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Greeno: Seasonal hiring can help keep businesses strong for 4Q

Seasonal hiring is already in full swing for some businesses. Amazon recently announced plans to hire 70,000 seasonal workers this quarter, a 40 percent boost from last year, according to Entrepreneur.

So far in 2013, more than 7,000 temporary workers Amazon employees have become full-time permanent employees. Target plans to hire 70,000 seasonal workers, however, that is down from 88,000 in 2012, according to Fortune. Toys R Us will bring on 45,000 workers this year, about the same as 2012. Other major retailers like Walmart will increase their workforce by 10 percent or more to keep up with the upswing in business and the opening of 110 new stores so far this year. 

Retail sales are expected to rise. While some industry experts expect retail sales to decline slightly from last year, others such as the Deloitte consulting firm are forecasting as much as 4.5 percent  growth overall. Since the national financial collapse there have been four years of increases in holiday hiring. Still, many Americans are unemployed or underemployed causing consumers to remain uneasy, as evidenced by wide monthly mood swings in confidence surveys.

A Thomson/Reuters/University of Michigan report in September found consumer sentiment dipped to its lowest level since April, after a six-year high in August. Such mood swings shake hiring confidence.

Yet, there still are bright spots.

Retailers aren’t the only businesses anticipating growth in the fourth quarter. Industries such as hospitality are expected to see an increase in sales. Companies such as FedEx and UPS have also ramped up their holiday hiring. Snagajob, an online job board for hourly positions, recently released a survey focused on managers tasked with hiring temporary year-end workers. The results showed holiday hiring is up 6 percent from 2012, with 69 percent of hiring managers reporting they will hire additional help for the season.

The holidays impact everyone. Of course, every company and industry is unique, but most businesses can greatly benefit from hiring seasonal staff. Hiring starts in October with the shopping season kicking off on Black Friday and ending with Christmas. This year retailers have 25 days for seasonal sales, down from 31 last year.

Those in retail and hospitality are the most likely to see their business increase and are in greater need for extra help. Whether it’s a caterer needing extra wait staff for all the holiday events, a local boutique needing a few extra hands to help wrap gifts, or a hotel preparing for an influx of travelers, utilizing temporary workers will enable companies to meet the increased demand and keep customers happy.

For other businesses, the holiday season may not necessarily hold a spike in demand for their goods or services, but an increase in absent employees instead. Most people want to spend extra time with family and friends during this time of year, and that may come at the expense of work projects and end-of-the-year deadlines. Bolstering your staff with temporary workers early in the quarter can help ensure your core staff can have time away from work without causing your business to suffer. Plus, if you’ve been considering hiring additional employees after the first of the year, it’s a great way to give some potential candidates a trial run. Remember, Amazon plans to hire thousands of its seasonal workers in full time positions at the end of the year.

Every business leader wants to end the year strong. To make that happen, you have to think ahead and make a plan now. One strategy to consider incorporating into your plan is seasonal hiring. Hundreds of businesses have utilized seasonal workers to help meet their goals and achieve a successful year, and what leader doesn’t want to do that?

• Terri Greeno owns Express Employment Professionals in Crystal Lake.

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