‘Tis the season to be hiring
Act now to get the holiday staffing you need
Remember 2019? It was nice, right? Adults went to work. Kids went to school. Social distancing wasn’t a thing. It was a simpler time for sure. And now, here we are in Q4 2020, as businesses are preparing for the busy holiday season and figuring out seasonal staffing needs.
Consumer spending is still below pre-pandemic levels, but it’s slowly improving. Some states are opening up more, while some are dialing it back a bit. Even though there’s still plenty of uncertainty about the future, employers are optimistic. In a recent Snagajob survey of small and midsize businesses, 75% plan to hire more staff for this year’s holiday crunch. Some began hiring in August and September. Many more will be jumping in this month.
What the big boys are up to
Large companies have announced major holiday hiring initiatives and are already adding workers to their payrolls. COVID-19 has changed how people behave. Interestingly, these changes have created new work opportunities. Many businesses now need more security personnel to monitor social distancing and mask-wearing. Instacart personal shoppers are stalking grocery store aisles across the nation. And cleaning crews are busy deep-cleaning spaces more frequently. The greatest change, though, has happened in the online commerce space. Consumer demand has driven a labor demand for customer service agents, package handlers, fulfilment center workers and drivers. Amazon and UPS are each planning to hire 100,000 holiday workers.
According to the National Retail Federation, retailers will also be bringing on seasonal help—mostly in their distribution/fulfillment centers, but also some in-store. Companies including Michaels, Walmart, Dollar Tree, 1-800-Flowers and the Gap are hiring.
Jobs need people
Last year, the US unemployment rate was very low (around 3.5%). Fewer people were looking for work, so it was a tight labor market. This year, post-pandemic, we’re experiencing an unemployment rate that’s much higher. Currently, it’s exceeding 8%. With so many people out of work, you’d expect us to be in a loose labor market, but that’s not the case. A recent weekly Snagajob hiring report noted that part-time job searches on Google are down 34% since early March. With an estimated 75% of workers receiving enhanced unemployment benefits, fewer people seem to be job hunting. Another factor which could be driving this search decline may be the closure of schools and daycare facilities. People who otherwise would be in the market for a job need to stay home with children. In Q4, with lots of new jobs being created and potentially fewer job seekers, competition to fill roles could be fierce. So it’s super important for small and medium businesses to be in seasonal recruiting and hiring mode now.
Hourly workers want seasonal work
While Google searches may be trending downward, there are hourly workers who are actively seeking seasonal jobs. Hourly workers who don’t qualify for unemployment benefits may be particularly interested. Online job boards, in-store advertising and word of mouth are great ways to reach them. Benefits that attract them include flexible schedules (it’s the holidays and workers want to take part in them, too), discounts on products and services, potential for permanent hire, higher pay rate and shift meals.
Recruiting and staffing considerations for your business
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, think about how you can appeal to job seekers. What makes you an employer of choice? Could you offer signing bonuses? Could you pay workers weekly rather than biweekly? If you’re an independent mom-and-pop business, could your small, local, like-a-family character be a differentiator for attracting talent?
- Make your vetting and hiring process as quick as possible. Be responsive. Seasonal workers in demand won’t wait around for long.
- Treat hiring for the holidays as an opportunity to fill a full-time position. If you know you’ll need to add to your team in the near future, try to find those qualified candidates now.
- Make sure you have robust COVID-19 safety protocols in place to protect your workers. Staffing up could put more people in closer quarters. Are there workarounds to avoid this?
- Not hiring additional staff for the holidays could put extra stress on your team (which may already be a skeleton crew) and you lose workers to burnout.
- Anticipate “the-new-pandemic-normal” staffing needs you may require. Will you need extra workers to handle an increase in curbside pick-up? Will you be extending hours to make up for fewer customers allowed in the building at a time? Will it require people for extra shifts?
There’s a lot of great, hard-working talent out there. Take advantage of it. Hopefully you'll be celebrating a successful holiday season as you kick 2020 out the door.
About the AuthorMore Content by Tom Quinn