A Non-Traditional Approach to Holiday Hiring

The labor shortage continues to persist to the dismay of employers everywhere. Hourly workers in the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries have gained the upper hand as the job-market scale continues to tip in their favor. With more job openings than applicants and the holiday season fast approaching, companies are scrambling to find hourly employees to work the holiday rush. 

To avoid being short-handed once November and December roll around, some businesses have already started preemptively striking back in the form of benefits, bonuses, and higher pay. Supermarket chain Aldi has raised its hourly wages for open store and warehouse roles to $15 and $19, respectively, in the hopes of enticing 20,000 job-seekers this holiday season. 

So is the only answer to hourly hiring for the holidays to offer workers more money? Partially, but not exactly. 

The reason businesses are offering employee incentives is because what worked before to get seasonal employees (and employees, overall) isn’t working now. Therefore, your traditional approach to hourly hiring for the holidays must change, as well. It’s critical to adopt an approach that broadens your talent pool, makes the hiring process less complicated, and leads with honesty. 

Looking to Untapped Talent Pools to Fill Roles 

To widen the search for applicants, you might consider re-engaging laid-off former employees. Last year, 2.4 million retail workers were relieved of their duties due to the pandemic-induced economic downturn. These same former employees may be integral to your company making it through the upcoming holiday season.

Asking someone to return to their previous position, especially given the circumstances that led to their departure, is no easy task, but it is possible with the right approach. 

Be sure to emphasize a fresh start for both parties to quell any lingering resentment or animosity. Similarly, trust is another factor to reestablish when reaching out to former employees. Laid-off workers lost their jobs when they needed them the most in 2020, which sowed the seeds for distrust. Be forthright with these individuals regarding rehiring expectations, while also listening to their valid concerns to rebuild trust. 

Also consider engaging the older working population. A good number of older workers are looking for gig work that won’t affect their Social Security, making them perfect candidates for hourly holiday work. Unfortunately, they may not be easy to bring back to the workforce amidst the pandemic. As a high-risk group for Covid-19, many might be reluctant to work in roles that bring them into contact with lots of people. To encourage their return for holiday shifts, you will need to take precautions, such as instituting mask mandates and enforcing social-distancing rules. 

Simplify the Holiday Hiring Process

As companies and HR managers frantically seek workers to fill positions ahead of the busiest shopping time of the year, they may not realize that their current hourly hiring practices have hindered their success with prospects. Hiring seasonal employees should not be a drawn-out process with complex applications, mainly because it is a temporary position. Asking unnecessary questions and requiring resumes, logins, and passwords for an application will only discourage potential workers from completing it.

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By simplifying and shortening the application process, your candidate conversion rates could increase up to 365%. To do this, bypass resume requirements and only ask relevant questions, such as an applicant’s availability, willingness to work early/late or overnight, and capability to work in a fast-paced, often stressful environment. 

The hourly hiring process for holiday workers should be easy, intuitive, and quick. The quicker you hire a worker, the quicker you can train and prepare them for the onslaught of holiday shoppers. 

Honesty Is the Best Hiring Policy

Because businesses are desperately looking for workers to tackle the holidays, they can be tempted to promise applicants things that aren’t true or omit certain aspects of the role. After all, telling a potential hire that some heavy lifting is required for a job is much different from the reality of them lifting 50 pounds of packages every hour, on the hour. Don’t do this. Always lead with honesty. 

Be upfront about what applicants can anticipate from working the holiday season for your company. If the position requires working overnight or navigating chaotic customer interactions, let the applicant know. If they decide it’s not for them, their time and your time won’t be wasted. Provide a realistic view of the job to set expectations from the beginning. 

In addition, pepper in excitement for your company and its culture, but not to the point of over-exaggeration or outright lying. You can do this by sharing testimonials from current employees on what it’s like to work at your business. Honesty will set the stage for a worthwhile holiday candidate pipeline. 

As the holidays near, it’s easy to get caught up in traditions. But avoid getting caught up in the way you traditionally hire. Instead, use a non-traditional hiring approach by reaching out to former employees and older workers, scaling down and simplifying the hiring process, and keeping honesty at the forefront of conversations with candidates. By doing so, you’ll gain more hourly workers and be equipped to face the holiday season head-on.

Alexandra Berger is vice president of product sales at AMS, where she is a leader in the Hourly division, a conversational hiring experience platform that makes high-volume hiring easier for everyone. She works with organizations of all sizes to identify strategic solutions that enable them to engage and compete for talent in new ways. Prior to her current role, Berger spent six years at Korn Ferry, where she was responsible for North America Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) development. Given her unique ability to unite technology and talent acquisition, she has been able to partner with organizations on executing enterprise-wide hiring initiatives that deliver business impact on a regional and global scale.

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