The Challenge for Retailers – Seasonal Staffing
Retailers face a unique set of challenges in the holiday season, not least of which is a reliable pipeline of seasonal staff. Experienced recruiters understand that while these candidates may be temporary, they still represent their brand at what is often the busiest time of the year in retail. Amidst the frenzied shoppers, the long lines, and the general tensions of the season, retailers want top-notch staff assisting their customers, maintaining stocked shelves, and managing product display. The retail challenge continues to be the mobilization of quality talent to fill this short-term seasonal niche.
The Challenge for HR Professionals
HR departments are primarily established to support their quota of full-time employees and the task of onboarding additional seasonal candidates can be overwhelming, particularly in an industry where turnover ranges from 30 – 200% (1). HR professionals overseeing hiring decisions across multiple states face additional compliance issues: child labor laws as well as wage and hour regulations vary from state to state. Employee classification is an ongoing concern, and whether candidates qualify as full-time versus part-time, employee versus contractor or nonexempt versus exempt. This issue is further complicated by the possible minimum wage hike, state-specific overtime regulations and health care reform. While seasonal staffing provides the necessary corporate flexibility to meet fluctuating demand, it also involves a tremendous additional administrative burden to an already hard-working HR team.
Most of the seasonal workforce-to-hire will comprise hourly or part-time labor, and finding quality talent willing to work these hours within a short period of time can be inordinately difficult. In fact, 67% of retail organizations are struggling to fill roles either due to a talent shortage or increased marketplace competition (2). When you consider, in addition, complex customer expectations in the busiest retail season, a shortened find-to-hire interval, and the lack of a traditional recruitment function, seasonal talent acquisition can place a significant strain on even the most robust HR department.
Forming Professional Partnerships to Facilitate Seasonal Success
This demand for qualified candidates in a tight labor market and the existing challenges faced by HR professionals, lead many organizations to consider partnerships with staffing agencies who have deep reservoirs of experienced talent and the readiness to shoulder the administrative burden associated with seasonal hire.
For many organizations the seasonal ramp-up represents a window of time where maximizing profitability is critical for sustaining operations throughout the rest of the fiscal year. A strong staffing partner can provide experienced staff who are able to hit the ground running, a critical requirement in fast-paced seasonal operations; providers with experience staffing the retail sector can further select candidates who ‘live’ the retail brand, and ‘feel’ the culture, offering a strong value proposition to the client’s customer base.
The rapidity of change seems to be the one global constant today; in order to thrive and grow, organizations must be able to adapt quickly to changing technology and satisfy new demands for products and services. Seasonal upswings in the retail sector ideally require an experienced workforce, skilled and prepared to move into new roles quickly. When long-term profitability depends upon a seamless seasonal operation, utilizing the experienced candidate pool of retail-specific staffing providers is frequently found to be well worth the investment.
Written By: J Royal