It’s the end of September, and Christmas stock has been appearing on the shelves for nearly a month. That shopping pressure is beginning to come on to retailers large and small alike. Walmart began its seasonal hiring push in August, and Amazon’s is underway now. Small employers, who would historically not have needed seasonal staff until December, can hamstring themselves if they don’t keep up, but how to compete?

Embrace being small

A business with just a handful of staff can be both tight-knit and flexible in ways the giants could only dream of. Start with your incumbent staff: Who needs a few more hours? Who wants overtime? What are everyone’s holiday plans? You want your core employees to be happy, both because they’re people and because happy people do more. The better you know your own employees and their desires to work overtime, the better you know what you’ll need to shore up with seasonal staff.

Check your orbit

Ask your employees if they have friends or family who need seasonal work. Touch base with former employees, even the recently retired. A lot of people want a little extra around the holidays, and this kind of continued contact is how you make your staff feel like they’re part of a family business.

Be flexible

A giant hiring seasonal staff can’t offer them any sort of choices in shifts or schedules, but you can. Don’t pass over a potential part-timer who might be an amazing add just because she’s a mother who has to take her kids to school each morning or he has to be off by three each afternoon to work his other job. Being open to that sort of accommodation makes you a better employer than the giant when it comes to holiday staff, and your ability to accommodate schedules might bring you talent they could never reach.

Don’t feel like there are no holiday staff options for you if you’re a small business. Because you can offer flexibility and a tight-knit staff, you can find some amazing employees—some of whom might even become full-timers.

Photo: Shutterstock