As the festive season approaches, companies are gearing up for the anticipated surge in demand by hiring additional staff. For instance, Amazon India has already announced the creation of over 100,000 seasonal job opportunities across various Indian cities in preparation for the festive period.
Ideally, businesses would operate at a consistent pace throughout the year. However, demand fluctuations are inevitable in many industries, leading to distinct peak and slow seasons. The retail and hospitality sectors particularly experience a surge in profitability during the holiday season, presenting a significant revenue-generating opportunity. Despite having a competent team, the current workforce and shift rotations may struggle to manage the heightened workload.
Adding more employees may seem like the initial solution to cope with increased demand, but this may not be a sustainable long-term strategy. Moreover, it can lead to stress and overload for the existing team. Often, the reflexive approach is to hire during busy periods and lay off employees when business slows down. However, this practice is neither beneficial nor productive in the long run.
To address this challenge, we interviewed industry experts to explore more effective alternatives to festive hiring, aiming to avoid the cycle of hiring and firing associated with seasonal demands.
Utilising a seasonal staffing strategy involves bringing in individuals specifically for particular times of the year when demand peaks. These hires, often categorised as contract or seasonal employees, can work either part-time or full-time hours during these busy periods. Typically, they include students seeking temporary employment, retirees looking for extra income, individuals in transitional job phases, or those aiming to supplement their earnings with an additional job.
“By strategically employing seasonal staff, businesses can efficiently manage workload fluctuations while providing job opportunities to those seeking short-term engagements. It's a win-win scenario that not only supports the company's operational needs during peak times but also offers flexibility to the workforce and boosts local economies,” suggested Sobha Rani, Chief Operating Officer, The Indian Garage Company.
Efficient resource allocation is crucial to smoothly navigate the holiday season and prevent layoffs. Implementing data-driven scheduling tools is key to achieving this objective, leveraging historical data and market trends for insights. These advanced tools empower you to make informed decisions regarding staffing levels, aligning them accurately with anticipated customer or client demand.
“By conducting a thorough analysis of past holiday seasons and real-time data, you can dynamically adjust your workforce as per the evolving requirements, mitigating the risk of overstaffing. Overstaffing can lead to unnecessary labor costs, potentially resulting in layoffs if demand falls short of projections. Therefore, the utilization of data-driven scheduling not only optimizes labor allocation but also enhances overall operational efficiency, a vital aspect during this bustling holiday period,” stated Dr Ganesh Nikam, Managing Director and CEO at Biojobz.
In today's corporate landscape, a strategic focus on the human element within human resources is paramount. This necessitates a thoughtful approach to hiring, particularly during periods of economic prosperity. Companies must resist the allure of offering inflated salaries in a rush to assemble a workforce for long-term sustainability. It's crucial to recognize that individuals who are generously compensated without possessing corresponding skills may become vulnerable during challenging times.
“Promoting a culture that cherishes prudent hiring practices goes beyond fortifying organizational resilience; it underscores the essence of humanity in preserving jobs even in the face of adversity. By carefully considering not just the immediate needs but the long-term viability of roles within the company, organizations can ensure a harmonious balance between financial prudence and sustainable growth, fostering a stable and skilled workforce,” advised Kamalika Bhattacharya, CEO and Co-founder, QuoDeck.
Engaging an outsourced agency to recruit contract employees offers the advantage of tapping into a pool of already trained and skilled individuals. This approach guarantees that essential business processes remain seamlessly in motion without any gaps or disruptions. “It's a strategic move that not only bolsters the workforce during critical periods but also contributes to operational efficiency and productivity, ensuring the continuity of business operations,” said Sobha Rani.
Establishing a corporate culture rooted in the principles of security, transparency, and unwavering honesty is not just desirable but an essential need for contemporary businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic, a period of immense uncertainty and challenge, witnessed extraordinary acts of leadership. Many leaders opted to reduce their own compensation packages to ensure job security for their workforce. These selfless actions underscore a deep-rooted commitment to the well-being of employees.
However, when such measures fall short, it becomes the responsibility of leadership to engage in direct and transparent dialogues with their employees. “Open conversations that candidly address the organization's challenges are crucial. During moments of crisis, nurturing a culture where employees feel valued and well-informed can provide a sense of stability amid the prevailing uncertainty,” said Kamalika Bhattacharya.
She further explained that providing employees with choices, such as the option for voluntary pay cuts, can alleviate the impact and stress compared to the stark reality of unemployment. Such alternatives demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a strong and cohesive workforce while navigating difficult circumstances.”
Securing the commitment of seasonal hires beyond the holiday season is a crucial aspect of ensuring a stable and consistent workforce over the long term. One effective strategy is to implement employee retention programs and incentives, designed to encourage these temporary hires to consider a more permanent role within your organization.
Offering performance-based bonuses, recognition schemes, or avenues for career advancement can significantly boost employee engagement and retention rates. These incentives create an attractive work environment for seasonal employees by showcasing the potential for ongoing growth and rewards. When seasonal hires perceive the possibility of a meaningful career path within the organization, they are more inclined to stay on, reducing turnover rates.
“A stable and engaged workforce translates to a reduced need for layoffs, as the organisation can rely on a consistent team rather than constantly recruiting and training new employees. Additionally, the experience and knowledge gained by seasonal hires who transition into longer-term roles can substantially enhance overall productivity and customer satisfaction,” said Dr Ganesh Nikam.