Hiring Holiday Help for Your Small Business

Disposable personal income is climbing and consumer confidence levels are staying high across the U.S.

According to Deloitte's Retail & Distribution practice, retailers this year might see holiday sales growth of as much as 4.5 percent and E-commerce sales are expected to increase during the holiday season. As a result, small business owners should prepare for a robust holiday season.

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One important component of holiday preparations is to make sure you’ve hired enough employees to cover customer service, order fulfillment, inventory management, accounting tasks and more. Hiring the right employees for this important time can be a challenge. Review these areas to help make your holiday hiring easier.

Determine if You Do Need Additional Staffing

Look to your sales numbers from previous holiday seasons to forecast this year’s sales numbers. With a solid estimate, you can determine whether or not it makes financial sense to bring on short-term employees. You might be able to keep up with demand by scheduling current part-time employees for full-time shifts.  Make sure that additional salaries don’t crunch your cash flow and make it difficult to stay up with seasonal demands.

Determine the Type of Seasonal Employee You Need 

There are three general types of seasonal workers that you can hire to help out during your busy times. Review the details below to help you make a decision that’s right for your business.

  • Temporary Workers: These employees perform work on a temporary basis and are usually hired and paid through a staffing firm.
  • Contract Employees: Independent contractors provide their services on a contract basis. Some examples are publicity and marketing professionals, handymen, lawyers or freelance writers. Contract employees are generally more skilled than temp workers. To save on overhead, some contract jobs can be handled remotely.
  • Part-Time Workers: Part-time workers are great candidates to fill seasonal needs. If their schedules permit, it’s easy enough to add hours when you have a surge in business.

Sourcing Employees

There are a variety of ways to search for solid seasonal employees. Here are a few cost effective strategies to locate the best candidates.

  • Personal referrals are one of the best ways to find reliable employees. Ask current employees, customers, friends and family if they know a go-getter who is seeking a holiday job.
  • Social media is a strong way to organically reach potential employees without spending money. If you have a presence across social media channels, post an announcement using appropriate job search hashtags. Don’t forget to mention the location so you won’t waste time sifting through candidates out of your area.
  • Facebook Instead of just putting up a regular post in your newsfeed on Facebook, you can use a free feature recently rolled out. This article from TIME has all of the information you need to know about this new capability: How to Use Facebook's New Job Search Feature
  • Local Colleges or Trade Schools Most schools have a job placement office to help students find opportunities or set graduates on a path to employment. Contact your local schools guidance or career center to discuss your needs and how to reach available candidates.

Paying Seasonal Employees

Part-time and seasonal employees are subject to the same tax withholding rules that apply to other employees. For information on your tax responsibility as an employer, visit this page on the IRS website: Part Time or Seasonal Help.

Training is Key

Small businesses need to maintain quality service during busy times when competition for consumer dollars is high. A staff member who is unfamiliar with your products or services can quickly turn consumers off. Even returning seasonal employees may need a refresher training session to keep skills sharp and product knowledge on point.

Once you have a seasonal team in place, visit the SmartBiz Small Business Blog for more information about team building, employee management and other information to help stay on track.