With the holiday shopping season fully underway, Canadians are hitting the sales and grabbing gifts, and many employers have increased the number of seasonal employees they plan to hire. According to new survey results and on-the-ground reports from Express Employment Professionals franchise owners, many regions report an increase in hiring of seasonal workers compared to last year. But there are some areas where the opposite is true-most notably Ontario, where there has been a decrease.
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Express franchise owner Shane DeCoste has seen a large increase in seasonal hiring this year.
“The economy is buoyant and small- and medium-sized businesses are doing more seasonal hiring to meet increased client demand,” he said. “Versus the same point last year, we have increased the number of people working in seasonal jobs by 30 per cent, which is significant.”
On the other side of the country, in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Express franchise owner Daniel Purdy has seen the same trend.
“Compared to last year, we are receiving more interest from our clients in seasonal/holiday staffing,” he said. “The unprecedented low employment in BC and higher package volumes from online retail purchases have increased demand for temporary staffing.”
According to a survey of businesses fielded by Express, 1 in 3 expected to have seasonal work this year.
In Edmonton, Alberta, Express Franchise owner Jessica Culo notes that the growing popularity of “Black Friday” sales has resulted in seasonal hiring happening earlier than previous years, “not just from a retail perspective but also a distribution perspective.” But Culo added that, while there has been an increase in seasonal hiring for Black Friday this year, she does not expect to see an increase in seasonal hiring for the remainder of the holiday season.
However, not every region in Canada is experiencing a boost in seasonal hiring this year, with Ontario being the most notable exception.
Bruce Hein, Express franchise owner in Sarnia, Ontario, reports a decrease in seasonal hiring this year.
“While hiring is pretty strong as we finish 2018, seasonal hiring for the holidays is down compared to previous years,” he said.
According to Hein, there are a few possible reasons for the dampening of seasonal hires in Ontario, including “increases to the minimum wage and other legislated changes to employee benefits and compensation that increased the costs of doing business in the province.”
Culo agrees that increasing minimum wages may have a negative impact on businesses’ ability to hire temporary staff when needed.
“It has been challenging and frustrating for businesses,” she said. “For example, we have seen businesses in the service industry increase the workload for their employees, because they cannot afford to add seasonal staff, which can lead to overworked employees and dissatisfied clients.”
Regardless of current trends, seasonal jobs can be a good career move; a foot in the door to becoming a permanent employee. It may also provide an important financial bump, especially for young people.
“In a period of growing job vacancies and a tight labor market, it makes sense that seasonal hiring trends are changing,” said Bill Stoller, the CEO of Express. “Many businesses are staffed up for the holiday rush, and it’s good news they are able to afford extra staff when needed to keep up with client demand. It’s certainly something to celebrate this holiday season.”
The survey of 804 businesses, which are current and former clients of Express Employment Professionals, was conducted in August 2018 to gauge respondents’ expectations for the fourth quarter of 2018.