October 20, 2016

6 steps to optimizing seasonal hiring

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‘Tis the season to be hiring. Already, Deloitte has predicted sales will grow between 3.6 and 4 percent for the 2016 holiday season, which means the need for store employees will increase as well. According to recently released corporate statements, Macy’s plans to hire 83,000 employees, Target plans to add 70,000 store workers plus 7,500 more in e-commerce warehouses, and Kohl’s plans to hire 69,000 seasonal staffers.

Even if your seasonal hiring needs aren’t quite that robust, you’re likely still looking at adding employees to help meet the demands of hurried, stressed out customers. While your seasonal employees are lifesavers when it comes to making sales, keeping your stores clean and organized, and giving your customers the attention they deserve, this influx of new people can be challenging for day-to-day operations and loss prevention.  

 

How seasonal hiring affects day-to-day operations

Abbreviated training for seasonal employees means they don’t get as much time to feel comfortable with the register or store procedures before getting thrown into customer interactions. The combination of shoppers who are in a hurry to check loved ones off their shopping lists and employees who are slower to ring, bag and help customers find items can mean frustration for everyone.

 

How seasonal hiring affects loss prevention

The chaos of the holiday shopping season is, unfortunately, a perfect recipe for loss. Seasonal workers don’t always receive the same rigorous training as long-term employees, so they’re prone to make more mistakes that lead to unrecoverable loss. Additionally, the temporary nature of their employment might make them bolder and more tempted to take advantage of disorder by skimming cash or product. If your loss prevention team has poor tracking tools and can’t see over/short trends, they might not even see a problem before it’s too late and the associate’s time at the store is over.

 

Six steps to ensuring smooth sailing for seasonal hires

    1. Begin with smart hiring.  Look for people who thrive on challenge and like a fast-paced, exciting atmosphere. If you know you will have positions to fill in January, make sure the seasonal hires know that – it often leads to increased focus and feelings of loyalty.
    2. Implement robust training practices. Address situations most likely to cause confusion around the holidays – how to handle returns, Black Friday procedures, price matching guidelines, customer service best practices and shoplifting policies.
    3. Establish a clear line of communication. Who should seasonal employees contact when they have a question or concern? What requires immediate attention from a manager? Establish clear procedures on how to communicate and report issues right away.
    4. Inspire teamwork. Often, seasonal hires feel “second class” compared to long-term employees, so make sure everyone appreciates their value. Implement a buddy system in which seasonal hires are matched with a permanent employee who can help answer questions and correct mistakes on each shift. 
    5. Prioritize loss prevention visibility. Discuss the previous day’s over/short regularly and reward employees and departments with no shortages. Create an atmosphere of accuracy – make sure all employees know that shortages will be noticed. Ensure consistency by making sure regular associates follow store policy and lead by example. Seasonal hires will get their cues from long-term regular employees.
    6. Automate loss prevention tracking. Make sure LP has a good tool to track over/shorts in a timely manner. This will help them stop issues before they become problems.

 

Seasonal associates provide the support you’ll need to handle the extra traffic and business coming your way. Make sure they’re your biggest asset this holiday season, not your biggest challenge.

 

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Image: iStock