven’t looked into seasonal hiring before the end of October (probably by mid-month, actually), you’re cutting it really, really close. There are a few reasons for this.
First of all, your competitors (in retail or literally anyone else hiring seasonally at the same time you are) have probably already scooped up some great candidates. Throw an ad on Indeed or another hiring website, put some feelers out on LinkedIn or your own personal network, and get started as soon as you can.
It’s important you have enough time to give everyone the same in-depth training as everyone else.
Another reason to get in on the action as soon as possible is to have time to train. Unless you’re hiring the same people you did last year (which would be amazing, by the way), you’re going to have to show your new employees the ropes. It’s important you have enough time to give everyone the same in-depth training as everyone else.
The main point here is to give yourself enough time. Don’t stress. The holidays have enough of that. Hiring extra staff should be a stress reliever, not inducer.
It’s easy for business owners to skimp on training seasonal employees. They won’t be around forever, so you won’t have to deal with them for long anyway.
Thinking this way not only hurts you, but your customers, and your business largely as well.
Limited employment means limited time for training. So, getting everything your seasonal worker needs packed into such a short amount of time is a daunting task. What can end up happening is that the training is cut short, or isn’t seen as important. So, it’s skipped.
Give your seasonal hires the opportunity to talk with existing employees. They may ask questions they were worried to ask you.
Your employees need to know your products well enough to properly talk about and “sell” them, the layout of the store so they aren’t bumbling trying to answer a customers’ question, and everything else a permanent employee knows.
It doesn’t really matter how many people you hire if they aren’t trained properly. If you’re struggling to do this all yourself, have your other employees act as mentors or trainers for you. Give your seasonal hires the opportunity to talk with existing employees. They may ask questions they were worried to ask you.
Plus, once it does get busy, they’ll feel comfortable approaching their fellow employees instead of asking you for everything.
Set Clearly Defined Expectations
It’s good to have a sit-down with seasonal employees during and after the hiring stage. Talking about the role and its expectations makes sure you don’t hire the wrong person, and that they don’t take the wrong job.
Being open and honest about the job is the first thing you can do. Make sure the job posting clearly explains that the role is seasonal and temporary, with no plans for extension into a permanent position (if that’s what you’re looking for). When talking with the potential employee, reiterate this, and make sure they understand what that means.
That might sound condescending, but your employee has to be aware of what comes with a seasonal role.
Business owners can’t expect an employee with limited training and experience in the role to be as knowledgeable and prepared as a seasoned worker. It’s just not going to happen.
It’s busy, hectic, stressful, and can be immensely rewarding for the right person. Business owners can’t assume that everyone understands what comes with a seasonal role.
When setting the expectations, also make sure they aren’t too ridiculous. Business owners can’t expect an employee with limited training and experience in the role to be as knowledgeable and prepared as a seasoned worker. It’s just not going to happen.
By setting clear, realistic expectations, you aren’t disappointed, and your employee is better prepared for the role. It’s a win-win.
Legit, or Quit
We’re covering all the bases with this one.
At the heart of each step in this guide is the hope that business owners will treat seasonal, temporary, and contract employees like permanent and legitimate workers.
Whether it’s the training regiment, set expectations, or even the hiring process itself, business owners need to treat seasonal workers the same way they would anyone else. It’s not fair to the applicant, and it’s not fair to your business.
A seasonal employee that feels slighted or under-appreciated, for whatever limited time they’re working for you, won’t do the job as well as someone who feels respected and like part of the team.
That means treating them like legitimate employees in all aspects. Like proper payment. Do not pay them under the table. It’s bad for tax reasons, and for the general morale of your already-stressed seasonal staff.
For many retail businesses, hiring seasonal employees is a must during the holidays. There’s just too much work to be done in too little time. How you treat the hiring process, your preparation, and the workers themselves will have a major effect on your holiday earnings.
Customers can sense a bad employee, and a bad vibe in you already-busy store. We’re not kidding when we say treating temporary workers right will improve your holiday numbers. Customers won’t deal with it.
Do it right, or don’t do it at all.