Advice Christmas

Recruitment for the festive season

Finding and recruiting top talent should be a priority for all retailers.

Having great people in your team can help you sell more products, be more efficient, and most importantly, provide outstanding customer service!

Attracting the right people to your business comes down to pitching the role to the right people using the right platform. In a small town, word of mouth and placing an advertisement in the local paper is often the best option, whereas larger retailers in cities rely on online advertising.

Looking ahead and forecasting your recruitment needs means you can start the process early – a key example of this is the recruitment of Christmas casuals. Despite the fact you only have Christmas casuals for a short period of time, they are representing your brand and often the face of your company, so it is crucial to hire the best people for the job.

Conducting a robust process during the Christmas season is particularly important, as this is the time when many retailers are increasing staffing levels to accommodate customers and keep up with demand. A critical stage of getting top performers for Christmas casual, fixed term or permanent positions on board is the interview stage. The need for extra staffing at a busy time is a genuine business reason for having a fixed term agreement but you must recruit on that basis, making sure your intention is clear from the outset.

  • Start a robust recruitment process as early as you can to avoid rushing the process.
  • Decide on what you want before you start advertising – it is not a good look to change the role during the recruitment process.
  • Advertise on a platform that attracts the talent you need – whether that is online using Seek or Trade Me, in a local paper or on social media if you have an online following.
  • Don’t be afraid to cast your net wide – if you’re interested in getting the best person for the job, the more candidates you have to choose from, the better!
  • Be flexible if you can – a lot of people value flexibility with hours or other benefits over a higher annual or hourly wage.
  • Don’t be shy about approaching people who you think would suit the role – being proactive about recruitment rather than waiting for the right person to come to you is becoming a more popular strategy.
  • Keep an open mind when shortlisting – you may have set ideas about the type of experience you need a candidate to have, but being open about different skill sets may bring more value to your business.
  • Check at least two references for potential candidates to make sure they are the right fit for your business.

When you invite a candidate to interview, it is appropriate to inform them about what the process will include. This is particularly true if you they are going to be doing part of their interview on the shop floor.

  • Before interviewing candidates, sit down and write a list of specific actions and behaviours you require from employees in the position you are interviewing for. Use this list to create questions and scenarios to see if the candidate is going to be a good fit for the role.
  • Prepare a welcoming and comfortable space to interview your candidates. It is hard to get a good idea of whether someone may be a good fit for your team if the interview is conducted standing up in a storage room or in the middle of your store with other people around.
  • Use open-ended questions and don’t be afraid to ask for real life examples. Asking ‘tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer?’ will get you a much more thorough answer than asking ‘are you ok handling difficult customers.’
  • Pay attention to your candidate’s mannerisms. Are they friendly and energetic or are they quiet and lethargic? Think about your customers perspective – how would you feel being served by this person?
  • You may potentially want to bring them out to the floor and introduce them around to other employees, to see how they interact with other people they don’t know.
  • Don’t forget to take notes or have another manager in the interview alongside to be a note taker for you.

With Christmas approaching it is now a crucial time to start to think of your staffing arrangements over this period. Will you have staff on leave and/or require additional staff to cover a busier period in your business?

You may be looking to hire a casual or fixed term staff member to cover this period, but which contract is right for your requirements?

A casual employee works on a ‘as and when required’ basis. There are no guaranteed hours of work (for either party), no regular pattern of work, and no ongoing expectation of employment. The employee does not have to accept work if it is offered. Due to the lack of certainty in casual work the casual can be paid 8% of their gross earnings with their regular pay instead of accruing annual holidays. A casual contract may be a good option if you are unsure of the amount of cover you will need and/or require someone to cover other staff members on periods of leave etc. Be aware that, under a casual agreement, your employee is not obliged to come to work for any particular hours. While you can offer work to a casual employee, he or she can accept or decline. Get a casual contract template here.

A fixed-term (temporary) employee’s employment will end on a specified date and has a genuine reason for being a fixed term – for example to cover a seasonal peak in workload. A fixed term employee will have a minimum number of hours per week and will either have agreed fixed shifts or work on a roster system as specified in their employment agreement. A fixed term employee on a contract of less than 12 months can also be paid 8% of their gross earnings with their regular pay instead of accruing annual holidays. A fixed term contract is a good option where you know you will need additional cover for a certain timeframe each week for the Christmas period. Get a fixed term contract template here.

If you are unclear which contract you should be using please call us on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia), or email

If you are likely to need casual employees over the summer, we recommend that you start recruiting now. You might want to think about using Student Job Search (which has no cost for employers) to help get the people you need for the busy period – but however you recruit it’s important to make sure that casual employees are truly casual and that you have the right contracts in place. Retail NZ members can access employment contract templates FREE here.

If you have any questions, please check in with our free member Advice Service on 0800 472 472 or email

Take a look at our Christmas Hub, for helpful tips about staffing, major shopping days, public holidays, customary closedowns, and more!

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