How to Sleigh It with Your Temporary Staff This Christmas

Christmas shopping

Last Christmas saw high street retailers Next, JD Sports, Dunelm, and even Greggs all reap the rewards of the Christmas shopping period, with profits up considerably compared with previous months and years. The festive period is a critical time for the high street, with research suggesting that up to 30% of retail sales take place during this period. As the Christmas shopping season continues to drive footfall for retailers, it’s crucial that stores have enough staff on the shop floor to keep queues to a minimum and provide quality customer service at all times.

Recruiting seasonal staff can help retailers meet temporary increases in customer demand without committing to hiring permanent employees. But in order to find enough suitable candidates and make their work a success, retailers should pay careful consideration to the recruitment process, from advertising the job to defining staff roles.

Plan staffing requirements based on previous years

Use point-of-sale data from (or simply your own experience of) previous Christmas periods to predict the customer footfall you should expect during the upcoming festive season. This will help store managers determine how many staff members should be on the rota at any given time — just remember to take into account any local events or other circumstances which may affect footfall. This will help you plan how many staff you actually need to hire, and which shifts can be filled by existing employees.

Get started early

Every retailer knows that planning for Christmas should start long before the decorations are up, not least to meet the demands of Black Friday at the end of November. Recruiting for seasonal staff is no exception. Seasonal job adverts should ideally be published as early as September to give you the pick of the potential candidates. This’ll also leave plenty of time for training in advance of the Christmas rush, so that staff are well prepared when shoppers are out in force.

Seek referrals

Posting job adverts isn’t the only way to find temporary staff. Try asking your existing workforce to spread the word — they may have family or friends who are looking for extra work over the festive period. These referrals can be crucial if you’re struggling to find seasonal staff — you haven’t spent any time or money trying to find these candidates, and they’re likely to be a good fit.

Cast the net wide

To maximise job interest, retailers should use a range of platforms to publish different adverts — and tailor them accordingly. For example, online job boards at universities and colleges could attract students with some spare time over Christmas. A job advert targeted at career-hungry students should focus on skills development, gaining experience and any industry connections that the role offers.

Advertising on local newspaper job boards and on shop windows, meanwhile, could help attract candidates with families, or even the semi-retired. Here, the advert should focus on any flexibility that the role offers — perhaps staff can choose shifts or swap with colleagues? This will attract people who need to fit work around childcare, other jobs, or simply their retirement.

Be explicit

Include key terms such as ‘seasonal,’ ‘winter’ and ‘Christmas’ in adverts to help people seeking temporary work via search engines find the job they’re looking for. Make it clear that the role is temporary and the period staff will be expected to work (e.g. November to early January). Be honest about whether a permanent contract might be offered after the initial working period ends, but don’t allude to the prospect of permanent work if it probably won’t happen.

As ever, the high street can expect a significant surge over the Christmas period. It’s crucial that you have competent, enthusiastic seasonal staff on the shop floor and in the stock room to provide excellent service to customers and maximise your seasonal sales. All it takes is to be smart with your recruitment, onboarding, and rota planning processes, so that you have the right staff, working in the right place, at the right time during this crucial period.

Written by James Lintern, co-founder of Rotacloud.

Click here to read the guide to successful retail staff training.