Usually lost in all the hype about holiday shopping are the seasonal workers who make it all possible. Every year, tens of thousands of people are hired for a few months during the holiday season, and of course this year is no exception. During the rest of the year, Amazon employs around 20,000 workers to staff its 40 US fulfillment centers. Amazon will be hiring more double that amount for this holiday season alone. About 50,000 “temporary associates” will be brought on to work in its fulfillment centers in order to deal with the massive increase in sales which starts around this time each year. ( http://multichannelmerchant.com/2012-holiday-preparedness/Amazon-to-hire-50000-season-fulfillment-center-employees/ ) Amazon is far from the only one, either. Walmart, for example, announced in September plans to hire around 50,000 people for their stores and Target will be adding anywhere from 80,000 to 90,000 people to deal with the holiday season.
It is one thing to double or triple your staff, however, and quite another to make it work. These hires cannot be made carelessly or without proper planning, which all goes back to the management and how they control their operations. The staff has to be trained quickly and effectively to ensure that when the amount of staff at a fulfillment center triples, there are not inefficiencies created. As has been discussed in a few prior posts on this blog, Amazon’s fulfillment centers are incredibly efficient. There is a reason that they are set up how they are, and this system works almost flawlessly throughout the year. During the holidays though, things are pushed to their limits. Of course, by now Amazon has been through plenty of holiday seasons already, so I’m sure the system is mostly streamlined and improving year to year from the management side. I wonder what it is like though for the employees to go through that sort of transformational change in the work place, a setting which could have a couple hundred one week and over a thousand the next.
Personally I’ve never had the experience of working somewhere which has had to deal with tons of seasonal hires. But have any of you joined a company as a seasonal worker, and what was that like? Or, have any of you been a regular employee at a company that has brought on a bunch of seasonal workers, and how was that experience?
8 thoughts on “Amazon to Grow by 50,000 during Holiday Season”
I agree that when these companies bring on extra help during the holiday season, these workers need to be properly trained. Otherwise, it will be chaotic and instead of increasing sales, we will be losing sales if orders are not fulfilled correctly. Personally, I have never worked as as a seasonal worker but I would want to try it to see what it would be like with everything going on for the holidays.
I am currently a seasonal worker but I did work at my company for about 2 years before becoming a seasonal worker. It is quite convenient to have a job waiting for me when I on break from school. However, working full time during the holiday season is very stressful and hectic. I personally do not like it very much because the customers you have to deal with can be overwhelming.
As for bringing on a bunch of seasonal workers, it was alright. It was great to have new people and an extra hand but sometimes is extra work. While I was working I had to train them and they can cause more tasks for me to do sometimes. So the biggest issue dealing with a fresh new batch of seasonal workers was just trying to get them immersed into the job quickly, efficiently, and effectively.
I think stores that do hire seasonal workers need to be very effective in operations management and in their planning of hiring on these additional workers. I think stores need to start very early in this process and make sure that they are as organized as possible to ensure a smooth process. The holidays are a chaotic time but with the right planning and procedures could be done effectively. I have been a seasonal worker at large department store and I know that they tried to hire people with experience in order to have employees with some knowledge already of their tasks. I would not personally go back to being a seasonal worker because it is very chaotic and stressful.
You raise a good point about how companies need to be extremely stragetic in operations management when planning to do a mass hire for a temporary period. Management should hire employees with some sort of experience in the work field because training employees from scratch with no prior knowledge can just cause more mayhem in the field. For the past four years, I worked as a temporary employee for a car company throughout the summer. Luckily, during our long winter break, they would call me to come work during December. Having had previous work experience with them in the summer, being a seasonal hire in the winter was not bad at all beacuase I already knew what to expect at the job. Furthermore, the company I worked for only hired seasonal employees that had previously worked for them in the summer; so, when all of us temporary workers came back together in the winter, there wasn’t any chaos because everybody knew what was expected of them.
I use to work at Walmart and every year seasonal hires were made. I saw this as a test run for employees whom the company liked. Eventually most of the seasonal hires were kept on full time. However this needs to be in alignment with the organization’s staffing strategy and compnay strategy as a whole. Too many inefficiencies and process errors could cause major problems for any company.
I have no experience as far as working for a company that hires employees durning the holiday season but speaking from experience as a shopper durning the holiday and I think that when stores are hiring people durning the holiday they need to make sure that they are all well trained because when you go shopping as a customer if you are not happy with the way the employees are talking to you or treating you will not purchase anything and leave and that could be a problem for the store. So I think that all employees should be well trained so that it could increase the business not lower it by the lack of untrained employees that are hired durning season because that’s where the most money comes from is durning the holidays.
I was hired as a seasonal employee for my first job. The hiring process that I went through was fast and it didn’t seem too thorough. I can’t say how it is at amazon, but as far as the store I worked for, we were not trained properly before being put out onto the sales floor dealing with the swarm of people shopping during the holiday season. I stayed on board and eventually found myself working during the next season. Again the store hired many new seasonal faces, as is the norm. This time I was the seasoned employee having to deal with the new and inappropriately trained employees.
As a new seasonal hire it is tough coming into an environment expected to work efficiently when you lack the training and experience. On the other hand it is also difficult to deal with, as a regular employee, the fresh hires that at times are more of a burden than a help. Especially in a period as hectic as the holiday season.
I agree that management’s planning is essential. There are numerous question that must be asked. For example, should we hire 20 new seasonal employees? Should we hire 10 seasonal employees and spend more resources training them? If we do spend time and money on training them is it worth it, considering that they are only there for a few months or even weeks at a time.
I believe that companies are better off hiring fewer employees and providing them with thorough training rather than more employees and throwing them out to the people and expecting good results. This way the shoppers receive quality customer service, the regular employees and supervisors have an easier time dealing with the new hires, and the new hires find it easier to adjust to the new work environment.
This is an interesting topic and, as the poster noted, is overlooked and forgotten in the frenzy that is the holiday shopping season.
I think that forecasting for the amount of seasonal hires is the easiest part about the entire “holiday hiring process”. I think the difficult part is allocated to the hiring managers and training managers. These are the people who need to change their plans and create new ones to account for percent increase in holiday hires from year to year. I think that these positions often get overlooked when planning and forecasting are mentioned. Operational managers not only need to forecast the approximate number they believe will be necessary to answer to holiday demand, but they also need to tweak, change, and spend time on adjusting the hiring process and training process, too. Capacity issues affect the entire company, and they are not easy to manage. For example, I have spent 3 holiday’s at the same retail store for 3 years now. Each year the store is forecasted to sell more, which means each year we hire about 1-2 people more. This affects everything from pay and insurance, to allocating more money to spend on training these additional hires. Forecasting is a complicated process that must be very well thought out before any action is made.