The Retailers Guide - Hiring Temporary Staff For The Holiday Season

Retailers are expected to hire 738,800 seasonal workers this year. Are you one of these retailers?

Whether you’re hiring in-store sales people, customer service help, or additional employees for your warehouse, we provide you with the retailers guide to hiring temporary staff for the holiday season.

Since holiday season retail sales are expected to rise 3.2% this year, it pays to be prepared with the right amount of staff to handle the extra work. Here’s how to hire seasonal employees for the holidays.

Hire Early

Don’t wait too long to begin the hiring process for your seasonal job openings.

While many retailers wait until November to place their job openings, we recommend you start this process in October. Why?

Beginning a bit early gives you time to find and train the right people to take over your seasonal work. This extra time gives you a cushion so you can take your time hiring the most qualified candidates.

Look for Self-Starters

Since there isn’t a lot of time for extraneous training and onboarding, you want to hire people who are more than able to do the job. You want willing participants who are self-starters.

For example, hiring someone who has no experience in retail isn’t a great idea for your boutique during the holidays. Their training will take longer as you’ll not only be teaching them your store processes but how to sell as well.

As we mentioned earlier, look for these self-starters before the holiday season hits because the best candidates will go quickly.

The typical self-starter is already looking for seasonal help well before the time they actually need it. By beginning your process early, you can nab the self-starters who know what they’re doing.

Over Hire

You can’t go wrong by over hiring staff for the holiday season.

While your first instinct is to hire cheap labor in the form of students or younger people, give your business a leg up on the competition and hire a mature worker.

You’ll find the more mature worker a blessing during the stressful holiday season. They often bring a wide toolbox of knowledge and experience with them and can add much needed balance to your team.

Consider retired workers or those workers who only want to work during the holidays. Perhaps you’ll find a core group of seasonal employees who’ll return season after season which means less training and time spent on the hiring process.

When it comes to retirees, you’ll find a wide open job market, and these people make excellent candidates. Not only are they valuable workers, but they are often the most dedicated of employees.


Look Around You

Take a week or two and look at the people who come into your store. Are there regulars who come in every month or every week to see what’s new?

Do you have any long-term customers you’ve gotten to know over the years? Keep your eyes open for these people.

You already know they are loyal to your business and enjoy your products. Offer them a seasonal job working for you in exchange for a holiday-only discount. You’ll find that these loyal customers, aka brand advocates, already know a lot about your products and are dedicated to helping you.

The exchange of a paycheck for a few months along with a holiday discount can convince these loyal customers to jump on board.

Hire Happy People

Let’s face it, the holiday season is stressful, and holiday shoppers can be impatient and easily annoyed.

Hire happy, patient staff who are able to stay calm during stressful transactions. This is especially true for your retail sales and customer service positions.

Take a long hard look at your candidate’s personality. If they are bubbly and warm, that’s a good sign.

Look to the Future

It’s a good idea to look towards the future when hiring seasonal employees. You never know which person will hit all of your qualifications in such a fantastic way that you’d want to hire them full time.

A word of advice, though – when hiring seasonal employees don’t lead them to believe the job can continue into the future. Only offer them long-term employment after the holiday season if they exceed your expectations.

Additional reading: How to Find Hourly Employees: The Definitive Guide (2018 Update)

Final Thoughts

When hiring temporary staff for the holiday season, train them the same way you would your regular employees because they most often need to know the same things.

Treat them as you would your full time staff. Remember that all of your employees, whether seasonal, part-time or full time, respond to fair, respectful treatment.

Finally, if you hired the right employees for your temporary work, you might find they are very dedicated to your retail business.

Why? Because they feel like they are benefitting from a mutual agreement – they benefit from the extra holiday money, and you benefit from the extra staff. All in all, it’s a win-win for everyone.

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