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4 Things to Consider When Staffing for Peak Season

Holiday time is fast approaching. Have you staffed up? Being able to handle increased customer volume during peak season can make or break your success during a very lucrative time. With greater general levels of employment in the marketplace, it may be challenging to find the right number of employees to do the job. Whether your peak season is during the holidays or the middle of summer, here are a few things you might consider.

Hiring for peak season

Seasonal Hiring is Deliberate. Start Planning Months in Advance

Preparing a staffing plan with enough time to line up each piece is essential. No matter your industry, you should give yourself a minimum six-month lead time before peak season begins. This allows for the time needed to define the desired skill sets, find the right number of employees, while adequately training them for what's ahead based on the types and levels of complexity of the customer journeys they will be assisting, and what they should and should not do. Defining these markers will heavily influence the type of talent you choose to bring on board.

Structure Where Seasonal Employees Fit in

Seasonal employees usually don't have the full skillset or experience that permanent employees do, and therefore require a different type of training. Typically, the training period for seasonal employees can be a certain percentage shorter than that of a regular full-time employee; in some of the recent examples that we've developed for our clients, training for temporary staff can be two-thirds the duration of a permanent employee. Because of this, it's important to be pragmatic when allocating work. Let your seasonal employees focus on low-hanging fruit and working on easier, volume-based questions. This way your permanent staff can focus on handling more of the higher level, complex questions that they are trained to answer.

Start an Employee Referral Program

Sometimes the hardest part of holiday hiring is outreach. How do you find the people you want to hire? Put together an employee referral program to help find new employees that will work well with your existing coworkers. Current employees will be grateful for any benefits you can offer and will be more inclined to help when questions arise. For additional outreach, work with an external recruiter to find more potential candidates.

Know Your Support Options

Always weigh your support options before taking the plunge. Adding in-house support may seem like the best option for your peak season, but there are so many factors to take into consideration.

For example, when you're hiring seasonally, it can hurt your local labor market since you're hiring staff and then letting them go. Take into consideration any associated costs that may come with hiring more in-house support, such as equipment and computers in-office. Usually, temporary employees are paid a premium because their learning curve is high and are only given a short period of time to work. When hiring more employees, will you also have to hire additional management staff? And what types of recruiting costs will you have because of it?

The caliber of work and employee needs during peak seasons can be a challenge. Initially, performance by new hires tends to be weaker which can weigh down the overall performance of your staff. Lack of support tends to be an issue, especially during onboarding support since newer employees will need more guidance when they are getting started.

Whether it's for the retail holiday season or just high-volume call times for your industry, adequately staffing up is crucial to building great customer experiences. When preparing for your peak season, a strong staffing plan can make all the difference.