Holiday Hire Now, Permanent Employee in 2013: Who Will Make the Cut?

By Jason Hamilton,

Holiday hiring is in full swing, with retailers such as Kohl’s, Amazon, Toys “R” Us and Macy’s among the many hiring more seasonal workers than they did last year. But as these seasonal workers come on board and help with stocking the shelves and ringing out customers, it’s not too early for retailers to begin evaluating their performances to help make the decision about which employees should be invited to stay on permanently after the season.

According to several holiday hiring surveys this season, there’s an increase in the number of retailers that intend to keep holiday hires after the season. A survey of 14 major U.S. retailers, sponsor by global management consultancy Hay Group, showed that “with renewed confidence and a bullish outlook for 2013, retailers want to retain more workers beyond the holiday season.” Added to that, the annual Snagajob holiday hiring forecast – a survey of more than 1,000 hourly hiring managers responsible for seasonal hiring commissioned by the hourly employment network – found that managers plan to keep 50% of seasonal hires on staff after the holidays. Yes, you read that correctly – half of seasonal employees could become regular employees in 2013.

From a retailer’s perspective, this is a fantastic opportunity to give employees a test run and significantly increase the long-term quality of your permanent staff. Seasonal employees hired in October will have nearly a three-month, on-the-job interview to help managers decide if they are permanent-employee material. For both parties, what could be better than real-life experience in your own store’s environment to determine a positive fit?

To take advantage of this opportunity, here are some employer tips to help evaluate seasonal hires for long-term positions:

Communicate: Realistically, not all of your seasonal hires have the flexibility and desire to stay on as permanent employees. Once a seasonal employee has been with you for at least a month and store managers have seen promise and potential in his/her ability, managers should begin a conversation about a seasonal employee’s desire to continue working. This simple conversation can happen as an employee begins a shift and is given his or her marching orders. “Your goals for today are X, Y and Z. Also, I don’t need you to give me an answer right now, but I’m wondering what your plans are after the holidays. Would you have any interest in working here on a more permanent basis? There will be some opportunity for that, and I’m trying to gauge the interest and availability of our top performers.”

Who would I clone?: Sometimes, managers don’t have a specific laundry list of skills in mind when evaluating potential permanent hires – it’s the entire package that matters. Managers faced with this problem should take a look at seasonal employees and ask themselves this hypothetical: “If I could clone, Jon/Jane to have five more of him/her working for me, would I? The cloning question helps to focus managers when it’s hard to exactly pinpoint the qualities that are making a hire stand out positively.
Numbers tell the story, too: While personality and eagerness to get a job done can shine through with interaction with customers and fellow employees, managers also should go beyond casual observations to determine who might be the best permanent employee. Examine daily and weekly sales goals met among your seasonal employees. Who has risen to the top multiple times? From a schedule perspective, who has clocked in on time, and also been available for extra shifts, if asked? And because bottom-line labor expenses do matter, if your seasonal employees have been paid at different levels, is someone a “better buy” than another seasonal hire when their performances are compared?
While retailers and the managers and assistant managers who run stores at the day-to-day levels are understandably concerned about sales during the all-important fourth-quarter, do take some time from counting daily sales figures and determining how to increase the next day’s sales to take a longer view. If managers spend just a bit of time evaluating their seasonal hires and their potential ability to be outstanding permanent employees, your collective sales sheet for 2013 could spike higher.

Jason Hamilton is vice president of marketing for Snagajob, the largest hourly employment network for job seekers and employers and the only company to provide both sourcing and talent management solutions to the hourly industry. Contact him at

More Web Exclusives/Guest Commentaries

Login or Register to post a comment.