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Nov 29
Hiring Dependable Holiday Help A Challenge for Retailers

Finding dependable temporary employees to help during November and December often presents a huge challenge for retailers. Transient employees who quit after only a week or two or who have questionable backgrounds are real headaches for store managers at holiday crunch time. The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for stores' customers who want fast, courteous, knowledgeable assistance.

The wrong type of temporary help can be costly to the bottom line and the store's reputation.

Although seasonal employees may be hired to work only a few weeks, they represent the company to customers. Likewise, the company is as equally responsible for the behavior of its temporary employees as it is its veteran workers.

Hiring temporary workers at the last minute can drastically increase overhead expenses. Having to hire a second or third time can cost upwards to $5,000, not to mention hiring someone whom may steal merchandise or damage customer relationships.

Taking the time to hire qualified temporary workers can save literally thousands of dollars.

Employers can use the following suggestions to help ensure the individuals they hire during the holiday shopping season are dependable, capable and trustworthy.

** Begin your search for holiday help early. Waiting until mid-November to recruit temporary workers means many of the better workers are already employed.

** Determine the specific jobs temporary employees will be doing, how many will be needed, and the duration of the temporary job. Based on last year's holiday season, establish which operations really need extra people and define the exact type(s) of jobs they are doing. Develop a recruitment campaign based on actual job descriptions.

** Use the same process for hiring temporary employees that you do for career workers. Don't skip background checks on any individual considered for employment. Conduct a stringent interview process to make sure the temporary employees are a good fit with the store's expectations and the regular employees.

** Rely on the familiar. Contact good temporary workers from previous years. They might like to work again this year or could recommend some reliable replacements.

** Train, train, train. Conduct a thorough orientation for the temporary employees. Pay them to begin training early. Policies and procedures taken for granted by regular workers may be misunderstood by new hires. Time taken up front explaining the details of the operation will be well spent. It is better to find out during training that someone cannot do the job.

** Be flexible. Keep in mind that many seasonal employees are high school and college students or individuals who are working part time to earn extra money. Instead of hiring full-time people for short periods, consider hiring several to work more abbreviated schedules to accommodate existing schedules.

Finding the right people is only half the challenge when hiring seasonal help. The other half is keeping them employed until the season is over.

After spending time and money to recruit early, carefully screening applicants and then hiring temporary employees for the holiday shopping season, store managers are prudent to find ways to keep the temporary employees until the holiday rush is over.

Pay competitive wages. Give a bonus for sales or for staying until the end of the season, or offer temporary employees an employee's discount on goods they buy. Each of these will serve as incentives to the temporary employee.

Make starting to work an event for temporary employees. Announce their arrival and introduce new employees to current staff. If possible, use a buddy system so new hires have someone non-threatening to talk to if they have questions or encounter problems.

Treat new workers with respect, giving them stable working conditions and regular hours. Temporary seasonal employees have a right to know when and where they will be working. Floating positions that fill in wherever needed should be reserved for veteran workers who better understand the entire operation.

The money and time spent in matching the right people to the right job will pay dividends in the long run.

The development and retention of a high performance workforce requires a substantial commitment over time.

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