Holiday Hiring Wish List: Three Best Practices
My family – and many other consumers – have already started planning for the holidays. With Deloitte projecting a 4% increase in holiday sales over last year's shopping season, it’s critical that you have the workforce in place to address this opportunity.
My first recommendation may sound counterintuitive: don’t hire for the holidays. You need to have a hiring philosophy with a longer term strategy. Certainly, based on your business, you may need short-term labor that doesn’t require a high level of skill or training. However, these employees are still essential to creating a positive customer experience; simply bringing in people to pack-and-ship isn’t going to support this objective.
The following is a “wish list” of best practices to make this a successful holiday season:
1. Invest in the seasonal employee experience
A seasonal employee needs to be fully embraced within your retail organization. As I’ve mentioned, improving the customer experience means improving the internal customer or employee experience. This starts right at the beginning with the job postings and descriptions. Leverage workforce management systems to get a clear view of coverage gaps by location, department, job, skill requirements, and day of week and time of day. This will allow you to provide specific and detailed hiring information so that applicants understand what is needed and can determine if they are a match.
Once onboarded, you need to ensure your seasonal employees are engaged. Use technology to improve communication and support work-life balance with dynamic scheduling and mobile access and interaction. Don’t forget your brand is created and reinforced by employees’ experience working there – whether three months or three years – and the impressions these employees share with their communities and networks significantly impacts brand equity.
2. Treat holiday hires to ongoing communication and insight
The holiday season brings about special promotions and power hours. Sometimes the hours of operation are dictated by mall ownership, in other cases you have the flexibility to set special hours. Keep employees and the workforce management systems up-to-date with this information. This enables the technology to do what it’s supposed to do – anticipate and plan for different volumes, cycles and workforce demands. It also eliminates the unpopular need for “Plan B” – call in shifts.
Focusing employees on store performance enables stores to efficiently hit their targets and goals. Leverage technology to help associates see how well they are covering the floor, serving customer demands, and managing the budgets. Whether a seasonal or long term employee, the result is a better prepared, more confident, and engaged workforce to serve holiday shoppers.
3. Get creative in finding the right fit and use technology to simplify the process
Hiring for the holiday season shouldn’t be done in desperation. Have a good understanding of your needs – right down to the schedules and skills – and solicit the help of your current employee base. If you’ve been treating your workforce right, they will be happy to refer friends or family for open positions. If you followed the previously noted best practices, you may also find success recruiting from your base of prior high-performing seasonal workers.
Partnering with local schools and universities can generate good will as well as good hires. Turn to your loyal customers – they know what they like about your brand and their experience and may enjoy the opportunity to be on the delivery side (especially if there are special discounts and other perks.) Also, remember that workforce management technology can be an ally in hiring seasonal and long-term employees by automating and simplifying the best practices on this wish list.
Don’t waste another minute in implementing your holiday hiring plan – it’s critical to delivering on your seasonal revenue targets.
John Orr is senior VP of retail at Ceridian, a human capital management technology company.
Will take this tips into consideration! thank you!
Sears responds to claims that it failed to pay toy vendor
A spat with a toy vendor could make for a difficult holiday shopping season for Sears Holdings.
Due to claims of financial difficulties, reports claim that toy manufacturer Jakks Pacific has halted sales of its Star Wars and Disney Princess toys, among other merchandise, to “a major U.S. customer," which was presumed by some to be Kmart, according to CNBC.
The department store chain denies rumors, adding that while “there are occasionally disputes over prices, allocations of product and other terms through the course of negotiations … We can tell you that we have had a longstanding relationship with Jakks,” CNBC said.
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Specialty outdoors retailer opens community-minded D.C. flagship
REI has opened its fifth flagship to date — and largest store on the East Coast — in an iconic building just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
The 51,000-sq.-ft. store, in the NOMA neighborhood of Washington, D.C., is designed to offer members of the outdoor community a place where they can meet and plan adventures — and shop for outdoor gear curated specifically for the region. It includes such features as a coffee shop, outdoor courtyard with tables and a fire pit, and a classroom for educational events.
“The flagship's design represents a whole new approach to how REI thinks about the customer experience, presenting the co-op, our services and experience at their best," said Rebecca Smith, general manager of REI's DC flagship. (REI is the nation’s largest consumer co-op, and operates 148 stores in 36 states.)
The retailer worked closely with its partners Douglas Development, CallisonRTKL and Davis Construction to honor the history of the retail space through smart design and construction. The store is in the building that was formally known as the Washington Coliseum and Uline Arena, and opened in 1941. Among other events, it was the site of one of the earliest U.S. concerts by The Beatles, in 1964. Memorabilia related to the Beatles and other events that took place in the building is located throughout the store.
"CallisonRTKL has had a long relationship with REI developing their next generation retail concepts, including their flagship in SoHo," said Alex Shapleigh, CallisonRTKL VP and the lead designer on the project. "We are honored to have partnered with them on their newest flagship store in one of Washington, D.C.'s most storied buildings."
The distinct features of the store include:
• A 1,052-sq.-ft. La Colombe café;
• An Adventure Station, offered in partnership with the National Park Service and REI outdoor experts, where REI can connect with its members with advice on where to go and how to best enjoy the outdoors;
• An outdoor courtyard at the store's core where visitors can gather includes a fireplace and views of the building's historic structural concrete arches;
• Bike, ski and snowboard shop services that will cater to the District's cycling and snow sports assembly and repair needs.
• A community space with a robust schedule of free and low-cost, in-store classes for cycling, paddling, fitness, hiking and camping, climbing, snow sports, photography and wilderness medicine;
• A collection of gear shops that blends into a commons area that creates a communal shopping experience.
The new DC store is REI’s fifth flagship, joining locations in Seattle, Denver, Bloomington, Minnesota, and the SoHo area of New York City.
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