Auburn, Nov. 15, 2002---Finding dependable
temporary employees to help during November and December often
presents a huge challenge for retailers. Transient employees who
quit after only a week or two or who have questionable backgrounds
are real headaches for store managers at holiday crunch time. The
holiday season is the busiest time of the year for stores' customers
who want fast, courteous, knowledgeable assistance.
The wrong type of temporary help can be costly to
the bottom line and the store's reputation, says Dr. Jacquelyn
Robinson, a workforce development specialist with the Alabama
Cooperative Extension System.
"Although seasonal employees may be hired to
work only a few weeks, they represent the company to customers.
Likewise, the company is as equally responsible for the behavior of
its temporary employees as it is its veteran workers," Robinson
Hiring temporary workers at the last minute can
drastically increase overhead expenses. Having to hire a second or
third time can cost upwards to $5,000, not to mention hiring someone
whom may steal merchandise or damage customer relationships.
Taking the time to hire qualified temporary workers
can save literally thousands of dollars.
Robinson offers employers the following suggestions
to help ensure the individuals they hire to help during the holiday
shopping season are dependable, capable and trustworthy.
Begin your search for holiday help early.
Waiting until mid-November to recruit temporary workers means
many of the better workers are already employed.
Determine the specific jobs temporary employees
will be doing, how many will be needed, and the duration of the
temporary job. Based on last year's holiday season, establish
which operations really need extra people and define the exact
type(s) of jobs they are doing. Develop a recruitment campaign
based on actual job descriptions.
Use the same process for hiring temporary
employees that you do for career workers. Don't skip background
checks on any individual considered for employment. Conduct a
stringent interview process to make sure the temporary employees
are a good fit with the store's expectations and the regular
Rely on the familiar. Contact good temporary
workers from previous years. They might like to work again this
year or could recommend some reliable replacements.
Train, train, train. Conduct a thorough
orientation for the temporary employees. Pay them to begin
training early. Policies and procedures taken for granted by
regular workers may be misunderstood by new hires. Time taken up
front explaining the details of the operation will be well
spent. It is better to find out during training that someone
cannot do the job.
Be flexible. Keep in mind that many seasonal
employees are high school and college students or individuals
who are working part time to earn extra money. Instead of hiring
full-time people for short periods, consider hiring several to
work more abbreviated schedules to accommodate existing
Finding the right people is only half the challenge
when hiring seasonal help, says Robinson. The other half is keeping
them employed until the season is over.
After spending time and money to recruit early,
carefully screening applicants and then hiring temporary employees
for the holiday shopping season, store managers are prudent to find
ways to keep the temporary employees until the holiday rush is over.
"Make it worth the employees' effort to stay
the course," advises Robinson.
"Pay competitive wages, give a bonus for sales
or for staying until the end of the season, or offer temporary
employees an employee's discount on goods they buy. Each of these
will serve as incentives to the temporary employee."
Make starting to work an event for temporary
employees. Announce their arrival and introduce new employees to
current staff. If possible, use a buddy system so new hires have
someone non-threatening to talk to if they have questions or
Treat new workers with respect, giving them stable
working conditions and regular hours. Temporary seasonal employees
have a right to know when and where they will be working. Floating
positions that fill in wherever needed should be reserved for
veteran workers who better understand the entire operation.
The money and time spent in matching the right
people to the right job will pay dividends in the long run, Robinson
The development and retention of a high performance
workforce requires a substantial commitment over time. The Alabama
Cooperative Extension System assists employers and communities with
designing customized workforce development programs and initiatives
to meet local training needs. There is no or little cost for these
For more information about scheduling a workshop,
contact Dr. Jacquelyn Robinson at (334) 844-5353, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
(Source: Dr. Jacquelyn Robinson, Extension workforce
development specialist 334-844-5353.)
in MS Word