Retailers Scramble to Attract Workers Before the Holidays

The current labor shortage within the United States is still having a significant impact on retail businesses, especially when it comes to their busy seasons. Now many organizations are experiencing labor shortage effects on their workforces as they scramble to attract workers in time for the holidays.

The labor shortage has had an especially strong influence on stores and retail businesses. According to the July 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, employment in retail trade was down by 270,000 since February 2020. With the labor shortage in full swing and the holiday season approaching, many retail business owners are worried about attracting enough workers to meet customer demand.

Read on to learn the best practices for retail employers who are hiring for the holidays. This article will explain how retail business leaders can secure the staff necessary to support their stores through planning, assessing workforce needs, and attracting quality seasonal employees.



Timely Planning is Key for Holiday Staffing

One of the most crucial ways a business manager can secure qualified staff members in time for their store’s busy seasons is to plan ahead. Managers and staffers should always plan for labor ahead of time, as waiting until the holiday season approaches to start hiring will not allow them enough time to secure and adequately train the temporary staff they require.

If you onboard new staff members as the holiday season begins, those new employees will not possess the training necessary for their role, making them unprepared to carry out the duties required of them. In addition, as there is more business demand during the store’s busy holiday season, existing staff members will likely need more time to train the new workers properly.

Furthermore, the holiday season is often considered to be a busy time for many different types of retail businesses. Therefore, new and seasonal workers are being sought after by multiple companies and are hired quickly. This means that attracting workers that are experienced, reliable, and qualified can become more difficult as the holiday season approaches.

Biggest Holiday Staffing Challenges Faced By Retail Employers

The current labor shortage has severely affected businesses within the past few years, and several critical aspects are becoming a significant problem for retailers.

Competing with large retailers is only part of the battle in the tight labor market. Factors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, like vaccine-or-test requirements, can also make attracting staff members difficult. Additionally, planning is not always an easy task for employers, as it can be difficult to forecast the demand required in upcoming months.

Still, the best practices for retail organizations should always involve planning ahead and onboarding extra seasonal staff to provide support during busy seasons. Irregular staffing practices that do not account for holiday busy periods often leave businesses struggling when demand increases.

How to Determine Your Workers Needs

According to a recent BLS report, the average retail employee turnover rate in the United States is around 60%. This high rate reflects the retail industry’s difficulty with sourcing and retaining quality staff members.

Of course, many reasons can be attributed to the difficulties that retailers face with employee retention. Retailers are struggling to keep their workers as members of their workforce teams due to factors like employee burnout, feeling unappreciated, or feeling undervalued due to their compensation.

The common reasons why many retailers struggle to keep their employees become amplified by the high demand for talent within this industry. As more and more businesses become desperate to hire new employees to fill their open positions, workers can become more selective about the positions they choose to take. Due to the stiff competition between hiring retail businesses, retail workers are left with an abundance of employment opportunities, leading to them being more discernible in the workplace they choose.

How to Attract Seasonal Holiday Workers

If you are looking to source new seasonal staff members for your retail business, there are certain obstacles that you will need to overcome to attract quality employees. First, seasonal retail workers are in high demand, especially in the holiday season. In order to compete with the large retailers seeking the attention of the majority of the available workforce, you should aim to attract workers by offering a variety of incentives to new job candidates, and providing employee perks that will keep your current staff members interested.

The sections below include some key factors that small retail business leaders should consider when sourcing new talent to join their company workforce during the holiday season.


A critical aspect that job seekers look for in a potential position is flexibility. Workers seeking positions in the retail industry have many choices available, meaning they can place emphasis on their own needs when considering roles.

Hourly employees often desire flexibility in the workplace, as they want to know that their employing business cares for their needs and is willing to work with them to implement a work schedule that will be mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, that means that rigid scheduling and rules are less likely to land you a quality job candidate!

Therefore, aim to advertise – and practice – a work atmosphere that encourages understanding and flexibility toward your workers. While this can be difficult during the busy holiday season, communicating with staff about their scheduling requirements ahead of time will enable you to establish a schedule that accounts for their needs.

Fair Compensation

Retail workers are going to look for open positions that provide more benefits to them in the form of payment and perks for their hard work and effort. Therefore, providing your employees fair compensation is necessary to attract new workers and retain existing ones.

In order to determine what “fair compensation” would be, consider looking at the rates offered for similar open positions in your area. Determining the average rate for similar seasonal retail jobs around your location can help you figure out a “competitive” compensation rate. This competitive pay should be equal to or better than the average rate offered for a similar position in the same general location.

Clear Job Descriptions

Another thing that workers appreciate when considering open positions is the job description. A job description is a detailed resource that explains the role offered so that readers can determine whether the job would be suitable for them.

It is essential to provide a clear job description for your open retail position, as this description should accurately represent your role. Doing so will enable potential candidates to understand exactly what the qualifications, duties, and requirements of the role would be. This ensures that any applicant is properly briefed in the details of the job, so you can source qualified talent for the role.

To create a clear job description, ensure that your description provides accurate information regarding the job that you are hiring for. This should include information about the job title, the position’s purpose, the worker’s duties, and any required or preferred qualifications. Additionally, providing background information about the company, the store location, and a realistic overview of the hourly or yearly compensation rate offered for the role will help you represent yourself as a transparent and honest employer.

Signing Bonuses

Another way to incentivize new workers to join your retail team is by providing signing bonuses. A signing bonus is a form of compensation that a business will provide to a new employee. This signing bonus is also commonly referred to as a sign-on bonus, and many employers utilize this as a way to attract the attention of potential job applicants.

During the holiday season, many retail companies seek out the help of additional staff members to support their existing teams. This means that seasonal staff members can choose between retail companies. To gain their attention, you can advertise your open position by mentioning that you provide a signing bonus to new seasonal holiday workers. This promise of additional compensation will likely help your business to stand out among the competition!



Referral Bonuses

Offering referral bonuses is a popular strategy that retail employers use to acquire new staff and retain existing workers. This is the process of providing an existing staff member with a financial reward for helping management recruit new talent.

When an employee refers management to a qualified worker who is then hired for the position, they receive a “referral bonus”. This bonus incentivizes existing staff to help business leaders source new talent for their open positions. Not only can this help a business connect with a holiday worker for their open role, but this provides an opportunity for their existing staff to make money. This compensation opportunity can improve employee retention as a result.

Recruiting new staff members and retaining existing ones are each crucial practices during busy retail periods, like the holiday season. Retail businesses need all the help they can get to carry out their operations, and providing referral bonuses can help them ensure the support of new and existing staff members.

Hazard Pay

Some retail positions come with more risks than others. Unfortunately, jobs requiring more physical risk factors can be trickier to fill, which can be a problem for understaffed organizations during the busy holiday period.

Hazard pay describes additional compensation employers provide for workers carrying out hazardous duties in their positions. This premium is paid to ensure that workers are appropriately compensated for their roles, and offering hazard pay can help retail business leaders attract employees for these types of positions.

In-Store Discounts

Another incentive that business leaders can provide to new and existing staff members is in-store discounts. This can be beneficial for retail stores, as many retail companies will let their workers make discounted purchases of their goods. Not only does this help workers afford these goods more easily, but each sale also provides more business to the employing organization.

Retail businesses often offer in-store employee discounts by determining a percentage that is reduced from the final price each time a staff member makes a purchase at one of their stores. Be sure to include in-store discounts within the “compensation” section of your job descriptions, as offering in-store discounts as a perk for workers can attract applicants to your open roles!

Gift Cards

While some organizations provide cash bonuses to their staff members, others provide workers with gift cards. Gift cards can be either for use at the hiring organization or at other stores. Retail companies will give out gift cards to new or existing employees as bonus rewards.

There are many ways that a retail company can incorporate gift cards into its seasonal employee onboarding strategy. Employers can advertise a gift card as a sign-on incentive by letting potential candidates know that a gift card will be provided upon hire. Additionally, rewarding existing staff members with gift cards can help communicate appreciation to existing employees and help with employee retention!

Be Ready for Anything This Holiday Season With Adia

Preparation is a key component to securing hard-working seasonal staff members for your retail business. However, attracting employees can be time-consuming.

Fortunately, sourcing talent through Adia can help you attract enough workers to fill your open roles fast. Adia acts as a retail staffing agency to help business leaders secure staff workers during even the busiest periods. Adia’s on-demand staffing solution connects retail employers with qualified, pre-vetted hourly workers looking for open retail jobs. For more information about how Adia can help you with your retail staffing, visit our website at


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