Holiday hiring crunch: Local businesses aim to attract workers over big box companies

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Posted at 5:34 AM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 05:34:07-05

(WXYZ) — The holiday shopping season is here and retail sales are expected to increase up to 9%, and e-commerce holiday sales are projected to jump 15% compared to 2020.

According to a consultant at Deloitte, sales between November and January are expected to total $1.3 trillion, and while consumers are ready to shop, retailers are scrambling to find enough workers to handle the surge.

The folks at the stationary and home decor store Write Impressions are gearing up for a busy holiday season.

"We had a great Christmas last year, and we expect the same this year kind of kicks off right after Thanksgiving for small business Saturday," Laura, a graphic designer for the company said.

She and everyone else are having to do a little to cover the shifts and keep the store stocked. They need another part-time worker, and finding that person is tough.

"Somebody to help run the register, somebody to help wrap gifts, and just kind of be there to support the crowds that end up here," Laura said. "It's been a challenge, definitely."

Jacquie Munson Gaines, a 30-year HR professional at JMG Connects, said the holiday hiring crunch comes in on top of the hiring challenges employers were already facing. She said even large employers are offering flexibility to meet the need.

"So instead of being on a strict schedule, they're saying, when can you give us 2-4 hours or when can you give us an hour? We'll take whatever we can get," she said.

Others are boosting pay. Amazon fulfillment and transportation jobs start at more than $18 per hour and up to $22.50 per hour in some locations. Amazon is also offering sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000.

Target is offering better tuition assistance to attract and retain workers. Walmart plans to hire 150,000 new employees and is raising wages to an average of more than $16 per hour to compete. Kohl's is offering season associates bonuses up to $400.

Many employers are now looking for good people and are more flexible on experience and skills. Companies are willing to invest in new hires giving them the skills needed to succeed.

"It really is about getting good people and then training them to do the work that is needed to get done," Munson Gaines said.

How can local businesses like Write Impressions compete with National Companies offering thousands in bonuses? Laura said they focus on fit and turn to their network.

"We find people in our community, people who have shopped here for years. They come in and ask, 'hey, are you guys hiring by chance?'" she said.

That's where local businesses with strong community ties have the advantage. Write Impressions has been in business for 32 years, so it's that network that helps match them with potential employees in the community.

Many larger companies are offering retention bonuses to keep workers they already to prevent the holiday hiring crunch from becoming even worse.