Holiday Hiring Wish List: Three Best Practices

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Holiday Hiring Wish List: Three Best Practices

By John Orr, Ceridian - 10/24/2016

My family – and many other consumers – have already started planning for the holidays. With Deloitte projecting a 4% increase in holiday sales over last year's shopping season, it’s critical that you have the workforce in place to address this opportunity.

My first recommendation may sound counterintuitive: don’t hire for the holidays. You need to have a hiring philosophy with a longer term strategy. Certainly, based on your business, you may need short-term labor that doesn’t require a high level of skill or training. However, these employees are still essential to creating a positive customer experience; simply bringing in people to pack-and-ship isn’t going to support this objective.

The following is a “wish list” of best practices to make this a successful holiday season:

1. Invest in the seasonal employee experience

A seasonal employee needs to be fully embraced within your retail organization. As I’ve mentioned, improving the customer experience means improving the internal customer or employee experience. This starts right at the beginning with the job postings and descriptions. Leverage workforce management systems to get a clear view of coverage gaps by location, department, job, skill requirements, and day of week and time of day. This will allow you to provide specific and detailed hiring information so that applicants understand what is needed and can determine if they are a match.

Once onboarded, you need to ensure your seasonal employees are engaged. Use technology to improve communication and support work-life balance with dynamic scheduling and mobile access and interaction. Don’t forget your brand is created and reinforced by employees’ experience working there – whether three months or three years – and the impressions these employees share with their communities and networks significantly impacts brand equity.

2. Treat holiday hires to ongoing communication and insight

The holiday season brings about special promotions and power hours. Sometimes the hours of operation are dictated by mall ownership, in other cases you have the flexibility to set special hours. Keep employees and the workforce management systems up-to-date with this information. This enables the technology to do what it’s supposed to do – anticipate and plan for different volumes, cycles and workforce demands. It also eliminates the unpopular need for “Plan B” – call in shifts.

Focusing employees on store performance enables stores to efficiently hit their targets and goals. Leverage technology to help associates see how well they are covering the floor, serving customer demands, and managing the budgets. Whether a seasonal or long term employee, the result is a better prepared, more confident, and engaged workforce to serve holiday shoppers.

3. Get creative in finding the right fit and use technology to simplify the process

Hiring for the holiday season shouldn’t be done in desperation. Have a good understanding of your needs – right down to the schedules and skills – and solicit the help of your current employee base. If you’ve been treating your workforce right, they will be happy to refer friends or family for open positions. If you followed the previously noted best practices, you may also find success recruiting from your base of prior high-performing seasonal workers.

Partnering with local schools and universities can generate good will as well as good hires. Turn to your loyal customers – they know what they like about your brand and their experience and may enjoy the opportunity to be on the delivery side (especially if there are special discounts and other perks.) Also, remember that workforce management technology can be an ally in hiring seasonal and long-term employees by automating and simplifying the best practices on this wish list.

Don’t waste another minute in implementing your holiday hiring plan – it’s critical to delivering on your seasonal revenue targets.

John Orr is senior VP of retail at Ceridian, a human capital management technology company.

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