Seasonal Hiring in the Face of a Pandemic
The outlook for the 2020 holiday season and Black Friday is expected to be different than anything businesses, consumers and employees have ever seen before. Over the past year, the economy and employment market has had to cope with tumultuous disruptions and voluminous changes in customer demand. With unprecedented unpredictability, COVID-19 has challenged retailers, supply chain and logistics, even as millions of workers attempt to secure their employment in the midst of a fluctuating jobs market.
While the limitations of the pandemic probably won’t be making a dent in putting a stop to the massive sales and demand for deliveries this year, they do seem to affect the supply of workers in surprising ways.
Predicting This Year’s Consumer Trends
Each year, seasonal hiring is primarily influenced by consumer trends. The number of workers employed temporarily for the holiday season is derived from the expected amount of sales, delivery and services.
Of course, this number changes year by year according to financial, economic and personal consumer trends. While businesses can’t know the exact amount of workers they will need to hire, they can make estimated guesses based on previous year statistics and staying up to date with intelligent insights into the upcoming year’s incoming trends.
Covid-19 has certainly had a negative impact on everyone’s bottom lines. But, interestingly enough, it has also led to an increase in sales and shopping, especially via online supply and delivery sites. In-store holiday shopping has seen a major transition to virtual platforms over the years, but this year may have hit the peak. Coronavirus limitations and protocols may have put a damper on in-store visits, but consumers are flocking to online sites at numbers bigger than ever.
Combined with reports of the job market starting to slowly recover, it seems that we can count on consumer trends being just as high this year, if not higher.
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Twist in Current Workforce Trends
Recent events have caused an upheaval in the employment market, and in accordance with that trend, seasonal job postings are down by around 11% for 2020. While the slight decrease of opportunities may come as no surprise, there is an unexpected twist in the seasonal employment trend this year.
The number of people looking for seasonal employment has declined. This year, the amount of individuals applying for seasonal jobs has dropped off by around 38%, reports the Washington Post.
It seems that there are more available positions for seasonal work than there are interested workers. Postings for Warehousing and Logistics for example have increased week by week, reaching a 669% increase in employment opportunities since the beginning of March.
With millions still unemployed, how can there be so many unanswered job postings and opportunities? Much of the decline can be attributed to concerns revolving around the pandemic: health and safety issues, fears and precautions. Many individuals whose children have not yet returned to their fully daily routine have reported not having the proper childcare support at home. Others still are adamant to secure a full-time, permanent position instead of temporary.
While reports this year have been of dying markets, the economy is finally starting to grow stronger. Covid-19 has increased an already booming surge in online consumerism; meanwhile, over 12 million jobs have already been recovered according to CNBC.
Major Shift in Power
The high demand from consumers and low supply of workers has caused a huge shift in power: companies are now competing with one another in order to attract seasonal workers.
In order to avoid staffing snags and scheduling mishaps, companies got an early start with hiring seasonal workers this year. However, Business Insider reports that 47% of the major retailers are having trouble hiring seasonal workers for the holidays.
For recruiting companies, this could mean losing massive business opportunity. We saw UPS back in 2017 spending $125 million just to reduce shipping delays after an enormous and unexpected demand for Thanksgiving orders (AP News).
But with so many available opportunities and a much smaller pool of interested workers, companies this year are taking another direction in order to counter the abrupt shift in consumer and workforce trends. They are offering higher wages and more perks for new employees.
Major retailers have been advised to step up their pay and benefits in order to compete with other recruiting companies. Target, Walmart and Best Buy have increased their hourly minimum wages to $15; UPS is willing to boost hourly pay to between $15 and $30, an attractive number for people who are out of work and looking.
The Future of the Seasonal Workforce
While it would be remiss to ignore the fluctuating and negative effects of the pandemic outbreak on the economy and job market, Covid-19 did bring with it new and unexpected opportunities.
With such a great rise in consumer demand and employment opportunities, we may begin to see an increased trend of new jobs and functions created specifically in the aftermath of Covid-19. Safety positions, team leadership roles, reinforcement staff and others will become the norm in the newly recruited workforce.
In addition, we can expect to see many temporary positions becoming permanent or extended due to an ongoing, upward trend in consumer shopping and demand that brings with it a need for a larger, more available and more flexible workforce.