Ready or not, we’re less than two months away from Black Friday, which means many businesses (particularly our friends in the retail and shipping industries) will begin ramping up to meet increased holiday demand. Everyone’s checklist should include an evaluation of whether they’ll need to hire temporary, part-time staff to help fill the gaps that full-time teams won’t be able to meet. This year’s staffing needs are looking to be just as big as last year; for example, UPS is already planning to add about 95,000 package handlers and drivers this season.
Whether you’re looking to meet upcoming holiday demand or find some holiday help to assist with an influx of new projects, here are a few tips you should keep in mind when hiring and onboarding a part-time seasonal worker.
•Post your job in the right places – The days of relying solely on help signs in the front window are long gone. While you might grab the attention of one of your customers who already knows your business, you’ll be severely limiting the reach of your recruiting efforts if you don’t leverage online channels. Once you have your job description ready to go, take a look at the online job boards where you can post your open position. Sites like CTjobs.com or Monster can help you attract the job seekers in Connecticut that might live one town over or don’t walk by your business on a daily basis. Expanding beyond your front window and the classified section of the local newspaper can help you find just the seasonal worker you’re looking for.
•Avoid “closet full-timers” – Once you have your potential hire’s resume in hand and their interview scheduled, you should pay close attention to their employment history. When hiring a part-time temp, you run the risk of bringing on “closet full-timers,” which are job seekers who interview for part-time jobs when they’re really looking for a full-time job. If they leave when the next full-time offer comes up, then you’ll have lost the time and resources you put into training and onboarding them. Worse, you might be left with a gap to fill and no time to bring someone else up to speed before the holiday rush. To make sure you have the right person lined up, keep a close eye on their employment history and ask the right questions during the interview. If they have a history of full-time employment, listen to hear if they mention a change in their personal life that required them to shift to part-time work. Are they caring for a family member? Perhaps they’ve decided to go back to school full-time and need a temporary job to pay tuition? Perhaps they’re looking for a temporary job during their school break? Situations such as these will explain why they need to stick with part-time employment while helping you rest assured that you won’t lose them to the next full-time offer that comes their way.
•Offer a competitive wage – As you’re deciding what to offer your new hire, remember that part-time temps won’t be as much of a burden on your bottom line when it comes to benefits. They likely won’t be around long enough to garner the same level of benefits that you offer full-time staff, so there’s no need to balk at paying a higher hourly wage to attract the higher caliber of talent you need to meet demand this holiday season. Also, holiday rush can open the door for working overtime. The mandates for calculating overtime pay are a little more complex in Connecticut than other states, so be sure you consult your legal advisor and keep your business compliant with the law. As we said a couple of weeks ago in our outline of the new overtime rule changes, what you don’t know about compensation regulations will end up costing you in the long run.
•Schedule the appropriate time for onboarding – In addition to the recruitment and interview process, keep in mind all the time you’ll need to prep your new holiday staff. If they’re leaving an old job, make sure to give them time to submit their required notice. Once they’re ready to work for you, don’t neglect to put them through your full training and onboarding program. When you’re bringing on a temp, it might be tempting to skimp on training since they’ll only be working for a short time. However, if you’re in retail you won’t want your new team member’s first day on the job to be Black Friday. Give them the appropriate amount of time and training to ensure they will be successful. Another consideration when it comes to training is the availability of their schedule. More specifically, you should offer training to your new employee during the same time of day you expect them to work. Don’t expect a new hire lined up for a graveyard shift to be available for training between 9 and 5.
•Treat your temps like full-time employees… – While the help you bring in for the holidays may only be temporary additions to the team, it’s a good idea to have them go through the same onboarding process you would give to a full-time employee. Make sure they understand your vision, history and any company traditions so they feel like a part of the family. This is the best way to ensure your part-time temps offer the same level of service that your customers expect from your regular staff. As Inc. Magazine summarizes it: avoid treating a part-timer like a second-class employee.
•…but don’t forget they’re only working for a short time – If you hit the jackpot with your holiday help, sometimes it can be easy to forget that they’re only temporary employees. Make sure you only delegate tasks and responsibilities that can be accomplished by someone who will be with you for a limited amount of time and a limited number of hours per week. This includes assigning tasks that don’t require a lot of time to learn. If you’re in retail you may prefer that your temporary help stock shelves instead of running cash registers. This also means you’ll need to ensure all of your staff members are on the same page regarding what responsibilities should be delegated given their limited hours. Proactively communicate to your full-timers what should be expected of your new temporary help.
The holidays will be here before you know it, so don’t let your recruitment efforts for a part-time temp wait until the last minute. Give yourself time to recruit the right talent and train them to help without hindering your team. You’ll be ready when your customers come knocking on Black Friday!
Written by Jeff McDonough
Director of Human Resources, Union Savings Bank