Learning & Development

Onboarding Seasonal Workers a Top Factor in Determining Business Success

What a holiday season it was! It seems that retailers have a lot to cheer about in the new year, despite the shorter shopping window in 2019. U.S. retail sales increased nearly 4%, with online sales growing 18.8% compared with 2018.


Source: Roobcio / Shutterstock

The spike in sales meant that retailers needed to onboard even more temporary, seasonal employees to serve customers and fulfill orders than ever before. In fact, the National Retail Federation expected retailers to hire up to 590,000 temporary employees in 2019, compared with 554,000 in 2018.

To plan for seasonal hiring, companies invest significant time and money to prepare, starting as early as Q1 for the year’s holiday season. Unfortunately, most don’t have the right processes and technology in place to accommodate all those new employees. The holidays are the most stressful time of the year for hiring new staff, with summer a distant second.

We recently conducted a survey of seasonal employees (or newly hired) and HR professionals in the United States to dig deeper into the challenges both face during the hiring process for seasonal employees. Spoiler alert: There’s a lot of frustration with paperwork and mobile devices (or, rather, a lack thereof).

Manual Processes re the Grinch of Seasonal Hiring

The biggest hurdles for seasonal hiring are the physical paperwork and the manual processes that are associated with it. Those processes are simply too slow and take too much time to approve, sign, and approve, which wastes everyone’s valuable time and effort.

According to the survey, handling the paperwork associated with new hires is a struggle for most HR staff (72%). In fact, it’s taken nearly a third of companies 1+ days to onboard a seasonal worker, and nearly a third of HR staff reported that it takes over an hour per hire to input paperwork into their online systems.

New hires are feeling the same heat. Nearly a quarter (20%) of seasonal employees spend almost 1 hour filling out paperwork when they’re hired. Less than half of those employees (49%) believe the process is efficient.

Digital Is the Way Forward

It’s clear that hiring companies need to figure out two things well before (at least 6 months before) the busy holiday retail season: how to accelerate and scale the hiring process and how to deliver an exceptional experience for HR staff and potential hires alike. The key for both is digital—more specifically, mobile.

Nearly all respondents (86%) said that moving from paper-based processes to online signatures would improve the onboarding process for seasonal work. Over half of respondents (66%) who didn’t use mobile to complete their new hire paperwork want to, while those who already use mobile devices to onboard liked the process (83%). Companies that quickly and easily onboard their employees drive early satisfaction among employees and productivity.

If John Hancock Were Around, He’d Be Using Digital Signatures

You’d think that the old days of using a yellow Sharpie, Post-it® notes, or plastic tabs to indicate what you need to fill out and sign are gone. As you can see, however, there’s still a big opportunity to use mobile technologies to hire temporary employees during the holidays, specifically with e-signatures.

It’s a simple yet powerful capability that can not only save both HR staff and applicants tons of time and headaches but also create a strong audit trail for legal and regulatory purposes—all without wasting reams of paper along the way.

In fact, according to the Forrester Total Economic Indicator research commissioned by Adobe, reducing the use of paper documents results in cost savings of $6 per transaction. Also, the average cycle time for documents decreases from approximately 7 days to 2 hours.

Many of the holiday gifts we give and get are modern and advanced. The way we work should be the same way. It’s stressful enough for retailers to hire new, temporary employees, so the last thing they and applicants should worry about is tons of paperwork.

With retail sales increasing year after year, retailers will need all the help they can get. The time is now to start adopting mobile technologies and e-signatures for hiring seasonal employees. There are only 300 or so days left until the next holiday season!

Craig Peasley, Director for Marketing at Adobe Document Cloud, leads product marketing for digital commerce, overseeing go-to-market strategies and execution for the core platform, and has been at Magento Commerce for 4 years. With more than 20 years of marketing experience, Peasley has launched many new industry-disrupting products and business lines across small business-to-enterprise markets for leading companies like Yahoo!, Shutterfly, Safeway, and Mattel.