by Jennifer Ulrich, Senior Project Manager
As the holidays approach, we read about the uptick in holiday hiring across all affected industries. While the buzz is primarily around the retail sector, where businesses typically increase their temporary staff both on the sales floor and in the warehouses, this seasonal surge in employment also affects other industries. Most businesses involved in the stream of commerce, from manufacturing to goods distribution, are adding additional temporary staff to accommodate the increase in sales.
When businesses turn to seasonal hiring there are many factors they need to consider:
- Do they follow the same onboarding processes as they would for full time permanent staffing such as background and drug screening?
- What methods do they pursue to encourage employee engagement with the temporary staff or do they bother?
- How will they manage the increased turnover in staff that is targeted for two to three months of employment at most?
This article will focus on these and other challenges the HR and procurement departments face when managing the seasonal hiring process and some tips on how to overcome them.
One of the most critical, and notably cumbersome, aspects of seasonal staffing is the hiring and onboarding processes. Businesses are hiring anywhere from dozens to thousands of seasonal staff members, a process that involves cycles of tax paperwork, background and drug screening where necessary, establishing start dates and scheduling, determining a new managerial structure, developing and assigning tasks, and new company- and role-specific employee training. This is in addition to procuring uniforms, badges, data access rights, and other ancillary needs from an IT and Facilities focus. Adding to the problem is that all of this needs to happen in short order depending on when the business expects the workload to escalate. Managing these tasks requires an airtight process and experienced individuals managing that process. Each step of the hiring and onboarding process needs to be planned out and structured leaving little room for error. Not only is there a complex process for the onboarding, but there is likely a high volume of candidates to move through that process.
The business should also have a clear picture of all costs associated with onboarding one individual to mitigate the financial risk of onboarding staff that has a high turnover. An internal review is advised to determine where flexibility exists in the current staff to take on additional hours to maximize existing resources and reduce the costs associated with the temporary staff hiring and training processes. Ultimately, a well-organized, well-structured onboarding process will lead to a more efficient working staff and more engaged team members.
Engagement and Duties
While the seasonal staff is employed, challenges such as data access and employee engagement become issues for many HR departments. With the majority of the temporary staff being just that – temporary — businesses need to adequately prepare for what information the employees will have access to and what levels of authorization they should be privy to. Those leading these efforts on the business side need to keep very clear records of who has access to what. This information should be tracked and updated regularly. The increased number of temporary staff blended with the permanent staff members leads to difficult keeping the teams engaged. Even though the temporary staff is only there for a short period of time, the business should make some effort to ensure they are engaged to alleviate any unnecessary excess turnover. There will inevitably be a high turnover but limiting that will lead to reduced expense to on and off board those individuals. This leads to my next point…
The offboarding process is just as important as the on boarding process, and more often the piece of the process that has the most loose ends. Collecting all uniforms, badges, revoking data access, retrieving all equipment, designating end dates, and reorganizing schedules once again are all tasks included in the offboarding process. Businesses need to plan for any employee transitions where they intend to absorb temporary staff into the permanent team. All of this needs to be planned way in advance of even hiring individuals, on boarding the right team members is the first step to determining who, if any, of the temporary staff have the potential to be long term players. There is a good potential for lingering costs to be left on the table if the off boarding process is not properly executed. This can include security access equipment and uniforms, even software licenses for systems that may have been needed temporarily, all of which can be costly if too many exited staff members are not off boarded correctly. Just as with the on boarding process the key to proper off boarding is a sound process that is as automated as possible.
The main point for seasonal staff management process is having a comprehensive plan and a well-organized team to manage it with optimal efficiency. Being prepared long in advance will help the business streamline the process from end to end and manage costs while doing so.