Sourcing High-Quality Staff for the Christmas Peak Season

Is your business ready to cope with the peak shopping season? In two weeks’ time, the end of year shopping spree commences....

Indeed Flex

30 October 2018

6 min read

Is your business ready to cope with the peak shopping season?

In two weeks’ time, the end of year shopping spree commences. It begins with Black Friday, shortly followed by Cyber Monday, then the frantic Christmas shopping weeks, where people will be purchasing gifts at the last minute and looking for a convenient way to obtain them.

All of this fuels the growth of e-commerce. After the holiday, goods returns flood in. Businesses across the industrial and logistics sectors too often opt for traditional agencies during the demanding peak season.

However, their seasonal staff recruitment plans are frequently undermined by the high no-show rate, extortionate costs and not winning the last mile delivery game. Distribution centres across the country simply don’t have the staff needed to achieve success.

This is a huge problem; the end-of-year peak season is a massive commercial opportunity for fulfilment and distribution employers:

  • Many retailers do an inordinate volume of business—some as high as 70 percent—from Black Friday until the end of the year. (Inbound Logistics)
  • During last year’s Black Friday, overall consumer spending increased by 15% (with) £12,500 being spent per minute. (BBC)
  • In 2015 Cyber Monday sales in the UK bought with it a better than expected £968m in sales, a 34% rise on last year. (Warehouse & Logistics News)


It’s time to review your capabilities, put a contingency plan in place and, most importantly, ensure you have access to diligent, experienced workers. However, there are several factors which will adversely affect your ability to source high-quality staff.

For instance, when workers are on holiday, off sick or otherwise unavailable; a competitive marketplace; plus the long-standing worker shortfall. (BBC) Time is limited. Instead of spending time recruiting, interviewing or texting staff to pick up shifts, you could be spending time making sure orders are filled and promotions are run smoothly.

With that in mind, you should turn to convenient, innovative solutions, much as how consumers now utilise e-commerce. You can access fully vetted, motivated flexible workers for your business over the peak season in just a few swipes.

Did you know 60% of customers believe retailers should offer delivery in less than 24 hours?

Consumers expect to be able to track their deliveries, pick delivery slots, and have a choice of locations for collections, with the ability to manage from their phones or tablets.

Next-day delivery and priority delivery as options are becoming a norm. While choosing the right delivery partner is critical, this also means warehousing operations need to be on the ball. They need to be able to track the orders, track their inventory and manage it all in real time. Inevitably this leads to more pressure on the staff at fulfilment centres, particularly nearer to Christmas, when last-minute orders are being made under the assumption they’ll arrive promptly.

At the start of the new year, we see an increase in reverse logistics, where more items are being returned. For instance, women’s clothing is one of the highest returned items, as while online shopping is flexible and convenient, items that have not been tried out or seen in person, may not entirely satisfy the customer. A lot of businesses offer free returns to entice customers to shop with them, and to remain competitive. However, this means increased costs to cope with the rate of returns.

The staffing market warehouse-staff-syft

The UK Logistics industry had a staff turnover of 26% versus the UK average of 15% in 2015/16. (Personal Group)

There are several issues hampering the recruitment and retainment of skilled workers in the logistics and industrial sectors. For instance, EU workers currently make up a significant portion of the workforce. However, Brexit’s adverse economic effects are driving workers out of the UK, while potential changes to legislation could detrimentally impact on the ability of employers to source the workers they need from beyond the country.

Furthermore, with an ageing population and millennials making up a larger portion of the workforce, the industrial and logistics sectors struggle to seem like attractive propositions. There are perceptions that the sectors are low paid, have few career paths, technologically undeveloped and too male dominated. Many of these assumptions can be disproved, but that takes a concerted effort while consumer demand just keeps rising.

Additionally, during the peak season, the demand is so high that your own workers may be poached by competitors. With the potential shrinkage of a qualified pool of workers, getting the right staff is going to be a key for warehousing and logistics. Particularly flexible staffing solutions, as businesses may have to respond quickly to increasing or decreasing demands as events unfold.

Solution syft-warehouse-tablet

As a business, here are some of the solutions you can use to ensure that you get the right quality and quantity of workers:  

  • Don’t overwork your team and only bring in skilled, additional staff

It’s reasonable to want workers that are versatile, able to learn and happy to chip in with the different tasks at hand. However, you shouldn’t go about your hiring under the impression that you can spread your staff thinly or expect them to take up overtime shifts. An exhausted and overworked team may not get along, could harm productivity, plus destroy your brand’s goodwill and business in a matter of days.

One convenient aspect of an on-demand service is that you can fill in the empty spaces on your staffing calendar at the last minute or well ahead of time, who’ll be able to arrive and get straight to work. Platforms like Syft vet and verify each staff member on their platform. Only workers who have passed the verbal, numerical and reasoning assessment, plus are skilled and experienced, can access shifts, ensuring they can jump in and work as efficiently as your full-time team, even at the last minute.  

  • Provide enough incentive to attract and retain workers

With shortages already existing within the logistics sector, attracting and retaining workers during the demanding peak season is only going to become more difficult. Make sure you provide fair pay, flexibility and rewards to attract and retain quality workers. If you expect your workers to give more than minimum effort, you need to be the kind of business they would want to work for.  

  • Use the right partners to help you find the right workers

You can use a staffing solution like Syft which finds the workers for you. Syft’s higher pay, perks and flexibility has the potential to attract new workers, both from within the UK and outside, into the industry. Syft’s flexible staffing solution for employers mean that as a business, you can hire workers as and when you need them. Syft workers are vetted, legally compliant, and of the highest standard. Syft is a dependable source for employers, meeting their ever-changing hiring requirements, and can be a right staffing partner for your business.

To find out more about our activities in the industrial and logistics sectors, please click here.