NFIB members share tips for hiring reliable seasonal workers during the holiday sales season.
Hiring is a year-round challenge for many small business owners, especially in a tight labor market. During the last quarter of the year, the staffing crunch often is heightened when it’s time to hire seasonal and part-time employees for the holiday rush.
NFIB’s September 2019 Jobs Report showed that 88 percent of business owners reported finding few, if any, qualified applicants for open positions. In June, finding and hiring qualified talent was ranked as the single most important business problem affecting small business owners.
Here are six tips for finding reliable seasonal workers ahead of the holiday rush.
Turn to Community Leaders
When NFIB member John Wilson, president and COO of Super Foods Supermarkets in Luverne, Alabama, needs to add seasonal workers to his usual workforce of 89 employees at his two stores, he turns to community leaders, such as church pastors, for referrals. “They know their people,” says Wilson, a member of the NFIB Leadership Council. “They know who they are willing to put their reputation on the line for with a referral.”
Get Social on Social Networks
A “help wanted” sign on your front window reaches only local foot traffic. For a broader reach, share your recruitment notice on your social media accounts.
Take your social post to the next level by asking local business owners to share your posts to reach potential workers outside of your social network.
Head Back to School
Local high schools previously had been a reliable source for temporary workers for small business owners like Wilson, but not as much anymore. The percentage of teen workers has declined significantly nationwide due to students opting to focus strictly on school rather than splitting time between school and work, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Instead of reaching out to guidance counselors for part-time help, contact parent organizations like the PTA. You’ll reach not only parents who want to find work for their children but also parents interested in picking up hours and extra funds over the holidays.
NFIB member Mark Peterson, COO and owner of H&H Furniture in Yakima, Washington, found greater success targeting students at a local trade school.
“That has been a great pipeline for us for a number of years,” says Peterson. “The students have a good work ethic and are used to working with their hands.”
Hire from Within
Now that the state of Washington has raised its minimum wage, Peterson says he’s cut back on seasonal hiring and is instead increasing weekly hours during the holidays for his full-time staff. “My crew already knows the rhythm and flow of the holiday season, so we don’t have to invest time on training new employees,” he says.
Offer Employees a Referral Bonus
Ask current employees for recommendations and offer them a referral bonus for each vetted person who signs on.
By maximizing both your internal resources and external networks, you’ll broaden the pool of prospective employees who can contribute to your staff and help your business thrive during the holiday season.