Holiday Season in the Service Industry

Holiday Season in the Service Industry

This December, Path Forward is celebrating opportunities that restaurant and retail businesses provide for employees during the holiday season. As part of the annual spike in shopping and entertaining that takes place this time of year, businesses not only set up displays and expand their hours, they hire extra staff behind the scenes to meet the surge in activity. This provides younger workers with a chance to strengthen important life skills such as customer service, team building, and organization, and is also a valuable time for more senior employees to gain management skills as they onboard and train new hires.

Holiday Employment:

  • According to the National Retail Federation, retailers are expected to hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday season.
  • 84 percent of 1,000+ restaurants polled in a 2015 survey reported that they were hiring additional staff to handle the bigger crowds associated with holiday shopping foot traffic.
  • College students and seniors citizens are two demographics the service industry looks to when hiring seasonal employees. College students are looking for flexible work hours while on school break, and seniors hold years of work experience under their belts, providing an at-ease shopping experience for customers.

What They Are Saying About Holiday Hiring:

Spreading joy on the job: Lisa Cepis climbed the ladder from a seasonal employee at Gap in college to district manager for nine Athleta stores in over four states. She not only enjoys using her employee discount during the holidays, but also values bringing joy to those on her team. “What makes it exciting for me during the holidays is spreading joy — both for our teams and for the customer in front of me,” she said. “Getting to see the ways we can put a smile on someone’s face right before our eyes is such a treat.”

Counting on seasonal employees: HoneyBaked Ham Co. hires at least 12,000 employees for the holiday season. “Each year we count on seasonal employees to help us serve our customers and their families during this special time of the year,” said the company’s senior vice president Molly Kesmodel. Dan Davis, Marketing Manager at The Summit, also pointed to the many restaurant openings at the Reno-area shopping center during this time of year: “I know a lot of restaurants take on additional servers to accommodate the holiday season, so if you’re looking to work, there’s plenty of opportunity.”

Seniors enjoying work during the holidays: At 74 years old, retired fire chief Charlie Maurais looks forward to his seasonal part-time job at Sunshine Ace Hardware store. He’s held the position for the past seven years. “I don’t have too many hobbies, so this keeps me busy,” he said. “I just like seeing people and helping them out. It’s a joy to go to work.”

Taking advantage of hiring on school breaks: Community college student Weider Alves  signed up to work at L.L. Bean after stopping by a local job fair where businesses were recruiting holiday employees. “I’m in school full time, and in the evenings I try to get some extra money,” he said. Employers also see value in onboarding students during the break. Mike Weinberger, president of Maui Wowi, said the smoothie chain hires students during the holidays. Their teams “know it’s ‘all hands on deck,’ and everyone is ready for the influx.”

Staffing up for increased traffic: David Ragosa, co-founder of Kono Pizza, explained why taking on additional employees at all of his mall locations during the holidays is important: “Increasing our staffing over the holiday period ensures that we continue to provide fast, friendly service while mall traffic is at its peak.”

Hiring to meet demand during the holidays and beyond: Williams-Sonoma Recruiting Manager Josh Layton emphasized the company’s effort to retain team members after the holidays: “We typically look into our seasonals in preparation for those full-time opportunities post-season.” Chris Pyrah, Human Resources Leader at Scheels, also said that they like to find associates that want to stay long-term. “I’ve been here for 14 years, so I like to find people that want to stay here as well, as long as I have,” he said.