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Strategic Holiday Hiring

The holiday season brings festive cheer … and it brings out the shopper in all of us. To handle the extra traffic, retailers hire temporary workers to work in their stores, warehouses and distribution centers to handle more store foot traffic and fulfill online orders. It’s a very common strategy to address a change in demand, but it’s also reactive. What retailers are missing is an opportunity to be more strategic and proactive about their temporary workforce.

Here are four ways to utilize an on-demand workforce that achieves more for your company than simply filling a one-time role or temporary need.

1) Test out new staffing patterns.

For retailers, one of the biggest staffing challenges is finding the right balance of employees to consumers. Too many workers in the store isn’t cost effective, and too few can mean poor customer service. Whether it’s from overpaying workers or missing out on potential sales to unhappy customers, both scenarios result in lost revenue. To strike the optimal staffing level, companies can use temporary workers to test out new patterns. Before making the jump to hire new employees (and the administrative burden that comes along with it), retailers can use on-demand, highly trained workers while they’re refining their strategy.

2) Use it as a trial period for workers.

Short-term work arrangements are a great way to ensure someone will be a fit for your company. The “try-before-you-buy” concept is not new, but many retailers take advantage of this strategy during the holiday season. Last year, Amazon brought 14,000 of its temporary workers onboard full-time and the company plans to hire even more of it holiday temps this year. Doing this allows you to see the potential hire’s skills in real-life scenarios, how he/she fits in culturally with your team and how he/she handles the stress of your company’s busy season.

3) Experiment with new training plans or strategies.

For national or even global retail chains, the training process is a company-wide directive that often doesn’t take into account regional or other specific nuances. If your new employees aren’t contributing as quickly as you would like, perhaps it could be time to examine your training processes and determine what can be tweaked for better results. Your temporary workforce is an optimal audience to try out new tactics.

4) Get your full-time team management experience.

Temporary help is necessary for the holiday season, but consider the other benefits it can provide for your full-time staff as well. Do you have employees who you are evaluating for promotions or leadership positions? Giving them a managerial role over your holiday workforce will provide them the experience they need on a trial basis. If he or she isn’t handling the role up to your standards, there’s no awkward revoke of the responsibility or confusion for employees.   

Before bringing on your holiday temps this season, come up with a plan to extend their value and strengthen your team and your company.

October 28, 2016 | Kelly Hickey