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Korn Ferry and Hay Group report on retail in festive season

How retail sector employers manage staff in the busy holiday season

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With 90% of retailers planning for holiday season sales performance up to 10% better than last year, two-thirds (67%) are hiring more seasonal staff in 2015 than they did last year.

This new study by Korn Ferry’s Hay Group business finds despite mixed reaction from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retailers have increased inventory levels and have hired more staff.

A majority (83%) of seasonal hires in 2015 are expected to be in stores.

Employers are also placing emphasis on more experienced candidates, with 19% of them looking for in-store experience in 2015, up from only 12% in 2014.

Retailers are also onboarding more seasoned holiday workers, with employers indicating that 57% of seasonal employees hired this year have two or more years of experience, compared to 27% in 2014.

Craig Rowley, Hay Group’s global retail practice leader, explained the additional holiday hires will help retailers improve the in-person customer experience and drive sales across all channels.

However, as with most hiring plans, the going is not expected to be easy, with 76% of retailers indicating challenges in recruiting appropriate talent.

Heading into the 2015 holiday season, more than a third (38%) of retailers said their current in-store staffing levels were already below average.

In response, they are thinking of long-term solutions, with 63% saying they plan to hire at least one-tenth of their seasonal employees on a full-time basis after the holidays.

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Yet, nearly one third (29%) of retailers indicate they have received fewer applicants for seasonal positions this year than in 2014.

A possible reason could be the increased pressure on retail minimum wages — 72% of retailers say they recruited at higher wage levels this year than last year.

To get qualified candidates in the door, retailers are offering a host of incentives including employee discounts (43%), providing more flexible schedules (14%) and promising increased hours (10%).

Rowley added: “Retailers should brace for a more limited supply of experienced seasonal workers and should tailor their recruitment strategies to suit an ever-more competitive holiday hiring environment.”

Image: Shutterstock

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