Major Changes in Kohl's Seasonal Hiring Practices

If you are a student or a part-timer looking for some retail work during the holiday season, you may want to cross Kohl's off your list of applications for seasonal employment. In a move quite unlike past ones, the department store has decided to follow suit with Wal-Mart’s hiring policies for the holidays and rely more on their current staff than seasonal for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Instead, Kohl's has spent the year hiring more staff. The additional hours and work that were previously offered to new employees will now be first offered to current staff. Although they will be hiring some seasonal staff, essentially, the concrete number of new hires at Kohl's will not be discussed.

This change in hiring policy doesn't just affect potential employees; it also ripples into more unlikely places, like Wall Street. The retail industry's hiring plan announcements for the season actually predict Wall Street's assessment of holiday season revenue. Without the reports from such juggernauts like Kohl's and Wal-Mart, the reliability of this method to predict consumer demand this holiday season will be significantly less than ever before.

While these missing figures will be detrimental to forecasting numbers, other retailers have reported their estimated hiring numbers: J.C. Penney with 40,000 workers, Macy's with 80,000 short-term employees, and Target with 100,000 people.

In 2016 and 2015, Kohl's plans for hiring amounted to 69,000 short-term employees. Will 2017 even come close to that? The answer is up for grabs. In a CNBC interview, Kohl's executive vice president for Human Resources, Ryan Festerling, stated, "We continue to refine our company strategy, our hiring strategy, and the culture we're trying to build. That's why we're doing what we're doing."

In order to accurately anticipate how many seasonal workers Kohl's may need this year, they have been gathering data since the start of 2017, querying current employees to see which might be available to work extended shifts or hours, which may only be able to work their current hours, and which may need to take less shifts or hours over the holiday season.

With the advent of online shopping and its increasing popularity among society, retailers not only have to determine how many workers to keep in-store, they also must have the proper amount of people working online to execute all the internet orders. The ultimate goal is to cater to every shopper, whether in-person or online, smoothly and without error or delay. This is sometimes referred to as an "omnichannel experience."

And this is just the type of experience that Kohl's hopes to bring to their ever-burgeoning customer base and their loyal employees. "We clearly want to be the omnichannel retailer of choice, meeting the customer everywhere they want to shop, and that bleeds into our associates. We're taking a very omnichannel approach to get the best associates," Festerling continued.

One of Kohl's newest strategies with employees is making sure that their workers are aware of and experts on any new initiatives the company is working with or planning on working with. An example of this would be its freshly expanding partnership with the retailer of all retailers, Amazon. This, in addition to the always-touted "need for speed" regarding fulfilling online orders, are currently the main focuses of the company.

To not hire any additional workers for the holiday season would, of course, be very risky, but Kohl's and Wal-Mart will give priority for the additional shifts to its steady employees. Not having to train new people and the comfort of having trust in their existing workers is worth it to these companies.

While the number of open positions still remains a mystery, October 7 is Kohl's seasonal hiring day at the busiest 200 of its 1,100 stores. They will be hiring for in e-commerce fulfillment centers, distribution, and also in store.

One of the biggest reasons that Kohl's is changing their hiring practices this year is that a staggering 14,000 seasonal workers stayed on with the company to pursue full-time work after the 2016 holiday season. With this many year-round employees, the need for seasonal workers has drastically dropped. And using 2016 as a gauge, hirings in 2018 will be even less.

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