Seasonal Labor Strategies During Peak Season

Published : October 15, 2019

Depositphotos_18296483_dsWith one of the tightest labor markets on record it’s not surprising that many HR departments are struggling in the areas of hiring and retention. And while hiring and retention have always been a challenge, the impact of eCommerce is raising the stakes to a whole new level – if your company has adopted a direct to consumer (D2C) eCommerce channel – the time window for fulfilling the majority of your orders during peak season has shrunk, in many cases, from months to weeks.

In this article we’ll be focusing on a few key areas of a successful hiring and retention strategy, with specific attention to eCommerce fulfillment during peak season(s). While all these strategies have merit, it can be helpful to review these ideas based on their ability to support and improve your own company culture.

Build a solid foundation of full-time employees

Before peak season, ask yourself if you’ve developed a solid core of full-time employees. These are the folks that will be training, monitoring, and interacting with the seasonal employees you’re bringing in – make sure they are well trained, happy, and ready to help bring your seasonal hires up to speed.

Recruiting

 Are you fishing in the same pond as your competitors, or are you taking the time to explore labor pools that they may be overlooking? Retirees, individuals with disabilities, students (high school and college), “gig” workers – there are always people looking for flexible, part-time work. So, ask yourself, how well are you organized to find them? Here are a few ideas to consider pursuing:

Retirees

While there are specific sites to help in terms of reaching older part-time staff, consider reaching out to local churches, mosques, or synagogues to see if members of their congregation are looking for part-time work. Those involved in organized faith-groups continue to skew older, providing you with a potential pool of responsible, retired seasonal staff.

Gig workers

 By definition these are individuals looking for flexible work and income. Print recruitment business cards and encourage employees to share them with friends or acquaintances that are already doing freelance or gig work.

Individuals with Disabilities

Walgreen’s has made a name for itself, expanded its hiring pool, and improved its bottom line via its Retail Employees with Disability Initiative (REDI). In a nutshell, the company works with local agencies, community organizations, vocational rehabilitation agencies, and state and local social services agencies to identify and screen potential employees. Using this program, Walgreens is able to tap into a labor pool that is often overlooked.

 Give your employees a reason to want to come in to work

 EVERY company provides a paycheck, and there will always be companies that can pay a higher wage. Given these realities, what are you doing to provide a workplace environment that is supportive to both your full-time and seasonal hires?

Remember, higher pay isn’t necessarily the most important factor to employees -- if your pay rate is competitive then your ability to provide “quality of life benefits” will go a long way toward maintaining and retaining a happy, productive team of employees. Areas to consider:

Flexible work schedules

 Remember that “flexible” will be defined differently for different employee groups -- stay-at-home parents and retirees might be happier with 4 - 6 hour shifts, while younger employees may prefer 10-12 hour shifts. Providing shift options to meet the needs of your employees can be a powerful retention aid that differentiates you from the competition down the street.

Right training and tools

Training needs to be consistent and focused on providing all new employees with what they need to be successful. Make sure expectations are clearly defined and that employees have a way to monitor their productivity. Because individuals disseminate information differently, consider providing written, visual, and hands-on training components. In addition, continue to get feedback from staff on ways to improve your training – they’re the ones that know what works and what doesn’t.

Also, realize that training never ends -- employees are always going to have questions, run into problems, and need help with equipment. Ask yourself, do they know where to go to get help? Make sure you create clear processes and have identified appropriate staff to help with day-to-day problems.

Finally, everyone knows that it’s hard to do a good job without the right tools, so take the time to regularly inventory and test tools/equipment to ensure that all your staff has ready access to everything they need to be successful. Remember, one of the best ways to chase a good employee out the door is to make it difficult for them to do their job well.

Recognition, respect, and support

A company that values and respects their employees is a company with a significant competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff. Not surprisingly, this isn’t something that a company can fake – motivational posters on the wall probably aren’t the answer. Some areas to consider:

  • Does your company regularly communicate current goals and expectations with your fulfillment staff? Do you take time to regularly recognize and celebrate wins? Is the majority of your communication positive, or does your fulfillment staff only hear bad news from “the top”?
  • What do you do to make sure everyone feels part of the team? Are you unnecessarily segregating your seasonal staff from your full-time staff or are you using peak season as an opportunity to bring everyone together to meet a goal? Certainly, seasonal fulfillment staff are unlikely to have the training to perform higher-skilled duties but do everything you can not to make them feel like “disposable” employees.
  • Is management visible and engaged? Imagine a sports team that never saw or spoke to their coach. It’s important for employees to know who they “play” for, and that they are important to the company’s success.
  • Are you offering meaningful, ongoing support? The pressure during peak season is intense, so any efforts to reduce stress or discomfort will be greatly appreciated. Snacks, hot coffee or tea, warm clothing, gift certificates, day care vouchers, English language lessons for non-speakers, etc., all communicate your commitment to the comfort and safety of your staff.

About Aero Fulfillment Services

For over 30 years, Aero has focused on adding value to our client’s businesses by providing the services that increase their fulfillment effectiveness and efficiency, while lowering their overall fulfillment costs. 

At Aero, our team takes pride in providing flexible, transparent, and innovative fulfillment processes with a focus on efficient IT solutions and rapid integration services. Aero is committed to meeting the unique fulfillment needs of our B2B and D2C clients, and ultimately, their end customers.

Interested in learning how Aero can add value to your business while reducing your fulfillment costs? Contact Aero Fulfillment Services today to schedule a free evaluation of your fulfillment processes and needs. 

 

Topics: Warehouse Management, Supply Chain Efficiency, Holidays, fourth quarter, Peak Season

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