For anyone working in human resources, or in a position where the hiring of employees falls squarely in their lap, planning for typical holiday times, such as Christmas, Summer and Easter can bring a slight feeling of discomfort (or mild dread), especially in today’s climate. Depending on the sector of your business, the peaks and troughs of demand will be different, but undoubtedly, during these more traditional holiday times, almost every business will feel the ramifications of the staffing squeeze at these times of year – especially if they have minimised their workforce over the last 18 months.
Throw on top of this, the unpredictability of the economy, an ongoing shortage of skills and the still unknown shape of ‘normal’ in this post-pandemic world, planning for potential staff shortages is more important than ever. Although an over-used expression, this phrase still rings loudly in many ears of those who are responsible for the recruitment in their business: ’fail to plan – plan to fail’.
The importance of investing in the wellbeing of your permanent employees
Crossing your fingers and hoping that your permanent members of staff will be delighted to be overstretched, during what can end up being quite a few weeks at a time, can bring a swathe of problems that are all avoidable – the most destructive being that staff morale will decline and employees will vote with their feet. You want your business to be a great place to work and to do this, you must ensure the welfare of your staff is seen as a high priority.
Ensuring your staff, be them permanent or temporary, feel valued is critical in today’s economy and again, a phrase we all know: ‘good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster’’ is highly apt when it comes to employee contentment. However, the good news is, that there are many ways in which you can create an effective framework that will make hiring temporary staff into your business a much easier and more successful process, but this takes an investment in time, albeit it a very worthwhile investment going forward.
How to create a temporary recruitment plan for holiday periods
Here are some pointers that can help you to create a plan for the forthcoming festive period (as well as other peak holiday times during the year) where not only holidays will have an impact, but also potential absence from illness:
#1 – Gain a clear understanding of each department’s predicted workload across the holiday period and beyond.
This sounds basic but is a very useful and insightful exercise. It is all too easy to assume that certain areas of a business may quieten down or conversely be under more pressure due to workload, but actually, the pressure is a result of lack of manpower.
Having a lack of manpower in a particular department, or area of the business, will undoubtedly have ramifications on other areas where perhaps it has not been predicted or communicated. If this is the case, pressure points will quickly become evident, especially if team members were granted holiday as the situation was not foreseen.
#2 – Confirm all booked holidays and map them against each department to see where manpower and skills may be under pressure.
Especially at this time of year where absenteeism from illness is likely. Mapping booked holidays against the predicted business demands, will start to create a clearer picture of where you could have pressure points within the business. How would a department cope if the demand increased, but they were running on skeleton staff?
#3 – Identify where extra temporary support is required once the ‘mapping exercise’ is complete.
Once the mapping exercise is completed, you should start to see where red flags could be raised within the business. Now is the time to start working out what type of temporary support will be required to ensure that you have a robust plan in place. Additionally, look at the ‘what ifs’ and create a simple backup plan that could encompass unplanned illness as best as possible.
#4 – Identify where workers skills could be transferable, and training could be given to existing members of staff.
If certain parts of the business are highly likely to be quiet, could some workers with transferable skills be given the training to work within another department? Encouraging teams to collaborate and communicate could not only level out the workloads but also give existing staff the chance to learn new skills and gain a good understanding of another part of the business.
#5 – Gain a clear picture of what temporary support is needed and for how long they will be required.
If approached properly, the cross-skilling of existing workers is often a very positive solution and is also good from a longer-term perspective. However, invariably, a hole will be left in manpower (a bit like the Chinese puzzle where you move around the tiles), and this is where you need to decide what type of temporary support you may require.
If you have several ‘pressure points’, it makes sense to bring in consistent temporary support that covers all of these times. Continuity for the temporary worker and the team(s) they are working with, will far outweigh the inconvenience of chopping and changing. Again, with good planning, the temporary worker could help in various areas of the business and be given training whilst working, so they can support in more than one department.
Likewise, if you know that there is a strong possibility of absenteeism due to illness (potentially after the Christmas breaks), it would be wise to hold on to your temporary worker for as long as possible to ensure all eventualities are covered, before ‘normality’ is due to recommence.
You will have much more success in gaining the temporary worker’s commitment if you can give them definite start and end dates along with a good hourly remuneration; if your business can afford the additional support for a longer period of time, it will help the temporary worker plan ahead rather than reviewing week by week. However, this being said, everybody’s circumstances are different, and a weekly rolling basis may suit some temporary workers better.
What are the consequences of not hiring temporary staff during these times?
If you are unsure about hiring a temporary member of staff to support the business, the best way to look at it is to look at the potential consequences of not doing it…the pressure it may put on the rest of the team and the effect this will have on them. Additionally, how may this translate through to customers through service and communication?
There are many things to consider, but the bottom line is planning and if there are potential negative consequences to being under-resourced, our advice would be to start the hiring process as soon as possible.
Best ways to hire temporary workers
There are different ways in which you could look for someone to work for your business on a temporary basis – but one of the main deciding factors on the approach you may take will probably be based on the time and resources you have available.
Using social media and job boards may reap rewards, but there is stiff competition, particularly during holiday periods, so the low response rates could eat up valuable weeks and time that will ultimately end up with you having to pursue other avenues.
You may be lucky enough to have permanent members of staff who know someone that could be suitable, we class these as referrals. It is always nice to have someone referred to your business, however, do be mindful that you still need to look at their suitability to the role that you need them to fulfil, as it’s easy to be blinded by the ease of acquiring them versus the correct matching of their skills or abilities.
Temporary recruitment agencies
If you do not normally use agencies to hire staff, this may be the time where you decide it is the logical and most efficient thing to do. A good temporary recruitment agency will work in partnership with you and after gaining a thorough understanding of your business needs, will be able to give you back the time and ultimately cost of finding someone yourself; you will only be paying the agreed hourly rate once the temporary staff start working for your business.
Agencies that specialise in temporary recruitment and are well-known in the market will attract the best workers in the area – they will be able to advise, guide and support you so that the whole process from beginning to end is professionally and empathetically managed so you can focus on your business and the busy lead-up to the holiday period.
Speak to The Recruitment Consultancy
We are a team of experienced recruitment consultants, who not only deliver results but save businesses time, resource, stress and cost. We do the work for you, ensuring the temporary workers we supply have the right skills, competencies and experience to suit your business requirements.
Find out more about our expert temporary recruitment solutions across Sussex & Surrey. Alternatively, get in touch to see how we can help.