Holiday Staffing: How This Year Is Different

November 16, 2023

by Carrie Bradfield

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With Diwali last week and U.S. Thanksgiving next week, it’s fair to say the 2023 holiday season is in full swing! It’s been a rollercoaster few years for retail, hasn’t it? Each holiday season has brought unique challenges and surprises since the pandemic’s onset. This year is no different, with a fresh set of dynamics in play. Read on to learn what to consider when planning your holiday staffing strategy this year.

Retail Market Predictions

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts a festive season of record spending, anticipating retail sales to increase by 3% to 4% over last year. In addition, a survey conducted by Deloitte shows that consumers are planning to spend more than even pre-pandemic levels.

Despite the ongoing challenges of high inflation, stringent credit conditions, and elevated interest rates, the average household remains on relatively solid financial footing. Consumers haven’t depleted their pandemic savings as much as previously thought, providing a cushion to support spending during this period.

However, there’s a disconnect between spending and confidence when looking at consumer behavior. Despite worries about inflation and high interest rates, spending has been resilient. One reason for that is the strong labor market. Job gains, while slowing, haven’t plummeted. This steady employment growth, coupled with continued wage increases, fuels consumer spending.

Changes In Holiday Staffing Strategies

That growth in the labor market also explains some hiring practices we’re seeing in the retail market. In reaction to the challenging job market over the past years, many retailers have been constantly recruiting, using this opportunity to look at their hiring practices strategically. The population of part-timers hired throughout the summer and autumn may see increased hours and additional cross-training to get through the holiday season. Supplementing with hiring seasonal workers ensures retailers have enough hands on deck to provide excellent customer service and handle the holiday rush without overextending their labor costs.

With the continued growth of online shopping, delivery, and curbside pickup sales, there’s a shift in the types of roles required. Retailers need to hire and train employees for these omnichannel functions in addition to the traditional in-store roles.

Tips for Holiday Staffing

The role of workforce management (WFM) and automated scheduling tools like Legion is clear regarding the needs of holiday scheduling in this new labor landscape. Here are a few things to consider with your WFM practices:

  1. Additional Hours: When you have additional hours you need to schedule, consider offering those hours to your current staff as additional hours to pick up. Many people are looking for ways to pick up a shift here and there through the holiday season to earn money for their gift-giving.
  2. Faster Pay: Give your hourly employees a way to get paid the same day for the shift they work through InstantPay! It’s a win-win—your shifts are more likely to get filled faster, and employees will be happier.
  3. Leverage Forecasting: Focus on the areas of greatest opportunity. The use of intelligent automation to forecast your holiday sales and traffic will make sure you deploy the right staff at the right time. Bonus: Use Employee Recognition and Rewards as a way to identify some of your best workers and get them into those peak-time shifts!
  4. Communicate Well: Spread some holiday cheer! Get your team members excited about upcoming events, promotions, and holiday spirit with newsfeed posts in your internal communications platform to drive engagement and interaction. Bonus: Use that newsfeed to remind students to update their availability as classes wrap up at the end of the semester so they can get more shifts!

To wrap it up and put a bow on it, this holiday season is about smart, strategic holiday staffing combined with maximizing your existing staff. It’s about finding the right balance between having enough staff to capitalize on the expected sales surge while being mindful of the broader economic environment.

Retailers will likely focus on flexible, skilled workers who can adapt to the evolving needs of the retail sector, including the growing importance of online shopping and customer service. To learn more about how Legion Workforce Management Software can help with your holiday scheduling, request a demo now.