A Roadmap for Holiday Hiring Success

HR technologies help save time and resources this holiday season and beyond.

By Marianne Langlois, Global Process Executive, NorthgateArinso

Fall is here, and retailers already have begun ramping up their hiring for the holidays. While some retailers have cut back seasonal employment, numerous other organizations have announced they are doubling entire workforces to help with the flow of incoming traffic and consumer demands. Whether a company plans on hiring one or 10,000 extra employees this holiday season, they all face similar challenges in finding, onboarding, and training these employees.

Seasonal hiring is about more than just making sure there are enough hands on the deck—it’s about ensuring that the talent hired reinforces and strengthens the business’ image and reputation as a brand of choice. To ensure seasonal employees are impactful drivers of the brand preference, employers must recruit, hire, and train the best people. This can be a daunting task, especially given the short time frame of seasonal employment. However, by leveraging various HR tools and technologies, companies can be empowered to manage their seasonal workforce in an effective and strategic manner that ensures they secure the best talent for the job.

Finding the Right People

According to the National Retail Federation, November and December sales make up nearly one-fifth of the retail industry’s annual sales and can account for as much as 40 percent of an individual retailer’s annual revenue. In order for companies to best capitalize on this revenue-rich time frame, they must first ensure people are aware of their open seasonal positions. While many may see HR technologies as resources that can only be leveraged once an employee is hired, recruiting and scheduling technologies can be useful in helping recruiters post positions, qualify candidates, and schedule interviews.

For starters, recruiting technologies can analyze the number of positions to be filled and aggregate job posting information across job boards, freeing HR executives from spending a large amount of time and resources individually posting information on every job board Website.

Once the posting is live, this technology then can make recruitment more objective and seamless as the technology can screen and evaluate candidates based on predetermined criteria, as well as categorize applicants by skill sets and job history. This information allows employers to quickly identify top talent, as well as general areas for workforce development.

Once the applicants are identified, interviews must take place. Scheduling interviews is one of the most dreaded parts of seasonal hiring for many HR executives and recruiters, especially when thousands of applications are received for seasonal positions. By leveraging recruiting and scheduling technologies, however, prospective employees are empowered to choose and manage their own interview times. This self-service technology not only saves the employer time and un-needed stress, it also allows the potential hire the autonomy to control aspects of the hiring experience.

Activating the Team

While shoppers are still very much aware of the struggling economy, they are looking beyond holiday sales to other value-added services unique to the brand—meaning that service and not sales will drive much of the purchasing behavior for the rest of the season. For management, this means not only finding the right seasonal employees who fit the company’s culture and match specific needs, but also quickly amplifying employee skill sets through targeted training and coaching.

Building a customer-centric, high-performing team demands matching job requirements to people’s strengths, and providing training when skills aren’t a perfect match. While employers have minimal time to train employees before they hit the floor, employing an integrated talent management system can help them better align training to an employee’s specific developmental needs, resulting in a more customized, efficient learning plan that is relevant, impactful, and easy to execute.

For example, if during the initial automated screening process a potential candidate received a high rating on customer service skills and a lower score on inventory tracking skills, an integrated talent management system would alert the employer that this particular employee would benefit from computer system training.

During the holiday season when time is of the essence, offering customized, in-person training to a workforce thousands of members strong may not always be an option. However, these same technologies also can be used to deliver the training through self-service applications accessible online and through mobile. Not only does self-service provide employees with much-needed training, it also empowers employees to learn on their own schedule.

Success Through Integration

Through the implementation of HR technologies, companies can better prepare for and manage seasonal employees to meet and even exceed business goals. While these technologies give insights into employee data at each individual stage of employment, the key to achieving and realizing success across an organization and beyond the holiday season is integration. Establishing integrated HR technologies across a company’s entire infrastructure will make sure all processes—from recruitment to training to payroll—are aligned and communicating with one another. All systems must work together to achieve the optimum effect.

In addition to analyzing and filling immediate needs, ensuring all systems are integrated also aids in long-term planning and a stronger talent pool over time. Management can see who the top performers are in real time and save their data for potential future or post-holiday recruitment. High-performing employees who have a great seasonal experience with an employer may be interested in coming back the following year. Building up a bank of “same time next year” employees will enable companies to streamline seasonal recruitment year after year. In addition, with the unemployment rate hovering above 7 percent, many of these top performers also may be interested in accepting full-time employment for the coming year, enabling employers to beef up the year-round talent pool.

By offering greater workforce insights through integration, HR technologies can help management and training professionals better forecast what is needed to accomplish seasonal business goals and end the year on a positive note. Integrating these technologies across all systems creates a winning solution for employers, employees, and customers alike.

Marianne Langlois is a Global Process executive at global Human Resources services provider NorthgateArinso. For more information, visit http://www.ngahr.com.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.