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It’s that time of year when every business that engages in the holiday retail dash is ramping up operations. Everybody is competing to hire hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers to meet holiday demand.

But some parts of the seasonal hiring are way different in 2020. The coronavirus has expanded the timeline for the holiday dash beyond the traditional timeframe. Scaling up to capture your share of the increased demand during this season is a huge boost for many businesses. If you’re hoping to fill higher order volumes in Q4 this year, you likely find yourself asking, “How can I compete in the holiday hiring spree?”

At Veryable, we connect businesses to on-demand labor through an online marketplace. We see companies find workers within hours of posting work opportunities. We also empower businesses to attract great workers by providing education along with our operational tool.

This article will show you four ways to find the necessary labor to scale your workforce in preparation for the holidays. When you finish reading this, you will know the pros and cons of each option and have an idea of how to use them.

 

Offering signing bonuses to attract workers

Signing bonuses are effective at attracting a large number of applicants quickly. They often come with stipulations that the worker be with the company for some length of time, typically between one and three months. 

The amount businesses offer as a signing bonus can be up to $1,000 and might not even require candidates to have experience. This approach can help you cast a wide net and ensure that you will not be lacking resumes to review.

The drawbacks of sign-on bonuses are that they increase your upfront recruitment and onboarding costs. Plus, they do not always attract qualified applicants or solve for long-term turnover. When you collect more applications, you have to spend more time digging through resumes that don’t meet your requirements. It's also more likely that any given person is applying only because of the bonus.

After you pay workers the sign-on bonus, there’s no guarantee that they will stay long-term. And if they quit shortly after taking the bonus, you are left with increased costs and no long-term benefits from your recruitment efforts.

 

Increasing pay rates to attract workers

Increasing your pay rate is a great first step in achieving your goals and needs to be considered by any business not currently paying the market rate. 

The days of big-box names paying minimum wages are long gone. In those days, small and medium companies had the upper hand because of their higher pay. Now, large companies like Wal-Mart and Amazon are using their huge balance sheets to become the top employment choices for workers. They do this by offering $15 an hour minimum wages, coronavirus bonuses, holiday bonuses, and more. 

Holiday workers are looking to make the most money possible. That's why increasing pay rates will immediately improve every hiring metric: number of applicants, quality of applicants, attendance, and turnover.  

However, if you can’t turn the additional labor into productivity gains, are still running high overtime hours, or are expecting intermittent demand, you will see profits sink quickly from offering higher pay. To avoid these issues, you have to improve your processes, understand how many workers are needed, properly schedule the work, and adapt quickly to changes in labor requirements.

Paying more won’t fix your company’s problems right away, but it can be powerful when you employ the labor correctly.

 

Offering workplace incentives to attract workers

You do not have to break the bank to make your workplace more attractive. By taking some complexity out of the lives of workers and recognizing their efforts, you can offer additional value without offering more cash. 

Workplace incentives such as snacks, employer-provided meals, flexible attendance policies, weekly pay periods, events, recognition, remodeled bathrooms, and enhanced break room areas are incentives to explore besides permanent pay raises. These would make your business more attractive than a competitor that offers none of these. 

One incentive to note is flexible scheduling, which is an especially big deal for hourly workers after the toll COVID-19 took on the job market. A survey of hourly workers by MyWorkChoice reported that 75% of hourly workers want more flexibility in their job, and 70% want the ability to use a mobile app to schedule their shifts.

Whatever incentives you choose, know that you don’t have to find the perfect incentives. Doing any number of these things can show employees that you care about their success at work and that you understand their concerns.

You should keep in mind that offering incentives is not a cure-all solution. Negative factors such as low pay, forced overtime, expected lack of work-life balance, unsavory managers, and bad work conditions usually outweigh these workplace incentives.

Start by removing these obstacles for workers. Then focus on adding incentives. If you provide incentives without fixing a bad work environment, workers see the incentives as an attempted shortcut.

Do not deceive yourself by thinking incentives are a cost-free way to boost morale. It will cost money or time to provide incentives, but the investment can be worth it if it makes your workers happier and more productive.

 

Using outside services to bring workers to you

The easiest way to solve personnel gaps is to engage with an outside service to find workers. There are two popular options available to streamline the process and reduce some of the burden that comes with scaling up a labor force: staffing agencies and on-demand labor.

 

Staffing agencies for talent sourcing

This solution outsources the entire hiring process from recruitment to payroll administration and liability. Staffing agencies recruit unemployed workers just as you would internally. The difference is that the agencies put them on their payroll and charge a percentage of the workers' wages as a fee for the service.

To get started, you will need to contact the staffing agency to find their rates and discuss your needs with them. After that, you will likely sign a contract and agree on how much labor you will use.

If you’re hoping to use seasonal staff as a trial run for potential full-time employees, you should know your options when working with staffing agencies. Some agencies allow you to convert a temp to a full-time employee after the employee works a certain number of hours. In this case, it’s likely you will pay an additional fee to the staffing agency to hire the worker.

Staffing agencies solve the momentous task of recruiting a large workforce, and they do it without requiring much work on your part. 

However, they come with the same challenges you would experience with any full-time employee. Staffing agencies often require long-term contracts with commitments to use their labor a certain amount. This makes it difficult to scale your workforce back down when you need to. Additionally, any temps that you do not hire from the agency while they’re working with you are unlikely to return in the future. The staffing agency will place them at another business where they can continue the search for full-time employment. 

Staffing agencies let you take a hands-off approach, but offer little flexibility because of the contracts and commitments they require.

 

On-demand labor for talent sourcing

This newer option gives businesses direct access to local marketplaces of thousands of independent and professional workers. Using an on-demand labor platform, businesses have the ability to bring in a functionally unlimited number of workers for short commitments. This allows the business to quickly scale up and down based on actual daily needs. 

On-demand labor utilizes technologies to empower businesses to instantly manage their own flexible workforce without any third-party interactions. These platforms are accessible around the clock and provide tracking of worker performance. Features allow you to read reviews of an employee by other businesses and look into things like attendance reliability. 

There are also long-term benefits beyond a seasonal spike, because businesses can retain access to workers who have worked with them before. This means they can later bring in these trained workers only when they’re needed.

On-demand labor is not an outsourced option because it requires hands-on management and integration into current business processes. Building a network of flexible workers is a commitment that will take an up-front effort. Despite this, most businesses see returns very quickly. The costs of on-demand labor are simple and scale with your usage of the service. 

With on-demand labor, you pay for what you use, and then you don’t have to bring in workers until you need them again because there are no commitments to the platform. However, you can only reap the benefits of on-demand labor if you are willing to be involved in the process of building your network of flexible workers.

 

Are you ready to start seasonal hiring?

If you are ready to get more people in the doors to meet seasonal demand, the first step is to start implementing any or all of these four ways to compete. Keep in mind your budget, how quickly you want results, and what you are willing to invest time into implementing. These will be key factors in deciding which of these solutions you’ll actually benefit from.

If you want to find workers within days rather than weeks and don’t want to sign a contract committing to usage, read more about what on-demand labor is and how it can be your solution for seasonal hiring.

Carter Stanley

Written by Carter Stanley

Carter currently serves as Market Development and Operations Leader at Veryable. He has over 9 years experience in the manufacturing and distribution industries in both corporate finance and operations capacities. When not preaching the gospel of the benefits of On-Demand Labor he enjoys playing tennis, spending time with his family and is an avid Alabama fan!