Holiday Labor

Season spotlights industry's take on temps and employee turnover

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Convenience-store operators may not need temporary workers during the holidays to the degree that department stores or mass merchants do, but almost one in five respondents to a recent Kraft/CSP Daily News Poll said that temporary workers will play a role in their operations this season.

That noted, retailers who do need extra hands this holiday season may be of good cheer. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor put unemployment rates on the uptick, rising from a low of 4.4% in March of this year up to 4.8% this month, with [image-nocss] projections of 4.9% into the spring.

"It's an employer's market," Kim Kerr, vice president of LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group, Boca Raton, Fla., told CSP Daily News. "Before this latest trend, there were more jobs than people, but that's shiftingand that shift is happening now. It's good news for employers."

Another trend that typically occurs during the holidays is an increase in the quality of the labor pool, Kerr said. Better-educated, more-reliable individualspeople such as caregivers or students home from collegeenter the workforce specifically to make money to buy presents. "They sometimes stay two or three months after the holidays to pay back the bills they've incurred," Kerr said.

Temporary workers make for an acute challenge to the industry, Kerr noted. While no numbers exist that say these workers are any more or less likely to be a liability (in terms of internal theft), an employer might find himself or herself apt to forego important background checks to fill holiday traffic demands.

For reasons inclusive of criminal history or identity confirmation, Kerr said that employers often involve temporary agencies, paying them to conduct background checks as a part of the service provided.

Hiring temps also can provide a two-way learning curve period, during which retailers can assess how well an employee fits in with the company. This temporary-to-permanent or "temp to perm" scenario is not new, according to Kerr. "Sometimes it's a matter of finding a fit for the company's culture," he said. "Especially for industries with high turnover, an employer might ask a temp agency for six fills and eventually keep three."

Kerr has worked in the security business for over 30 years and is currently documenting what he has learned in his book, Managing Security Risk in the Hiring Process.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
View More Articles By Angel Abcede