8 Tips for Retailers When Dealing with the Holiday Labor Shortage

Retailers, Get Ready for the Holiday Labor Shortage

With unemployment rates dropping and retail wages rising, the holiday labor shortage in retail is intensifying. Small retailers who need seasonal holiday employees are facing stiff competition from big retailers this year,  Monster.com (NYSE:MWW) reports.

Adding to the crunch, since Christmas falls on a Monday this year, more consumers are projected to head to brick-and-mortar stores for last-minute gifts since they won’t be able to get products shipped fast enough. That means more customers and potentially less help.

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How can your business successfully compete for retail employees at this critical time of year? First tip: Start hiring now. Here are seven more.

How to Beat the Holiday Labor Shortage

  • Offer Employee Discounts – At holiday time, employee discounts can be a significant motivator for potential hires.
  • Make It Fun – Energize your staff with contests, dress-up days, treats, after-hours activities, etc.
  • Give Out Bonuses – Offer both end-of-season and intermediate bonuses to incentivize performance and commitment.
  • Offer Longer Hours – Save on training costs and cater to seasonal workers who desire more hours.
  • Set Regular Schedules – Provide consistency and advance notice for your employees.
  • Pay Higher Wages – Stay competitive and ensure top-notch service by offering competitive or above-average wages.
  • Spread the Word – Tap into your existing network of employees and loyal customers for referrals.

holiday labor shortage retail

Offer Employee Discounts

In the bustling world of retail, especially during the festive season, offering employee discounts emerges as a compelling incentive.

The magic of the holiday season often revolves around giving, and even if the items in your store don’t catch the eye of every employee, the allure of a discount can be twofold.

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For one, they might find the perfect gift for a loved one. And secondly, this perk subtly reinforces a sense of belonging and appreciation, binding them closer to your brand and its values.

Make It Fun

Working retail during the holidays is about as stressful as it gets so re-energizing your staff is key.  Imagine transforming ordinary workdays into a carnival-like atmosphere with contests or theme-based dress-up days.

Such initiatives infuse a sense of playfulness. Complement this with occasional treats – perhaps cookies or hot cocoa on a cold day.

After strenuous shifts, assisting them in organizing recreational activities, be it roller skating escapades, bowling nights, or relaxed happy hours, can revitalize their energy and camaraderie.

Give Out Bonuses

Acknowledging the relentless dedication of your employees during the festive rush can be transformative. Consider end-of-season bonuses as a testament to their unwavering commitment throughout the busiest time of year.

But don’t just stop there. Periodic incentives, tied to achievable goals like punctuality or meeting sales targets, keep the momentum going.

And remember, bonuses aren’t always about monetary rewards. Sometimes, a gift card to a cozy local eatery, a night out at the movies, or even a shopping spree in your own store can be just as cherished, if not more.

holiday labor shortage retail

Offer Longer Hours for Those Who Want Them

A streamlined workforce often results in a more cohesive and effective team. By hiring a slightly smaller team but offering extended hours, you not only economize on training expenses but also tap into the desires of many seasonal employees.

The holiday season often sees individuals eager to earn a bit extra, making the prospect of longer shifts an appealing one.

With more hours on offer, it’s easier to match the store’s needs with the aspirations of workers eager to maximize their earnings during this period.

Set Regular Schedules

Predictability can be a comforting aspect in the otherwise chaotic realm of holiday retail. The anxiety of “on-call scheduling”, the unpredictability it brings, is often a sore point among retail workers.

This is where technology comes to the rescue. Modern employee scheduling software can be a game-changer, allowing you to craft and disseminate schedules well in advance.

Aiming for consistency, like fixed shifts, can further ease the lives of your employees. But life is full of surprises, and when last-minute changes do arise, these software solutions ensure smooth shift swaps and replacements, seamlessly communicated through text or email.

holiday labor

Pay Higher Wages

In the competitive retail landscape, especially amidst the festive rush, the quality of service can make or break a business.

Being aware of wage standards in your locale and striving to offer at the top echelons can set you apart.

The holiday season’s frenzy underscores the importance of well-compensated, motivated staff. While the allure of commission might seem enticing initially, the drawbacks often overshadow the benefits.

Commission-driven employees might resort to aggressive sales tactics, potentially souring customer relationships.

In contrast, employees remunerated with a generous hourly wage tend to be more invested in understanding and catering to the genuine needs of the shoppers, crafting an experience that’s both memorable and authentic.

Understanding the differences between higher wages and commission-based pay can shape the employee experience and customer interactions in your retail business:

Higher WagesCommission-Based
Employee MotivationMotivated by a stable and competitive incomeMotivated by potential of unlimited earnings
Customer ExperienceProvides thoughtful service, listens to customer needsMight push for hard sales, leading to potential regrets and returns
Employee RetentionPotentially higher, due to stable incomeMight be lower if not enough sales opportunities
Overall Service QualityConsistent and more customer-centricCan be aggressive, focusing on sales over service

Spread the Word

Existing employees and regular store customers are a great source of potential employees. Email customers on your email newsletter list and ask if they know anyone looking for seasonal work.

You can even offer a hiring bonus for those who refer someone who successfully completes training and works throughout the season.

How do you plan to look for seasonal workers this year?

Holiday Employee Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

One Reaction
  1. When I am working for a company, they would often offer double pay on holidays plus some other perks. So if you really need the money, you would go ahead and take it.

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