As we tick over into the Autumn and Winter months, it is that time again that big retailers will be starting to hire thousands of additional staff to cope with the higher consumer demand in the run up to Xmas.
E-tailers are likely to take a big piece of the pie again this year, which will still mean large temporary employment, just in the distribution and warehouse rather than on the traditional shop floor which is predicted to just be in line with previous years.
Again, this is likely to be skewed towards younger workers who are more comfortable with juggling multiple jobs and seasonal work to fit in with their education.
The question is, how do you attract the right employees?
There has been a lot of recent negative press about ‘Zero hours contracts’, where the employer does not guarantee the worker any hours of work but does not allow them to seek other employment. Unsurprisingly these contracts are unpopular with employees especially for those with financial commitments.
Employers like these contracts because of the flexibility they allow without committing the business to ongoing cost. However there are better alternatives that may be more attractive to those looking for seasonal work.
Christmas retail employment: what are the options?
Every business is different and the strains on resources are likely to come at different times depending on where it sits in the retail cycle. Wholesalers may already be experiencing recruitment issues whereas retailers might just be starting to advertise for staff. Regardless of the type of business, the options are similar.
You could offer existing employees overtime over the period. This would ensure that you keep the standard of work high without the need for training new people Annual hours contracts could provide flexibility while allowing your cost base to remain steady throughout the year. For example, an employee may work extra hours over the Christmas period and then have time off at a quiet time in the year. This can help the business cope with peaks and troughs and allow the employee regular income to budget for payment of bills.
More desirable alternative to zero hours are “call-down” contracts. The main difference being that the employee is not committed to being available and can work for others.
This removes the worst aspect of zero hours requiring the worker to be available with the risk that the employee may be left with no opportunity to work. From the business perspective, a larger pool of call-down workers is desired in case some are unavailable.
Obviously you always have the choice of temporary workers or agency staff, both which have advantages and disadvantages. Temporary staff are flexible and not a fixed ongoing cost, however companies do need to consider the workers statutory rights and be careful to comply with living wage and minimum wage regulations. Agency staff are traditionally expensive but can be even more flexible and employment rights are dealt with by the agent. Both of these options do come with a risk of low experienced workers in the business and inevitably some training requirements. With consumer experience and care extremely important, it may be an option you would rather avoid.
How to make sure you are hiring in the right way?
This will vary from business to business. Menzies LLP has specialists to help you with every aspect of this challenge and we will be delighted to chat this through with you.