Q&A, Recruiting

Holiday Hiring: Mistakes That Cost Retailers Thousands

Nearly all retailers across the country (96 percent) are planning to hire at least some workers for this year’s holiday shopping season, according to HR software provider UKG. Key findings of the survey also found that at least 2 in 5 retailers say their stores’ top staffing priorities when planning for seasonal spikes include keeping current staff engaged, happy, and satisfied (46%), and scheduling the right people in the right place at the right time (44%).

holiday hiring

While all these things are important, it’s just as important for HR professionals to hire the right people. CareerBuilder estimates that 74% of companies who make poor recruiting decisions lose an average of $14,900 per hire.

In this Q&A, Tiffany McGowen, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Paycom, shares insights about recruiting strategies for HR professionals, tips for providing positive onboarding experiences and more.

Which industries see the biggest increase in holiday hiring? Are there differences between winter and summer hiring surges?

TM: Typical brick-and-mortar retailers such as malls, outlet centers and toy stores, as well as e-commerce retailers typically increase seasonal hiring to account for an uptick in holiday shopping and extended opening hours. Additionally, travel and hospitality industries also experience a surge in their holiday hiring as many begin travelling during the holidays.

The candidate pool may differ between winter and summer hiring surges. Summer hiring surges may include more temporary workers without summer gigs, such as college students or educators on summer break. For winter hiring surges, more candidates are likely using seasonal positions to accommodate for increased holiday expenses. According to a September 2023 Pollfish survey commissioned by Paycom, over half of Americans increase their expenses by at least $500 during the holiday season.

What strategies do you recommend for HR professionals dealing with the dynamic and fluctuating nature of part-time recruiting, particularly around the holiday shopping season?

TM: Along with seasonal hiring comes a large influx of candidates. Managing paper applications, scheduling interviews, and entering applicant information manually can be nearly impossible to keep up with, especially during irregular hiring periods. Using the right applicant tracking software provides one location for all candidate information and creates a seamless applicant experience during the recruitment process. It can also provide powerful reporting and analytics to identify which career sites or recruiting materials are the biggest drivers for qualified applicants, helping recruiters properly allocate resources moving forward.

What are the keys to providing positive onboarding experiences for temporary, part-time workers once they are hired?

TM: First impressions matter. The key to a positive onboarding experience is making employees feel welcomed, engaged, and connected on their first day. HR professionals should prepare efficient but effective training and onboarding to help seasonal hires feel ready to jump into their role quickly. With the right HCM software, new hires can use self-service onboarding to enter their personal data before their first day. This frees up time for HR professionals and new hires to focus on meaningful interactions and on-the-job training.

What are the most important tools for overcoming dynamic and competitive hiring sprees?

Companies must consider why most employees seek seasonal positions. According to a September 2023 Pollfish survey commissioned by Paycom, 3 in 4 Americans have to make accommodations to afford increased holiday expenses, including side hustles, seasonal jobs, credit card debt, payday loans and saving throughout the year. To reach the right seasonal candidates, make sure your company offers benefits like competitive pay, overtime opportunities and easy-to-use tech. HR technology such as payroll cards and daily pay opportunities are attractive for seasonal hires who rely on flexible methods to receive their wages. Also, equip your recruiting team with the best technology possible to reach and interact with candidates. For instance, having the right all-in-one HR technology can streamline recruitment processes, enhance candidate experiences and ensure seamless payroll management. Leveraging cutting-edge tools positions organizations to attract, onboard and retain top talent efficiently in the competitive hiring landscape, particularly during peak hiring seasons.

How would you measure success in seasonal recruitment efforts?

There are several metrics that can determine success based on the unique challenges and goals of a specific job, but here are a few that apply across industries. First, consider supply and demand. If you have enough employees to meet workplace demands and they are working an appropriate number of hours, you can assume a successful recruitment season. It’s also important to consider employee sentiment. Online employee engagement survey software can confidentially gather data about the employee experience, like onboarding, workplace culture and likelihood to return next season. These metrics can indicate successful tactics or highlight areas to grow next year. Seasonal employee retention is also a telltale sign of a successful seasonal working experience. If an employer delivers a successful seasonal working experience, people will want to come back to work next season. This will also lower next year’s talent acquisition costs.

Are there emerging trends or factors influencing seasonal hiring that HR professionals in specific industries should be aware of as they plan for 2024?

TM: Accurate paychecks will continue to be more important than ever. A 2022 poll conducted by Morning Consult for Paycom found 58% of people would have difficulty paying bills and making purchases if just $100 were missing from their paychecks. Employers have an obligation to ensure wages are fair and delivered on time to match the higher cost of living, especially around the holiday season. Automated payroll processing with employee-driven approvals can help employees ensure their pay is correct before it is processed, helping make sure paychecks and overtime hours are accurate.

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