Amazon made headlines last year with its plans to hire 120,000 employees for the holidays, and other retailers weren’t far behind. This translates to seasonal workers having their pick of opportunities. A 2017 CareerBuilder study found that across industries, 35% of employers expected to hire seasonal workers in the fourth quarter and 38% of top holiday jobs were in customer service.

Retailers should begin workforce planning now, says Adam Godson, Vice President of Global Technology Solutions at Cielo, a strategic Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) partner. “Organizations must understand what internal and external resources are needed to execute their hiring needs. It can be easy to miscalculate the amount of resources it will take to interview and onboard all of the candidates before you need them to actually start helping customers,” he continues.

Once resources are determined, an additional step organizations can take to help fill holes is to train team members who are on a growth track so they can step in and help with certain tasks when necessary. Managers could then delegate interviews, for instance. This is a great way to create a stretch assignment for an employee who is looking for a growth opportunity.

Using current employees for this type of role also has the added benefit of possessing a good understanding of company culture – something you would not necessarily get by hiring a consultant, contractor or even temp workers.

Hiring a consultant or contractor for this type of role can be a risk: Using current employees who have a good understanding of company culture is beneficial during the hiring process—even when bringing in temp workers. And training is also essential so team members understand the questions they should be asking in order to obtain the type of information needed to make the right decisions.

Getting Candidates In

“Having enough qualified candidates to interview is often a barrier of holiday hiring,” Godson says, but “organizations can leverage data to help with determining ‘recommended’ candidates and increase the selection ratio.”

Once candidates are chosen, a self-scheduling interviewing tool can help push managers to candidates.

After candidates are selected, a seamless onboarding process is necessary when hundreds of new employees are being hired at the same time.

While some organizations may choose to cut out parts of onboarding to make it quicker, this can really backfire later on. A solid onboarding process will help decrease turnover.

And turnover should always be a consideration for workforce planning. Godson offers a simple ratio: If 50 employees are required for the holiday season, HR should hire 20 additional candidates to account for fallout.

Candidate Experience Counts

With competition at such a fever pitch, one thing organizations cannot lose sight of is providing a positive candidate experience. In other words, don’t forget about the human side of hiring. “Seasonal workers have tons of opportunities,” Godson says, “and if your hiring and onboarding processes are too slow, they’re going to go somewhere else.”

Here are some strategies Godson recommends that can keep them from leaving:

  • Make sure that technology is easy to use. For the majority of hourly workers, the only computer they own is their phone. This means organizations need to offer processes that can be done on that device. If not, potential hires will have to make a trip to use a desktop, and this creates a barrier that sometimes can’t be overcome.
  • Connect with candidates before the interview. When hiring a high volume of employees, organizations that take the time to reach out to the candidates prior to the in-person interviews will benefit. Hiring teams should conduct an engagement call in order to create a social contract in order to increase interview show rates. By engaging with the candidates, they show up and they understand the brand better.
  • Don’t leave managers out of the equation. Gaining access to the manager has clout with seasonal hires. Something as simple as sending out a welcome text message can vastly improve engagement and connectivity among holiday hires.

Organizations should also consider why each candidate is looking for seasonal work. Some view seasonal work as a gateway to a permanent position, while for others it’s an opportunity for extra cash. It’s important to have the right messaging for each of those groups.

And keeping seasonal workers on is quite common. CareerBuilder found that 70% of companies that were hiring for the holidays expected to retain some of their seasonal hires on board for full-time positions after the holiday season. For these workers, managers should let them know if a permanent position is a possibility early – even in December – to keep those workers engaged.

This post originally appeared as articles in HRO Today written by Debbie Bola. Follow Adam Godson on Twitter @AdamGodson or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Learn more about how Cielo helps organizations with seasonal hiring in “Reimagining Hourly Hiring: Quality at Scale.”