It’s the season to be jolly. As customers make the last mad dash to stores to tick the final item off their holiday shopping lists, organizations are doing their utmost to leverage the holiday spirit to improve their bottom lines.
Brands have come to realize that in order to have a successful holiday period it’s not enough to simply stock their shelves and decorate their properties. Very importantly, they have to cater for the increase in foot, online, or inbound call traffic by increasing their staff levels for a short period, making hiring seasonal employees as commonplace as tinsel and eggnog.
Large retailers have announced their hiring plans for this holiday season, with 70,000 being the magic number for both Amazon—a 40 percent increase over its 2012 seasonal hires—and Target. Toys R Us said it needs 45,000 seasonal workers.
With a 7 percent unemployment rate in the United States, people wanting some extra cash to spend during the holidays, and students looking for jobs during their school break, it might sound easy to fill these spots. But savvy business leaders understand that it’s not just about making the numbers; they need to hire the right people for the job or risk turning customers off through a negative experience.
While companies, especially the larger ones, might be spoiled for choice when it comes to people wanting a short-term job, the first thing they need to do is find the ones who are brand advocates. These people know the company’s products and are passionate about them, a vital characteristic when they’re trying to convince other customers to make a purchase. Companies seeking brand advocates to fill seasonal positions are also benefiting from reduced training requirements since the new hires are already well versed in both the company’s products and processes. In fact, for many of them, this is a point of pride and they want to share it with other customers.
Companies might shy away from hiring brand advocates because they don’t want to give employee discounts to those who would have still done business with the brand. This is shortsighted, and business leaders should instead recognize that these hires are likely to buy more from that brand because they are passionate about it.
As brand advocates do business with these companies, they know their products and policies quite well. This results in them requiring less training to be able to work effectively, and translates into a lower cost of onboarding and a greater speed to proficiency. Companies can focus their training on areas that really matter. One mistake that organizations tend to make is to overload their seasonal employees with too much information in a short time span. Rather than teach the seasonal employees everything, they should train them on only the things they need to know. Organizations should look at the most commonly asked questions or processes required during the holiday season and train seasonal workers to carry out these tasks perfectly. Long-term employees can be called in for more complex requirements. Not only will this lead to higher satisfaction among permanent workers who aren’t bogged down with the more mundane tasks, but it provides brands with a glimpse into who among their full-time staffs has leadership qualities and should be nurtured further. Companies can spend the money they save on providing leadership and coaching training to the full-time employees before the season rush as a great way to drive morale through career pathing.
Finally, work to find the right seasonal employees should be a year-round process rather than a rush at the end of summer. Companies should be consistently identifying their brand advocates and reaching out to them to offer positions during the holidays. It’s a great way for companies to gift themselves during the hectic hiring season.