7 tips for hiring and managing seasonal retail employees

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We are once again approaching the holiday season, which for retailers involves lots of store traffic, increased inventory, and, of course, a new batch of seasonal employees. U.S. retailers are expected to add as many as 800,000 temporary jobs this holiday season, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the most since the dotcom era of the late 1990s.

Large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target can have dozens of seasonal employees at each store, while smaller retailers may just bring in a couple of extra hands. But for any retailer, hiring, training, and managing seasonal employees can be a stressful experience because of the compact time frame and the addition of other stresses that are part of the retail holiday season.

Here are seven tips for managers in hiring, onboarding, and managing seasonal employees this holiday season:

1. Don’t make the hiring process to time-consuming: Seasonal employees are not applying to become CEO of the company – they are likely just looking for a little extra cash during the holidays. By making potential seasonal employees fill out a several-hour job application and go through several rounds of interviews, you are just losing quality applicants and making the process more tedious for you.

Make the application and interview processes short and to-the-point. A 30-minute or so job application and one-round of job interviews will likely suffice.

2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep: A lot of seasonal employees may be eager to sign on with the company full-time after the holiday season. Although you may want to mention the potential opportunity to become full-time following the holidays, it is important not to make any commitments.

3. Make training scalable:  If you have a lot of seasonal employees coming on board, make sure that training can be easily scalable so that each employee can all start on the same page. This could involve several large training sessions or even web-based training. Training employees in smaller groups just won’t make sense for a wave of seasonal employees onboarding simultaneously.

However, it is important that seasonal employees receive the same level of training that full-time staff receives. For retailers especially, having poorly trained seasonal staff makes a negative impression on a larger number of customers. Avoid this by making sure that employees come into work on the first day ready to hit the ground running.

4. Communication throughout is key: Make sure adequate plans and tools are in place to inform your temporary workers of schedules, work announcements, and anything else they need to do either before or during their time at the company. Make sure that these employees know where to find the most up-to-date information.

5. Provide schedules as far in advance as possible: Posting schedules just a couple of days in advance will likely irritate seasonal employees, which may lead to no-shows and poor customer service. Remember: seasonal employees are, at the end of the day, temporary employees, so the loyalty they have to the company is rather fickle. Therefore, they may be less inclined to forgive these types of mistakes.

In order to avoid these problems, make sure to post schedules as far in advance as possible. This will allow employees to exchange shifts and clear up conflicts.

6. Still lookout for permanent employees:  Although temporary employees are sometimes necessary for the midst of the holiday season, they shouldn’t be used to displace the permanent employees who have been loyal to the company. Make sure that your permanent employees, if possible, receive the same or more hours as before the holiday season. If the choice arises to send home a permanent employee or a temporary one due to slow traffic, it is best to choose the latter.

7. Remember that everyone is a potential customer, even (current or former) employees: From hiring to onboarding through the duration of employment, the way you treat seasonal employees will directly affect their impression of your brand. By making the seasonal employment experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible, you are developing brand advocates for the company. (Of course, this works for permanent employees as well).

Have any more questions about the seasonal hiring process? Feel free to drop us a line.

Amee Kent
Red e App Marketing Director

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