Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Sunday, September 17, 2017 1:00 am

Seasonal jobs often turn to permanent gigs

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

It seems like such a daunting number: 100,000. That's the number of hires Target expects to add to its payroll for this year's holiday season, and it's 30,000 more than last year.

The announcement Wednesday was one of several likely in coming weeks as retailers prepare for the crucial fourth quarter.

That means many retail supervisors will soon be devoting increased time to training. Most retailers probably have solid systems to get seasonal workers – often spread among dozens, if not hundreds of locations, up to speed.

In some workplaces, the training that will ramp up in the next couple of months is called orientation. In some, it's called onboarding.

Some of the best seasonal workers can be considered for longer-term work. People Matter Institute said on its website 86 percent of employers are likely to hire their temporary workers full time after the holidays.

The stakes are high. Retail Training Services says on its website that 40 percent of all new retail team members fail within the first 18 months of employment and the costs associated with turnover are high.

Retail employees that receive a minimum of five days of formal sales and customer services training per year are up to 80 percent more effective at driving revenue, the website says.

Last year, seasonal retail employment increased by 641,000 during the final three months of the year, although that was the lowest number since the 495,800 retail hires announced in the final months of 2009, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-area consulting firm.

Last year's job gains were 9.6 percent lower than the previous year, when retailers added 708,800 jobs, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last year, BLS data showed that transportation and warehousing employment increased by a non-seasonally adjusted 246,700 workers in the final quarter of the year, 8 percent higher than the 228,400 workers hired in this sector in the final three months of 2015, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.

“As holiday shopping habits turn virtual, retailers are responding by hiring more warehouse and transport workers. While retail hiring has fallen over the last couple years, major announcements indicate workers will still be needed for customer-facing positions, as retailers attempt to give consumers an experience they cannot receive online,” John Challenger, CEO of the firm, said in a statement Thursday.

Since 2012, holiday hiring announcements have averaged 604,000 per year, according to Challenger tracking. Some announcements are from non-retailers, such as FedEx and UPS. The bulk of those hiring announcements occur in September. Between 2011 and 2016, hiring announcements in September have averaged over 415,000.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at