How to Gain and Retain Great Seasonal Workers
How to Gain and Retain Great Seasonal Workers.
Most retailers need extra staff over Christmas, and staffing for the busiest period in the retail calendar can be a challenge, more so than ever in 2022.
During festive shopping season, your two most important factors are going to be stock and staff, to ensure you can capitalise.
Great staff are an major advantage to your business. Well trained staff with a can-do attitude are your top assets when it comes to maximising each sale. More importantly, they also have a huge influence on your customer’s experience, and their likelihood of recommending or returning to your business.
Ideally, you would like your seasonal staff to be as competent as your permanent staff. But how do you go about gaining – and retaining – the best seasonal employees? We offer some tried and tested elements to create your H.R. strategy.
As an employer, of course you want the most capable and flexible staff for your business. However, in the current employee-driven climate, if you want the best staff you’ll need to be the most attractive employer.
Workers seeking employment are in a strong position as so many retailers are hiring. Put yourself in their shoes; they will look for the most attractive financial packages and the best working conditions.
Check out what your competitors are offering. Similar businesses are competing for the same staff, so make sure you stand out as the company that offers the best rates and benefits if you want the best people. If you can’t stretch the budget to offer an unbeatable hourly rate, find other attractive perks to offer, and work with the tools you have available. Examples might include:
- Training and education
- Free meals
- Membership to a local facility
- Accrued paid leave
- Subsidised child care
Different benefits may be enticing to different candidates, so think outside the box. Your perfect candidate might need a pet friendly workplace, or to be able to finish at 2pm every Friday, guaranteed. Maybe you can offer just what they need. Look around your business and your locality to see what unique recruitment tools you already have to hand, or on your doorstep.
Plan ahead and utilise every resource available to you.
Firstly, check your year on year reports. Staffing requirements shouldn’t vary too much each year, unless your business has changed or expanded. You can learn a lot about your peak trading times from your previous year’s trading.
Get your recruitment strategy in place months ahead of time, and write down your plan to fill your staff quota. This will save you time next year, and allow you to build on and improve your recruitment process based on what works and what doesn’t.
Next, look to your list of previous Christmas hires. If they worked out well, start by inviting them back.
Then, you can employ a wider recruitment strategy. It’s a common mistake to assume that all seasonal workers will be students. A much wider demographic regularly look to supplement their income without committing to a permanent position. So, don’t just focus on colleges, advertise on your website, recruitment sites and local news sites. Get the word out on social media and post in local job centres. Extend your reach as far as possible. The more applications you get, the more likely you are to find the right candidates.
Take the pressure off your staff
Pre-empt as much as possible to reduce stress and pressure on your staff at Christmas. Have a check list to hand and include the following ideas:
Check your stock and daily supplies, what do you already have in your stock room, and what do you never have enough of? Order well in advance and stay in touch with your suppliers to make sure your deliveries will be on time. One of the greatest pressures in retail over Christmas comes from the supply chain, so remove as much of that stress as possible from your staff by being well prepared, and keep them in the loop about everything that’s happening, from sales performance to price changes, and low stock items.
Ensure everything is in good working order. Go through your entire store checking shelving, signage, equipment, and utilities to make sure it’s all serviceable. If anything has been unreliable, or left on the long finger to repair, now is the time to get it seen to. You’ll want things running as smoothly as possible during the busy period.
Set up your technology to automate as many tasks as possible for you. For example, your electronic shelf labels will roll out price updates across your entire store and website at the touch of a button, which is handy over the festive season where promotions and prices can change frequently. Set your key reports to automatically generate at the same time each time day. Set up automatic reordering for popular items when stock runs low.
Have a backup plan. What will happen if someone is sick, a pipe leaks, or something breaks down? You can’t predict everything, but prepare a list of possible eventualities, and have emergency phone numbers and a plan B ready. Plan B might not be ideal, but it will certainly help your staff in setting an immediate plan of action should something go awry.
Be a great employer
The rule here is the simple old adage; treat staff as you would like to be treated. It’s easy to forget to be personable when you are busy, but creating a pleasant work environment is key to staff retention.
Discuss expectations at the time of interview and be honest. If there may be antisocial hours or possible overtime, this should be should be discussed before the job is offered. Talk about remuneration for anything outside of normal hours, too. Offer minimum guaranteed hours if your schedule is a flexible one. People need to be assured of their minimum income.
Train each staff member properly. We can’t stress this enough! Don’t throw them in at the deep end because you’re busy. Take the time to see they are trained properly and not only will they feel more confident in their role, but you’ll also reduce potential costly errors.
Communicate with your team. Keep them involved and engaged with what’s happening in the business, and encourage employees to share their ideas.
Not only does this help increase job satisfaction, but those on the front line can often see things you might miss. Take this opportunity to create better strategies.
Get your staff involved when creating rostered hours. As far as possible, try to offer a fixed rota and stick with it. Everybody deserves to be able to plan their own time outside of work and maintain a healthy work/life balance. Keep changes to a minimum and when you must make changes, involve your staff in the process and give as much notice as possible.
Make sure everyone gets adequate tea breaks and lunch breaks. These can get forgotten during busy periods, but are even more important for employee wellbeing during stressful times.
Allow your employees to swap shifts independently. They should inform you of any changes, but ultimately it’s easier for everyone if they have the freedom to make last minute changes amongst themselves.
Know the value of your team
Another old saying that’s worth remembering: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It’s important to show your appreciation, and compliment your staff when they do something well. Job satisfaction is rarely all about the money, and a small kindness can be remembered for a long time.
Retaining competent staff saves you recruiting and training costs, and don’t forget the hidden costs. For example, new starters usually work at a slower pace, and may make errors at the till. Lack of experience can also lead to a decline in service standards and be detrimental to your company reputation.
Good employers know the value of good staff, and vice versa. Happy, engaged staff are more productive and more loyal. They’re also more likely to see through the full season, and may even choose to return to you in the future.
At the close of season, or if a staff member should leave during the season, arrange an exit interview with them. It doesn’t have to take long, but through this process you may learn how to entice them back next year (if they were a good fit for your business). You can also gain feedback to find areas of improvement, both within your business and as an employer.
How to Gain and Retain Great Seasonal Workers.
Who are we?
We are dedicated to providing your store with the most up to date & reliable point-of-sale hardware and software management tools to help you manage your business effectively.
About the author:
Susan McGuire is originally from London, United Kingdom, and has now lived in Galway, Ireland, for 15 years. She has been with Retail Solutions for almost 7 of those, and during that time has enjoyed various roles within the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing. You can follow her on LinkedIn!