Avoid Holiday Havoc When Managing a Seasonal Workforce

November 12, 2018 By Julie Kramer - Leave a comment

seasonal rush700,000 seasonal employees—that’s how many will be needed this holiday hiring season, according to job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. If you’re in retail or a related field, have you hired your share of those seasonal workers yet? And if so, are they trained, onboarded, set up in your system and ready to go to work?

Hiring and managing a seasonal workforce is not for the faint of heart. Particularly this year, when—between the strong economy and historically low unemployment rate—skilled seasonal workers are in huge demand throughout the retail, e-commerce, warehousing, and shipping sectors.  

After all, store hours are longer than ever. Ditto fulfillment centers. The shopping season is kicking off ever-earlier—Black Friday has morphed into Black November. And who’s meeting these heightened workforce needs? A wave of often untested seasonal workers. 

With as much as 30% of annual sales on the line, employers can’t take chances. Many are taking steps to ease the challenges of managing a high-volume seasonal workforce—often, by leveraging HR technology. Whether your company is engaged in the holiday hiring frenzy or your busy season won’t happen until summer, these steps can benefit your business, too.

Use Recruiting Software That Works for a Seasonal Workforce

If you’re trying to attract, screen and hire a high volume of job applicants efficiently, you can’t afford cumbersome recruiting software. At the very least, you need hiring and applicant tracking software that performs these time-saving tasks for you:

  • Automates the deployment of want ads to multiple job boards and social sites simultaneously.
  • Makes it easy to review, sort filter and tag resumes.
  • Facilitates easy background checks.
  • Seamlessly converts applicant data into new hire records.

In addition, your system should include a mobile-friendly job application. Eighty-six percent of job seekers begin their search on a smartphone —and more than 60% will abandon an online application if it takes too long. Can you afford to miss out on prime seasonal hiring opportunities because of your HR software?

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Don’t Skimp on Training and Onboarding Seasonal Employees  

Of course, you want to streamline your onboarding and training process to get seasonal workers up and running fast. However, the last thing you want is to put unprepared hires out on a hectic sales floor, which can result in memorably bad experiences for both customers and sales clerks.

Remember, in the eyes of your customers, seasonal employees are brand ambassadors just as much as the year-round staff. The more time your managers can spend training them, the better. One solution: if your HR software offers automated onboarding—and it should—leverage it. That way, you can get the paperwork and manuals out of the way quickly, so your people can focus on the very important business of selling.

Make It Easy for Managers to Master Scheduling

Employee scheduling gets trickier during the holidays, even for experienced managers. One way to minimize overstaffing, understaffing and other common scheduling mishaps is to arm your managers with powerful employee scheduling software.

Smart scheduling software will alert managers when they create inadvertent scheduling conflicts or unnecessarily schedule employees for overtime. It makes it easier to create a fair distribution of hours among the staff, resulting in fewer complaints. 

And because online scheduling is available to employees, too, it helps ensure that seasonal workers show up as planned. It eliminates misunderstanding about who is scheduled to work when. It can even require workers to confirm their schedules. 

Think Beyond the Season

Right now, you’re focused on getting through the immediate holiday season. However, this year’s new seasonal employees could be next year’s experienced seasonal workforce—assuming you give them a reason to return. Recognition, a chance to learn new skills, a lively workforce culture…beyond competitive pay, these all factors contribute to positive work experience. At the end of the season, make sure your managers document those workers they’d like to invite back again for next year’s holiday hiring initiative.

In addition, make sure your HR and payroll software is an asset, not a hindrance, to your annual seasonal hiring blitz. At EPAY Systems, our end-to-end HCM system makes it easy to hire, train onboard and schedule a large, temporary influx of seasonal workers. Also, our simple pricing model is based on an affordable per employee per month rate, so it scales automatically to the size of your workforce. Take two minutes to see how it works. Find out how we can help…before another holiday season catches up to you.


Filed Under: Human Capital Management, Workforce Management