Those of you who work in retail and delivery services will need to hire at least a few extra employees during the holiday season. Most have already started their late year hiring craze in September, while the rest of you are getting ready to suffer through that endless stream of applications rolling in and all the interviews that will follow.
Projections indicate that most U.S. businesses plan to hire about the same number of holiday staffers they did in 2014, while others like UPS plan to hire a few less than they did last year; banking on their ability to accommodate the millions of last-minute ecommerce orders they plan to get hit with while hiring approximately 5,000 less temporary staff than they did last year.
UPS has been hit hard over the last few years by the surge in online ordering. They’re also a great example of why businesses don’t want to get caught with their pants down during this, the most profitable (and stressful) time of year. In 2013, their failure to predict how many delivery requests they’d get left some 1-million packages lost in limbo on Christmas eve (see WSJ article about the snafu). I don’t have to tell you about the fallout that ensued — children without toys, mothers that didn’t receive a gift from their adult children (and the all-too-important card that accompanies it) — not good. Imagine how many soldiers fighting abroad trusted UPS to put a smile on their child’s face on Christmas, only to find nothing from mommy or daddy under the tree come the 25th of December?
Alas, the holiday season is a make-or-break time of year for many retail and service businesses. Don’t skimp on your staff or suffer the consequences!
Following are some steps you can use to make sure you’re putting the best holiday retail staffers you can in front of your customers this year.
Ditch the commissions.
If an employee sees nothing but dollar signs when they’re “educating” and otherwise helping your customers, they’ll do or say anything to crack the whip on that sale. Commission might seem like the best way to encourage the maximum amount of sales in the shortest possible time, but it rarely works out that way when it comes to modern retail sales. In a commission-based sales environment, only the strong survive while many of the “weak” sales employees actually provide a far greater level of actual service to the customer, which equals repeat business for you. An argument could be made too, that many of those sales made by the pushy and aggressive will turn into an Everest-like mountain of returns come Boxing Day and in the weeks following Santa’s favorite time of year. Essentially, the customer returns after the holidays, but they may never buy from you again after getting their money back on whatever items they were pressured into buying.
Bonuses are better.
Advertising a low-paying job with commission as the only incentive will only draw in the sharks, many of which you don’t really want to have scaring your customers away. It’ll also keep the truly customer-service-oriented from ever applying. Don’t forget to reward them for a hard days work with lots of holiday goodies such as spur of the moment pizza parties, potluck dinners, secret Santa parties, free movie tickets, in-store discounts, etc. Bonuses, especially those that come when a set high sales quota are met, make for a much happier and cohesive staff focused on a common goal rather than selfish pursuits. Encourage good service like educating the customer, answering all their questions and informing them of all their options. Big sales will follow if you’re doing it right.
Pay more than a fair wage.
Susan Adams from Forbes says that salaries are expected to rise for temporary staff by as much as $3.00/hour this year over last (source). If you want to get the best quality staffers, you need to make sure you’re competitive. Once all the good jobs have been taken, only the riff-raff and other unemployables remain. Keep in mind that we’re not currently in a recession, with the National unemployment rate at a five-year low of just 5.1 percent. Some, like Bismark, South Dakota boast an almost unbelievable low of just 2.8 percent. On average, employers are expected to hike salaries by as much as $2.50/hour this year over last.
Do you have any advice to share for employers regarding attracting the best staff possible this holiday season? Give us your thoughts down in the comments and don’t forget to share.