It's Not Too Late to Hire for the Holidays

Warehouse packaging workers with boxes and shipping materials
We’re well into the hiring season for seasonal workers and the demand this year is again high. But even if you’re just now starting to supplement your staffing to handle the holiday rush, there are some trends you should know, and strategies you can use to make sure you’re competitive in the marketplace.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s recent announcement that median household income had risen for the first time since 2007 is great news – for consumers who now have extra money to spend on gifts, retailers who are more than happy to supply those gifts and the hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers brought on to supplement sales, manufacturing, fulfillment and distribution activities.

Many major companies have already announced their plans for hiring. United Parcel Service will add 95,000 seasonal workers. Target will hire 70,000 seasonal workers and 7,500 team members for its distribution and fulfillment facilities. And Amazon will also ramp up hiring, including some work-from-home positions.

Shift in types of workers needed
For many years, retail sales positions dominated seasonal hiring, but the past few years have seen a change in the kind of positions being hired. The move to online retailing means the industry needs more staffing in transportation, warehouse and distribution.

As consumers continue their shift to online ordering, job locations are also changing. Two-day shipping, broadly popularized by Amazon Prime, led online retailers to join in the move away from one mega-distribution center to an array of distribution centers closer to customers. This is good news for regional economies, which can benefit from the additional business and employment.

With holiday shopping season accounting for up to 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation, retailers want to maximize sales, but they also understand the risks of understaffing which can include high costs due to overtime pay as well as costly mistakes that can lead to customer refunds and worst of all, damage to the customer relationship.

In this tight labor market, it’s critical to have the right staffing strategy to succeed. Competitive wages are a baseline, so offering a higher wage and/or offering incentives can be your strongest strategy – consider them an investment in creating the kind of revenue returns your company needs at the end of the calendar year.

You’ll also need to stand out in a crowded market of employers. Think about what advantages you can offer. Does your seasonal job offer a streamlined path to full-time work? Is your screening and hiring process straightforward and efficient? (Candidates aren’t interested in undergoing a lengthy, rigorous hiring process and you could lose out.) Can you offer flexibility in the hours required?

Engage a staffing partner to help you reach as many potential candidates as possible, because seasonal hiring is a numbers game. You need to reach with as many potential employees as possible, and make sure you have sufficient resources for screening and interviewing.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the changes in seasonal retail and the need to hire in volume, but you can still add the resources you need to make it a very happy holiday for your company.

Article by Sara Staggs
Director of Divisional Operations, Aerotek

Want to know more? If you’re a business looking to recruit manufacturing employees, contact Sara directly. If you’re looking for a job, visit our job board.