How to find quality long-term staff from seasonal recruitment

17 Oct 2022
The busy festive season is looming, so it’s time for employers to start recruiting temporary seasonal staff. But how do you find the right people, and fast? Julie Graham, CEO of Ingeus’s Employment Services, reveals how to tap into a treasure trove of talent that could benefit your business this Christmas and beyond.

A job is for life, not just for Christmas – or at least, it could be! With the festive season just around the corner, employers will no doubt be launching recruitment drives to find those all-important temporary seasonal workers. Traditionally, many businesses see a surge in demand over Christmas – particularly those in the retail and hospitality sector, and the warehousing and logistics industries. 

I often hear from employers that it can be a challenge to recruit seasonal staff. Job vacancies are currently at an all-time high as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic. So finding the right candidates can be tricky – and that’s where employers need to rethink their strategies, cast the net wider and reach a more diverse set of people. 

Its not just about using traditional recruitment models but reaching out to Employment Service Providers, such as Ingeus, who work with many people who don’t always use these methods to find a job. Additionally, there’s a whole tranche of missing workers who are economically inactive. Some of these will have retired early, perhaps after losing their job during the pandemic, or be experiencing long-term ill health. As the cost-of-living crisis bites, they might be keen to return to work to help make ends meet. Many young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) have simply fallen off the radar. All they need is for an employer to take a chance on them and give them a foot in the door. 

The missing workforce also includes single parents with childcare responsibilities; unpaid carers looking after loved ones; people with disabilities and other health conditions, and former offenders looking to change their lives for the better. There are many different circumstances that people find themselves in – but with the right support from employers, they can thrive.

Speed up the process
Employers may need to rethink and proactively disrupt their recruitment processes. When you’re urgently seeking temporary staff to cover the busy Christmas period, there is little time for long-winded entry processes, three-stage interviews, and laborious background checks. If you want to get people into work, and quickly, then you need to streamline your thinking. Do you really need to arrange multiple lengthy in-person interviews when a quick phone or Teams call would be just as effective?

A new approach: open hiring
One example of a different approach is Open Hiring – a model pioneered by New York social enterprise Greyston Bakery to reach a wider and more diverse talent pool. We’re working with cosmetics and skincare retailer The Body Shop on their Open Hiring programme, which has been rolled out to the UK and beyond after a successful pilot in North Carolina. The Open Hiring model sees The Body Shop recruiting entry-level employees on a first come, first served basis. All they need to do is answer three questions to prove their eligibility for the role. If they answer ‘yes’ to all three questions, they’ve got the job! 

A job for life…
When the Christmas rush is over, and the tinsel and twinkly lights are back in the attic, what becomes of your temporary seasonal staff? Well, they’ve got some useful experience for their CV and perhaps a glowing reference. Maybe they grew into their role so effectively that they’d be the perfect fit for a permanent position? Plus, you’ll find that by adopting more inclusive recruitment policies, you’ll attract long-term staff that will show their gratitude by rewarding you with their loyalty. When employees feel valued and respected, they go the extra mile.

We recently shared a case study about our participant Jim Gleeson, who was referred to the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme delivered by Ingeus in the North West. Jim, 56, from Cumbria, had experienced depression for more than 30 years, which had led to him losing his job as a carer. Although he was able to carry out some voluntary work, he struggled to find paid employment. With the help of JETS, Jim secured a temporary role at a retail store – and he’s since been taken on permanently! It’s so heartening to read that Jim now wakes up looking forward to work every morning! 

Improve accessibility 
Creating an accessible workplace is vital if you are to recruit and retain people with life barriers. Make sure your workplace is disability friendly and be ready to adapt the environment and working practices to accommodate your staff and their individual needs. For example, transport could be an issue for some people, so consider supporting your staff by offering cycle-to-work schemes or promoting car-share initiatives.

Be flexible 
There are many talented people who are left out of the labour market because they have childcare duties and other responsibilities that prevent them from working nine to five. Consider flexible shift patterns that help people fit their work around these caring responsibilities. You could offer shorter shifts to provide more flexibility. This would not only be good news for parents and carers. People with health conditions, for example, may also benefit from a shorter working day – and be more productive as a result.

Look for transferable skills
Keep an open mind when considering potential candidates. Don’t insist on traditional qualifications and relevant work experience or you’ll be narrowing your options down dramatically. Instead, keep an eye out for candidates with the enthusiasm and aptitude to succeed. Maybe they’ve never had a paid job before but have done voluntary work or supported family and friends. The experience they gained is no less valid. 

Sweeten the deal
If you’re in the retail or hospitality sector, the chances are you’re in competition with plenty of other businesses as you search for seasonal staff. How can you stand out from your competitors and make your workplace the most attractive option? Offer incentives, bonuses, freebies, and other sweeteners to make people want to work for you. Get into the Christmas spirit early, and you’ll reap the rewards!

If you’re an employer reading this and want to find out more, Ingeus offer free recruitment services and can line up the talented staff you need for Christmas, and beyond:


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