Seasonal Hiring is Here: Don’t Get Swindled by Your Own Employees

Seasonal Hiring is Here: Don’t Get Swindled by Your Own Employees

By Tricia O'Connor

Thanksgiving is two weeks away, which means families have this much time to prepare their pandemic holiday plans. Wherever and however you’re celebrating, we wish you health and happiness.

Retailers are also busy preparing for their final seasonal hiring sweep. They need staff in place before Black Friday – regardless if they’re hiring for brick and mortar or e-commerce.

Even though there is pressure to focus more on the quantity needed rather than the quality of hires, now is not the time to cut corners on pre-employment background checks.

Last year, nearly 33,000 dishonest employees were caught stealing from their employer, according to the 32nd Annual Retail Theft Survey.

Here are some seasonal hiring tips so you don’t get swindled by your own employees.

Stealing is Big Business

Retailers are hoping customers will “Shop Safe. Shop Early.” this holiday season to help offset losses some of them have experienced because of COVID-19. While much of their attention has been focused on return-to-work health and safety measures, retailers also need to hire enough seasonal staff to maintain these measures and do what they do best – sell items.

However, some employers tend to cut corners with temporary hires, including performing minimal to no background checks. No matter the time frame, a thorough and comprehensive screen should be done on every candidate to ensure safety during the holidays.

Vetting candidates with background checks is also in a retailers’ best interest if they want to cut down on risks associated with employee theft. In 2019, more than 348,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees were caught by 21 large retailers who recovered more than $136 million, reports the 32nd Annual Retail Theft Survey by Jack L. Hayes International.

The Annual Retail Theft Survey reveals that in 2019 employee theft rose by 2.44% and recovery dollars from those thefts increased 4.88%. The survey also shows the average dishonest employee case value in 2019 was nearly $1400, a substantial increase of 11% from 2018.

Holly Jolly Hiring Season

When scrambling to hire, a screening program may seem time consuming and unnecessary, but it could save your company from costly insider theft. Here are four tips to help retailers still get the staff they need and protect their inventory.

1. Review last year’s hits and misses – Were last year’s seasonal workers a bunch of grinches? Or did you find yourself with an extraordinary set of elves? However the season played out, now’s the time to look back and examine your hiring process. How did you advertise, interview, and select your candidates? Did you have any difficulties juggling their schedules? Were you adequately covered in the front and back of the house? Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of last year’s hiring process and the subsequent season and use that info to recruit this year’s hires.

2. Hire your loyalists (and these other awesome types of employees) – One of the best ways to hire safely and quickly, and cut down on training time, is to tap into your local network of favorite customers. They already know your brand and your products; if they visit enough, they may already know your existing employees and sales strategies. You might also consider targeting moms, college students, actors, and retirees. Many of these folks are dynamic, short-term workers who will learn quickly, think on their feet, multitask, be flexible and sell, sell, sell! This is a streamlined recruiting approach that gets knowledgeable hires on the floor fast and still gives you time to complete background checks.

3. Find a screening partner – An accredited background screening firm can help keep your workplace safe, and help you follow all employment and compliance laws like Form I-9. Even in the best of times, it can be hard to keep up with the pace of hiring AND changes to hiring guidance. The pandemic has exacerbated these talent acquisition issues. Outsourcing your screening needs can provide you more time to deck the halls properly.

4. Re-Verify Previous Hires – A lot can change in a year. Last year’s top-selling toy may now be in the clearance bin, and last year’s best employee may now be dealing with some sort of criminal case. You just don’t know what can happen. That’s why re-verifying seasonal employees’ background check results is hugely important before bringing them into the fold again.

EBI is Thankful For You

The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics reports consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items such as decorations and food, and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families this year. That’s only slightly below last year’s pre-pandemic spending. Retailers should still prepare with proper staffing measures like background checks. 

If you need additional background screening guidance from our EBI experts, we’d love to speak with you. From EBI’s Workplace Health & Safety to background screening, we have a full suite of solutions to help meet your business goals.

We are thankful to have the opportunity to share our screening knowledge and tools with retailers and other enterprises to help you optimize your business. We hope you have a successful holiday season… now we need to go prepare our Thanksgiving menu!


About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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