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?