10 Holiday Hiring Tips for Small Businesses: Your Essential Guide



10 Holiday Hiring Tips for Small Businesses

As the holiday season approaches, small businesses are gearing up for a potentially prosperous time, buoyed by the National Retail Federation‘s optimistic prediction of holiday sales ranging from $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion. With this promising outlook on the horizon, the spotlight turns to the critical task of holiday hiring. Ensuring your business has the right staff in place is essential for capitalizing on the festive shopping frenzy.

To guide you in this endeavor, here are 10 invaluable holiday hiring tips specially curated for small businesses. These insights will not only help you navigate the challenges of seasonal staffing but also ensure a seamless and successful holiday shopping experience for your customers.



After reading, be sure to check out this video by Business First AM. In it, they give more helpful tips holiday hiring tips for HR departments and job seekers.

Holiday Hiring Tips

Here are 10 holiday hiring tips for small businesses so you’ll have the staff you need.

Offer A Training Class

Holiday Hiring - group in a training class


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Tara Wolckenhauer, DVP of Human Resources at ADP, offered the first suggestion.

“On the job training led by strong leaders – and if possible, on a team that is already doing the work, helps to quickly get them educated and learn.”

Going beyond basic training, consider incorporating role-playing scenarios and customer service simulations. This approach helps seasonal employees deal with real-life situations they might encounter, increasing their confidence and competence. Additionally, provide quick reference guides or cheat sheets for common tasks or queries.

Use Video

She also says that video is a great tool to include in these classes. Mixing up the videos with interactive activities makes the lessons more memorable.



Incorporate interactive quizzes or polls within training videos to keep learners engaged. Consider using video testimonials from past successful seasonal employees to inspire and motivate new hires. This personal touch can make the training process more relatable and effective.

Measure Small Tasks

“Ensuring strong, short-term performance begins with a clear job description that includes “tasks” that can be measured objectively,” Wolckenhauer writes. Use benchmarks like knowledge retention to gauge how well the seasonal help is doing.

Define specific, measurable goals for each phase of the holiday season. For example, set targets for inventory management, customer interaction, or sales achievements. Regularly review these metrics with your team to track progress and adjust strategies as needed.

Talk Frequently

Holiday hiring - talk frequently



There’s not a lot of time to train seasonal workers. Having frequent conversations and check ins allows you to find areas that need to get better. This is a great way to boost morale and foster engagement for these short-term helpers.

Establish a culture of open communication by scheduling regular brief team meetings. Encourage seasonal staff to share their experiences, challenges, and suggestions. This approach not only helps in identifying areas for improvement but also makes employees feel valued and heard.

Make Job Descriptions Clear

Provide detailed job descriptions that go beyond basic duties. Include expectations regarding customer service standards, handling peak hour rushes, and dealing with challenging situations. Clear job descriptions help set the right expectations and reduce ambiguity.

Wolckenhauer explains:



“Ensuring strong, short-term performance begins with a clear job description that includes “tasks” that can be measured objectively. Employers need to be upfront with the role so there is a mutual understanding of the job the employee is to fill.”

Know Where to Look

Holiday Hiring Tips - know where to look, man looking at a job board on his PC

Explore local community centers, vocational schools, and universities as potential recruitment sources. Engaging with local community groups and educational institutions can tap into a pool of enthusiastic individuals looking for short-term opportunities.

There are different places to get holiday staff. Recruiting agencies are great if you’ve got an early start. These are best when you start a few months early.  Posting your job opening is another option that works. Places like Indeed.com get great results.



Staffing agencies are another route.

Leverage Existing Staff

“Leverage existing staff and appoint strong leaders to help cross train hires and drive results,” Wolckenhauer writes.

Building a learning culture all year round helps. Make training sessions part of your small business workflow. That makes it familiar when you ask experienced staff to train seasonal workers.

Encourage your experienced staff to take on mentorship roles. Pairing new hires with mentors can facilitate a smoother integration into the team. It can also provide your seasoned employees with leadership development opportunities



Look to Retirees

Older people are quite often looking to make a few extra bucks during the holiday season. Post a notice at the local Seniors’ Center. You might even be able to get people who have retired from your industry. That way you’ll get holiday help that has industry knowledge.

When reaching out to retirees, highlight flexible work hours and the opportunity to share their expertise. Retirees often bring a wealth of experience and a different perspective that can be invaluable during the busy holiday season.

Focus on Flexibility

You need to keep in mind that you’re looking for people to fill positions requiring some non regular hours. Retailers might need seasonal help that’s willing to work the overnight shift to stock shelves.

Hiring people who can switch a shift on a moments notice will make your holiday sales period easier.



When hiring, clearly communicate the need for flexible scheduling. Consider offering incentives for shifts that are typically hard to fill. Being upfront about scheduling needs helps in attracting the right candidates who are willing and able to work non-traditional hours.

Don’t Put Holiday Hiring Off

holiday hiring - flexibility

Some experts say you should start planning for the holiday season as soon as the previous one ends. Seasonal employees need a great work ethic but don’t forget to look for personality too. Your customers want to have a good experience and that starts with the frontline staff you hire.

Develop a year-round recruitment strategy that builds a pool of potential candidates well before the holiday season. Engage with past seasonal workers who performed well, as they already understand your business and require less training.



Incorporating insights from expert recommendations, the following table effectively organizes and summarizes the 10 essential holiday hiring tips for small businesses, offering a concise overview of actionable strategies to ensure a seamless seasonal staffing process.

Holiday Hiring TipsExpert Advice
Offer A Training ClassTara Wolckenhauer, DVP of Human Resources at ADP, suggests providing on-the-job training led by experienced team members. Video content with interactive elements enhances learning retention.
Measure Small TasksDefine clear, objective tasks in job descriptions to enable measurement of short-term performance. Use benchmarks like knowledge retention to assess seasonal employees' progress.
Talk FrequentlyRegular conversations and check-ins with seasonal workers are essential due to limited training time. This fosters engagement, identifies improvement areas, and boosts morale.
Make Job Descriptions ClearTransparent job descriptions, including tasks and educational requirements, establish mutual understanding of roles. Wolckenhauer emphasizes upfront role communication.
Know Where to LookConsider options like recruiting agencies, job posting platforms (e.g., Indeed.com), and staffing agencies to find suitable holiday staff.
Leverage Existing StaffUtilize experienced employees to cross-train seasonal hires. Building a learning culture throughout the year makes training sessions more familiar and effective.
Look to RetireesTap into older individuals seeking holiday work, including retirees from your industry. Posting notices at local Seniors' Centers can help attract knowledgeable seasonal help.
Focus on FlexibilitySeek candidates open to non-regular hours and schedule changes, especially in industries with varying shifts like retail. Clear communication about scheduling is vital.
Don’t Put Holiday Hiring OffBegin planning for the holiday season well in advance. Look for not only strong work ethics but also personalities that contribute to a positive customer experience.

Overcoming Common Holiday Hiring Pitfalls

While holiday hiring holds the potential to elevate your small business’s success, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Understanding and proactively addressing these potential pitfalls can help you navigate the seasonal staffing process with confidence and efficiency.

1. Underestimating Staffing Needs

One of the most common mistakes is underestimating the number of staff required to handle the holiday rush. Failing to adequately assess your business’s needs can lead to overwhelmed employees and dissatisfied customers. Analyze historical data and sales projections to determine the right staffing levels.

2. Neglecting the Onboarding Process

Hiring seasonal staff doesn’t mean compromising on the onboarding process. Skipping proper training can result in confusion, mistakes, and ultimately a decline in customer satisfaction. Allocate time and resources to onboard new hires, ensuring they understand their roles and responsibilities.



3. Overlooking Cultural Fit

A strong cultural fit is crucial for maintaining a harmonious work environment. Hiring solely based on skills without considering whether the candidate aligns with your company culture can lead to conflicts and decreased team cohesion. Assess candidates not only for their qualifications but also for their fit within your business’s ethos.

4. Failing to Communicate Expectations

Clear communication is key, especially when dealing with temporary hires who might not be familiar with your business’s operations. Failing to communicate expectations regarding performance, behavior, and scheduling can lead to misunderstandings and frustration.

5. Delaying Recruitment

Again, leaving holiday hiring to the last minute can limit your options and result in settling for subpar candidates. Starting the hiring process early gives you time to vet applicants thoroughly and select those who are the best fit for your business.

6. Ignoring Feedback from Seasonal Staff

Holiday hiring - feedback from employees during online meeting

Seasonal staff can provide valuable insights into what’s working and what could be improved in your holiday operations. Ignoring their feedback not only diminishes morale but also prevents you from making necessary adjustments to enhance customer service and streamline processes.

7. Disregarding Compliance and Legalities

Temporary employees are entitled to certain rights and protections. Failing to adhere to labor laws and regulations can lead to legal issues and damage your business’s reputation. Educate yourself about the legal requirements for hiring seasonal staff and ensure you’re in full compliance.

8. Not Planning for Succession

While the focus is on temporary holiday hiring, considering the possibility of retaining exceptional seasonal staff for permanent roles can be advantageous. Have a plan in place to identify and transition top performers into long-term positions if the opportunity arises.

Image: Depositphotos.com


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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

One Reaction
  1. It is about hiring the right people even if it is just for the holiday season. It is also about opening opportunities for them after if you like their services.

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