Holiday hiring: top ways to build a team

Are you interested in building up seasonal teams this fall or winter? Let the experts at Beacon Hill show you a strategic, effective way to do your holiday hiring.

When a new team is needed, or a holiday is on the horizon, human resources managers tend to jump right into hiring without a strategy and without thinking about building a team as a cohesive unit. Instead, they market to individuals. While that choice technically works, it doesn't usually make for smooth sailing.

Whether it's for the fall and winter holidays or for an unrelated upswing, let Beacon Hill show you a strategic, effective way to hire teams.


Before you start to hire

Intentionally-crafted teams are a good play for hiring managers. Here are some things to consider. 


Define the skills and roles

Moreso than job titles, skills are the universal language of work. Ask hiring leaders what skills can be learned on the job vs. what skills are required of candidates on day one.

Beyond just job titles, it is important to consider the roles employees play individually and in the larger team. You can build out a plan to hire for defined roles based on how they will work together and what elements are needed for success. 


Consider leadership needs

The leader is often heavily involved in hiring, but how they work and their goals matter too! Consider their personality, skills and what they are looking for before you start placing ads for talent. Preparation is key. 


Level up your interviewer skills

How well you interview candidates sets the stage for your team's cohesion. If you don't ask the right questions, you will end up with a bad fit and then you will have to re-hire. Some questions to ask as written by Leaders are:


  • Do you prefer working on a team or on your own?
  • What do you do to adapt to new challenges?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?

Those sorts of questions reveal a lot about candidate personalities and can help you round out who they are beyond their credentials alone.


Write why and team-centric job descriptions

When you write your job descriptions, include the things that matter most to job seekers. For example, in retail, the industry most known for holiday hiring, make sure to hit all the classic selling points such as:


  • Earn money for holiday spending
  • Work while you're on a college break
  • Flexible hours for caregivers

For other industries, focus on the transferrable skills candidates might earn, or the potential to stay on after the season comes to a close. People are always looking to pivot and including that factor could mean hooking a high-quality hire.

Finally, you'll want to include some details about the team environment so that candidates can decide if they are a good fit for it. 


After you hire

Offer strong orientation and onboarding

Once you have successfully hired your team, follow that up with strong orientation and onboarding. Both elements make team members feel more engaged and prepared to do great work.

Pro-tip: Explaining how the orientation and onboarding process works can be a selling point at interviews. No one likes to be thrown into the deep end!

Understand your team members

After you've decided on your team members, get to know them a bit better.

Some companies choose to leverage personality tests to determine working styles. While that may not be a fit for every organization, many find it helpful as they try to utilize everyone's strengths, mitigate their weaknesses and ultimately understand how communication can be optimized between different members.

Back in 2001 when the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology ran their survey they found that 29% of employers were using at least one type of psychological measurement or assessment and that 13% utilize personality tests.

While we are certain that the metrics have risen drastically over the past years, those numbers were compelling even back then. It might be worth considering some testing if you aren't using them already.

Pro-tip: Avoid using personality tests in the hiring process though as they can be considered discriminatory. These tests should be used purely to help your chosen team members work better together.

Hire leaders who are both task- and relationship-oriented

A Harvard Business Review (HBR) study of 55 teams noted that team leaders with both orientation types were more productive and innovative. 


Help team members develop relationships

HBR's research shed light on the fact that teams that are made up of strangers (as opposed to teams with long-standing hires) had difficulty collaborating.

As such, you should make every effort you can to help your new team members get to know each other and you. The relationships you foster can help you achieve at the highest level.


Use a staffing partner

You may be asking ... why can't I do this myself? Well, it's true, you certainly can, but ...

  1. Staffing firms already have talent in the pipeline that might help them build a strong team.
  2. Staffing firms are experienced in mass hiring, quickly.
  3. Staffing firms have the resources to source, onboard, engage, and administer pay and benefits so you don't have to.


Keep your teams engaged

Retaining talent is important to all organizations. In fact, 47% cited retention/turnover as the most important workforce management challenge of HR professionals in a Society of Research Management (SHRM) survey. To retain your team members, engage them in the following ways: 

  • Check in with your team regularly once you build it. You can do this by establishing a regular meeting schedule for the group and by holding ad-hoc meetings to address individual concerns so that they don't escalate.
  • Have shared goals and be clear about them.
  • Outline actionable steps to reach the goals and hold people accountable.
  • Be sure each team member is invested and feels involved in the process you need to take to reach the team's goals.
  • Reiterate each team member's role and why it's valuable to the team's success.

The success of hiring teams, even if it's just for a season, is challenging. Do you need assistance? Beacon Hill has a wealth of experience doing it. Take a look at this case study, if you'd like to learn about it.

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