PrincePerelson & Associates

How Temporary Staffing Can Prevent Holiday Disasters

For business owners, the end of the year can be overwhelming. Increased customer business may lead to expanded operating hours. Closing out projects and achieving year-end goals pile tasks and assignments on top of daily workloads. Holidays and family gatherings spur employees to use vacation days before they lose them. If that wasn’t enough, it is also the start of cold and flu season. All these factors lead to fewer employee hours in the office and more tasks to complete – the perfect conditions for a workplace catastrophe.

Finding A Fitting Solution

Identifying qualified employees to complete the growing number of responsibilities can be challenging when you are in the middle of a workload crisis. The increase in business may be beneficial, but without the workforce to back it up, bottlenecks are likely to occur, and customer deadlines may fall by the wayside. Dealing decisively and correctly with the problem is key to maintaining and enabling further growth.

Redoubling Hiring Efforts: A sudden increase in business may lead some executives scrambling to hire more full or part-time employees. However, this miscalculation during the holidays may force you to lay off new employees just a few months later. This quick catch-and-release hiring practice wastes time and money, finding and training employees you may not be able to keep. It can also negatively impact your unemployment insurance rates.

Increasing Overtime: Alternatively, employers may ask current employees to put in additional hours at work. Requiring overtime does eliminate the need to hire new employees, but it puts further strain on staff that may already be spread thin over the holidays. Overtime at the wrong time of year can least to burnout, decreased productivity, and higher employee turnover rates. Paying employees time and a half for working extra hours can also increase operating costs significantly.

Temporary Seasonal Staffing: Staffing firms pre-screen employees for valuable skills and experience, matching them with jobs for which they need very little training. Partnering with staffing experts allows you to eliminate much of the time and effort you would generally spend vetting job applicants. Expanding your staff temporarily also enables you to keep costs down, avoid paying overtime, and free up direct employees to concentrate on higher-value tasks.

Planning Ahead

With many companies anticipating hiring temporary staff during the holiday season, the most talented individuals will already have a job before Thanksgiving. If you want access to a broad applicant pool of skilled workers, you will need to make plans in advance. Partnering with a temporary staffing firm months in advance to create and execute a temporary staffing plan will give you the best chance at success.

1. Analyze Anticipated Needs

If this is your first time hiring temporary staffing for the holiday season, you will need to determine your needs first.

  • Asking direct employees to submit plans and requests for time off is a significant first step that will allow you to make plans for providing adequate coverage for employee vacations.
  • To avoid losing profits to overtime pay, consider using temporary hires to cover extended operating hours.
  • Do you have project deadlines piling up at the end of the year? Temporary staff can assist in daily operations and free up full-time employees to focus their efforts on these timely tasks.
  • Identify steps where company holdups are most likely to occur and their causes. In some cases, it may prove helpful to talk to suppliers about increasing inventory before the holiday demand hits. Other times, simply having more staff on hand to get the work done can help keep business moving forward.

2. Define Your Needs

As with any hiring operation, it is vital to enumerate precisely what your needs are. What positions will need extra support, and what skills are required for those tasks? What days and hours will employees be working and for how long?

Problems may arise in the workplace when employee and employer expectations are not aligned. Seasonal staff may join a company hoping it will lead to a full-time position at the end of the year. If the work is temporary, make sure that it is clear to applicants before they sign on.

Be clear about expectations for days and hours employees will be expected to work. Seasonal employment often involves working nights, weekends, or holidays. Some applicants may decide to apply for multiple positions to earn extra money. Applicants should clearly understand what days and hours they will be working to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings.

3. Take Copious Notes

When the time to hire temporary staffing for the holidays rolls around again next year, you may have forgotten what transpired the previous year unless you document your findings. Make a note of the highs and lows of the experience. What worked well, and what undermined your efforts to be successful? Strive to improve processes until you develop a system that works reliably for you.

4. Formulate an Onboarding Plan

You do not need to train temporary staff members to perform every task. In fact, it is most cost-effective for these employees to perform less-skilled functions that must occur at a high volume. However, you still need to allow time to orient them and teach them how you do business to serve customers effectively. Some cross-training among full-time employees is also beneficial. It will enable them to fill in when colleagues are out or when supervising seasonal staff members. It may also provide learning and leadership opportunities.

Do not choose a busy Friday night to start onboarding your new staff. Identify a time when you expect fewer customers so you can take your time teaching and answering questions without compromising customer service. If you are working with a staffing firm, they can provide resources for training many temporary employees in a short period of time. They can help you develop a hiring plan that you can successfully use year after year.

5. Integrate All Employees

Temporary employees are more likely to work hard to support your company goals if they feel vested in the business outcome. Although at times you cannot offer them all the same benefits that full-time employees get, you may be able to reward them for their efforts with employee discounts or other perks that make them feel their contributions are valuable. Establishing positive working relationships between direct and temporary staff can also lead to better success during the busy holiday season.

Although it seems far away, now is the ideal time to start thinking about developing a staffing plan for the holidays. Consider partnering with a staffing firm to identify your needs and find skilled staff to support you and your company in meeting customer needs. Dodging the crisis created by being understaffed and overstretched can take some of the stress out of the busy holiday season.