3 Things to Remember When Managing Seasonal Staff

By Brian Harris

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It’s a time of year when the retail world kicks into high gear. More registers are open, lines are longer, and more customers need assistance. As a result, more labor is hired around the holidays.

This year, the number of hires by companies has risen. According to a recent survey, 67% of retailers said they are hiring more workers than last year. In addition, 83% of the seasonal hires will be located in brick-and-mortar stores to accommodate the uptick in customer demand.

That’s good news for the industry. The other good news is that employers are hiring at a higher wage. Wal-Mart started the trend earlier this year by raising their hiring wage to $9.  Target and TJX Companies Inc., owner of both T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s, followed suit.

So, if you’re a retailer paying more for a larger staff, how do you make sure you get the most bang for your buck?

Here are 3 tips to remember when managing seasonal staff:

1. Train your staff to adhere to branding and customer service standards

  • Just because some of your staff may only be with you for a few weeks, doesn’t mean you should toss out your employee training. Just make it relevant to your short-term goals in the holiday season.
  • Get to the point: What is the core message of your brand? What do you expect of your staff when they are walking the retail floor or helping a customer?
  • Customer service is key. It’s reflective of the company in the larger sense. If customers don’t get the respect that they feel they deserve, they won’t come back.  

2. Prioritize transparency/communication to ensure everyone is on the same page and employees aren't overlapping or idle.

  • Evenly distribute your staff through your store and assign specific tasks to each employee. You may also want to post your store’s employee schedule in common areas like the break room.
  • Managers should regularly check for compliance. Check that each employee is completing their assigned task, whether it’s manning cash registers, stocking shelves, checking inventory, or preparing food.
  • Report individual problems and address them as they arise. Don’t say, “Ah, well this employee won’t even be here in a month. Why bother?” That managerial attitude can big cumulative losses across multiple stores. If you’re holding up your end of the deal as an employer, make sure employees are giving you their best effort.

3. Smart planning to ensure you have extra staff on hand to clean bathrooms or keep up with rearranging high-traffic displays for the influx of shoppers.

  • Part of running the front of a store is the back of the store. Your employees know when you are disorganized; it’s a quality that can disenfranchise some. Organization should come from the top down. It starts with keeping track of your staff’s schedule and activity and trickles down to the “little things” like keeping a tidy breakroom.
  • Don’t neglect your restrooms, both for employees and for the public. Especially if you’re in the foodservice business, nothing damages a brand faster than a disgusting restroom.
  • Follow your store’s planogram. Hopefully, it has been organized in a way that accommodates for higher customer traffic. If a fire exit is blocked, or a store is above capacity, the store may get fined or, worse yet, it could get shut down as a result of an impromptu audit.

The Takeaway

The holiday season should be a time of growth and prosperity, and for retailers, it’s often the most profitable time of the year. When hiring employees it’s important to recognize the challenges that come with an influx of both customers and employees.

Even if you’re a large big-box retailer, there are ways to operate your store like a small business with heightened accountability. It’s a matter of having the right tools.

Explore Zenput and learn how our service can raise the bar on retail operations.

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