It’s time to put away those pumpkins and ghosts – and get ready to deck the halls again.
While Thanksgiving used to mark the beginning of the “holiday rush,” retailers in Middle Tennessee (and across the country, for that matter) began setting up their holiday displays in mid-October this year. Why? In an effort to boost revenues, stores tried to entice shoppers to begin their seasonal spending just a little bit earlier. Because despite an anemic economy, the National Retail Federation is still predicting a holiday spending increase of 2.8% (slightly higher than the 10-year average), which means that consumers will indeed be opening their wallets this year.
But, of course, the holiday rush is not limited to retailers. For companies that deal in manufacturing, hospitality, shipping/delivery, customer service, travel and even finance, the end of the year can be an extremely busy – if not the busiest – time of year.
So although we’ve not yet reached fall’s midpoint, it’s time to gear up if you anticipate a need for seasonal help this year. Use this list of tips to find the best seasonal employees and get the best results from them:
Find the Best
Bring back your superstars. Start by contacting your best holiday workers from last year. If you used a staffing service last season, you can even request specific temporary employees again. Because they’ve already proven themselves on the job, and understand your company and its workflow processes, these workers are the smartest choice.
Consider a variety of sources. If you will be recruiting on your own, cast a wide net to develop your applicant pool. Sources of potential seasonal employees include job fairs, classified ads, online job sites, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and referrals from current employees.
Partner with a staffing service. Because they maintain databases of highly skilled candidates who are ready to work, a staffing service can quickly supply the temporary help you need to closely match your fluctuating demand. As an added benefit, a staffing firm handles all the recruiting, interviewing and background checks you require, so you can stay focused on your most important priorities. To get the best results, invite the staffing representative to your work location. Give him a tour of your site, so he can develop a first-hand picture of your exact staff requirements.
Offer competitive pay. Make sure you attract top performers by paying at or above competitors’ rates. During your busy season, you need high quality supplemental staff who can learn quickly, perform consistently and ultimately increase productivity – so it’s worth it to pay a little more for the right people.
Manage for Success
Start off on the right foot. The seasonal rush can be hard and stressful on everyone – especially workers who are new to your company. Get everyone on your staff (direct, seasonal and/or temporary employees) together for a pre-rush kick-off to let them know how much they are appreciated. Use this opportunity to orient and introduce new employees, wrapping up with a formal tour and review of company policies.
Provide adequate training. Although it’s time-consuming, be sure to give seasonal employees the training they need to succeed. They may only be working for you for a short time, but their performance is no less important to your company’s success. After an initial orientation, pair each supplemental worker with a permanent employee for practical training and support during the learning curve. Ultimately, well-trained workers will be more independent, productive and less likely to make costly mistakes.
Closely monitor initial performance. During your busy season, you shouldn’t tolerate – and can’t afford – mediocre performance. If a seasonal worker isn’t living up to your standards, replace him. Staffing services provide a distinct advantage in this respect, because most offer replacement guarantees on their temporary workers. If the assigned employee does not perform as expected within an initial time period, the staffing service will provide a replacement, free of charge.
Consider completion bonuses. Dealing with high turnover during a critical time can disrupt workflow, waste valuable time and potentially cost you customers. Encourage seasonal workers to stay for the duration of your busy season by offering a cash incentive or gift card for completion.
Ensure Seasonal Staffing Success – This Year and Next
The holiday season is already ramping up, and Wood Personnel is ready to answer your call. Throughout Middle Tennessee, we deliver the clerical/administrative, light industrial, technical and professional staff our clients need to thrive during their busiest time of year.
Successful seasonal staffing requires careful planning, so learn what you can from this year. As you progress through the next few months, take notes on what works and what doesn’t. Keep records of what types and how much supplemental staff you require, so you can refer to this information next year. Mark your 2012 calendar with dates to begin recruiting early and/or meet with Wood Personnel to plan your seasonal staffing needs.