Five staffing tips ahead of the Christmas season

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Five staffing tips ahead of the Christmas season
Before your new employee even starts, you should have a clear plan on how you are going to induct them into the business.
Photo by Kieran White on Unsplash

The holiday season is upon us.

With many brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors for the first full-capacity Christmas shopping peak since 2019, it’s set to be one for the record books. To weather the peak season shopping storm, businesses must hire now and hire well. Any hasty hiring decisions made under stress or time pressure will do more harm than good, which is why it’s essential to start the search early. 

Although international borders are opening to visa holders, the circulation to Australia’s retail industry has been cut off for the last 18 months, and the repercussions mean talent is harder than ever to find.  As a fast-growth scaleup, Zeller too has had to learn and adapt to the new hiring environment, but still managed to grow to a team of more than 120 in less than two years, due to a thorough recruitment strategy. The right staff for your business are out there, so use these five top staffing tips to make sure you hire the best talent available this season.

Review your data

Your starting point when planning any operational change to your business — such as staff scheduling and hiring — should be reviewing your transaction and customer data from the prior year (or in the event 2020 wasn’t a true reflection, from 2019). This data will help you understand the likely trends, peaks and troughs in foot traffic and customer spending that your business may experience this year. 

Using your EFTPOS transaction data (which you can find in Zeller Dashboard, for example) will help you understand what days and times this holiday season you should be hiring more staff for to handle an increased footfall, and what days and times you can pull back on the roster to better manage your bottom line. 

Decide on the type of employees you need

Consider the employment status of your staff, whether that be casual, contract, part-time or full-time depending on how busy you anticipate being. The right type of employee for you hinges on the way you run your business, as well as the way your industry as a whole operates. Where a contractor might be perfect for certain short-term projects, their legal entitlements will be different to that of your permanent staff, so make sure you understand your legal obligations from the get go. 

At the start of every calendar year, you should identify the quieter periods where you may not need extra help, and the peak months of activity where you need all hands on deck so that you can decide between advertising for full- or part-time employees. For example, tourism operators are likely to hire casual employees so that staff numbers can swell to meet business needs during high season, and taper down during the rest of the year.

Understand the costs involved

When building out your team it is critical that you understand the costs involved in hiring. Consider the time you’re willing to spend, any recruitment costs involved, and advertising fees. 

Spend time mapping out the potential costs to make sure you’re confident in your staffing budget. Getting caught off guard by unexpected fees could be a huge blow to your business, so consider the below from the outset:

  • Wages: You'll need to find the relevant pay rate, conditions and the correct award if the employee will be on one. 

  • Tax and superannuation: A single-touch payroll system will help you manage the contributions you're obligated to make. 

  • Penalty rates, overtime and allowances: Factor in a buffer in case you need to pay any unexpected fees or ask your staff to work more hours than you had planned for.

  • Workplace safety: You may need to make changes to your workplace to make it safe for additional employees. You'll also need to adopt procedures to protect both staff and customers, and make sure your Workers’ compensation insurance is up to date. 

Do your due diligence

When interviewing, remember to check that the candidate has the right to work in Australia and holds any relevant licenses or certificates that the job requires. The Australian visa system is constantly changing and can be a complicated field to navigate, so consider hiring legal counsel to make sure all hiring decisions are above board before signing on the dotted line. When drafting your annual budget, think ahead for any visa renewals on the horizon as these can be costly if not made a consideration from the start.

If the role requires an RSA or a police check for example, make sure to ask for this early on in the hiring process to save you both time in the long run. Lack of sufficient certifications could lead to considerable penalties that could take months or even years to earn back. 

Start training early 

Before your new employee even starts, you should have a clear plan on how you are going to induct them into the business. Inductions are a great way to familiarise employees with the business, its operational tools, workplace health and safety procedures, and emergency procedures. You should make time to chat with your new staff members about rostering and the specifics of their role on day one and to check if they have any questions regarding their obligations. 

Factor in time to train your staff on the tools you use daily from your coffee machine to your EFTPOS terminal. Making sure you implement easy-to-use tools that staff can pick up and use immediately, such as Zeller Terminal, will minimise the amount of time spent training staff and maximise your business’s efficiency.

Get your payments in order

Websites such as Fair Work and the ATO can help to ensure you are paying the correct wage, tax and super contributions, wages and awards to your new employee. You'll want to get this right from the get-go, because adjusting incorrect pay is painful for everyone involved. Once this is set up and ready to go, a Zeller transaction account and payment card will ensure you can pay staff on time.

You must also provide your staff with a payslip within a day of paying them. Payslips will need to include the amount paid, as well as any amounts withheld for tax purposes and superannuation contributions. 

Hiring well in an environment full of uncertainties is hard, but it can be easily navigated by checking off these five simple steps. Once you decide on the type of employee you need and understand the costs, legalities and training involved, you will be well on your way to forming a peak season workforce that will take the silly season in its stride and make this the best season for your business yet. 

Ben Pfisterer is CEO and co-founder of Zeller.

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