Seasonal employees fuel the holiday rush
Over the next few weeks Metro’s Workology section will be shining alight on some of the jobs that pop up around the holiday season anddissappear just as quickly afterwards. Check back every Wednesday.
Over the next few weeks Metro’s Workology section will be shining a light on some of the jobs that pop up around the holiday season and dissappear just as quickly afterwards. Check back every Wednesday.
We tend to think of seasonal workers as following the rhythms of land and sea, fishing and farming as animals and crops reach an abundance, but for many workers the season they follow is signalled by the ringing of cash-register bells during the holiday season.
Across Canada, a vast workforce of shopping-mall Santas, office party caterers, Christmas tree retailers, outdoor decorators and fundraisers for charitable organizations is assembled to produce, ship and sell goods for the king of holidays, in a holiday season that stretches for months.
Jim MacGregor, director of associate relations for Sears Canada, is one of many in the retail industry gearing up for the annual recruitment drive. In Atlantic Canada alone, the company is hiring about 200 extra staff to deal with the holiday rush.
“We do a lot of seasonal hiring,” he says. “This time of year, it’s more in the stores — anything that would help a customer.”
While some of the seasonal hires are hoping to move on to full-time employment, a lot are university students or parents who don’t usually work looking to earn a little extra money to buy holiday gifts and cover the end-of-year bills.
It works well for Sears: Many of the extra workers are regular Sears shoppers.
“It really represents our customers,” MacGregor agrees. “If they’re coming just for seasonal, then typically that’s what it is: They’re looking for extra spending money.”
For some forward-thinking seasonal workers, that extra money is earned in the summer. Grace Rivers is the corporate relations director at the Canada-wide recruitment agency Adecco Employment Services. While retail outlets hire their own seasonal staff in the late fall, her firm works overtime for the summer holiday boom.
The “light industrial” areas of manufacturing and distribution for companies like Sears, Hudson Bay and Canadian Tire create and ship items over the summer so that everything is in place come the holiday season, Rivers explains. That creates a seasonal spike in demand for warehouse jobs.
“(Companies) know they have to ramp up their work force at a certain time. They get their product out, and then they ramp down. They know their sales are going to increase over Christmas, but they planned for that last April,” she says.