Hiring in July: Why Christmas hiring should come early

Christmas time signals peak shopping season, and is also when many retailers have the highest demand for casual staff to bolster their workforce.

For human resources and hiring managers, the key is starting early to ensure staffing needs are met for the busiest period of the year.

Women and children’s fashion chain Bardot and Bardot Junior hires about 250 extra casuals to help staff its 97 stores across Australia during Christmas.

Nerissa Susman, Human Resources Manager – Stores, says Bardot starts planning Christmas hiring as soon as in July “and it flows from there” to meet the demands of the holiday season.

Supply and demand

As competition from other retailers for Christmas casuals can be intense, it is important for retailers to begin recruitment for peak periods early.

In preparation, forecasting the likely demand for each store, based on previous experience is a clear first step. It’s also crucial to start advertising and interviewing early to get contracts out to successful candidates in time to secure the best available staff.

Bardot advertises for Christmas casuals on its website and on jobsites such as SEEK, but many of those hired are its own customers who are “quite passionate about the brand”.

“A lot of our casual recruitment does come from people resume-dropping in stores. It’s literally people who have seen a sign in the window when they’ve been shopping and got excited and come back,” Susman says.

Availability a challenge

One of the bigger challenges for retailers recruiting for casual staff is securing staff with availability over the Christmas and New Year period.

Some candidates may think that being a Christmas casual means working only on Boxing Day, but retailers require staff in the lead up to Christmas, as well as during the days between Christmas and New Year.

“We do try and book them in early,” says Susman. “It’s definitely a question that we ask during the recruitment process to get all the holidays locked down so we know what we’re in for before we make an offer to a candidate.”

Transition to permanent roles

Christmas casuals can help develop a pipeline of long-term casual team members and potentially full-time team members for retailers.

Managers should consider conducting reviews with Christmas casual staff during the holiday period to assess who could be suitable for an ongoing casual or part-time position.

This enables businesses to send offers and contracts to successful casuals prior to the end of their Christmas casual contract, making for a smooth transition to ongoing casual or part-time roles.

Susman says Bardot has a lot of longstanding casual team members, because they are well treated.

“We do have some great training and development for our casual team members which keeps them engaged, which is great,” she says.

“We also have other incentives – things that we call Super Sellers. If our staff make a sale over a certain amount, they’ll be rewarded with vouchers and things like that.”

Susman says many of the chain’s store managers started out as casuals, demonstrating the importance of succession planning to the company. “I love it when we can progress a casual onto a part-time role or an assistant store manager role,” she says.

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Christopher Niesche

Christopher Niesche is a finance and business specialist with two decades of journalism experience, including as deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review. Christopher started his career at The Australian, before becoming New Zealand bureau...

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