Weekly Wrap: Seasonal Work Benefits, Job Perks Return, and a Good Scream

Photo illustration by istockphoto.com.
Photo illustration by istockphoto.com.

Life, and work, beyond the holidays is just a dream for most seasonal workers.

Each year, an army of Americans are hired to work during the Christmas holiday season as businesses gear up for their busiest time of the year. Just in retail alone, 500,000-600,00 workers will be brought on (but less than the 750,000 hired in 2006), and when you add in all of the other temporary workers who help during the Christmas season, you’re talking about millions of jobs.

Temporary work isn’t the long-term answer for many, but it can be a bridge to something more permanent,as the Simply blog points out in this list of benefits to seasonal work:

  1. Flexible schedules. Are you a mom or dad who wants to be at home when the kids return from school? Don’t like the typical 9-to-5 work schedule? Many seasonal jobs offer a variety of schedules – whether you want to work full-time, part-time, mornings, evenings or something in between.
  2. Try something new. Taking a seasonal job can be a great way to explore a new industry or career without making a long-term commitment, since most seasonal jobs last from November to January. If you’ve ever considered a certain career path, a seasonal job will give you a sense for what the work is like.
  3. Learn some new skills. Even though most seasonal jobs last a few months, you will still gain new experiences, such as customer service, running a cash register, merchandising or office work, depending on your seasonal job. These additional skills might make you more qualified than other candidates when applying for full-time jobs.
  4. Get a great reference. Work as hard in a seasonal job as you would in a full-time permanent position. Show off your great work ethic, talent and resourcefulness to earn yourself great reviews from your manager and fellow employees. You can use them as references in your continued job search.
  5. Networking. During your seasonal work, you’ll be exposed to many new people. Some may be able to connect you with a hiring manager (or someone who can put you in touch with a hiring manager) and help propel your career forward.
  6. Opportunity for permanent hire. Companies sometimes keep on a number of seasonal workers if they need the continued help and if those employees prove themselves as assets to the company. Your seasonal job could turn full-time after the holidays!

But there is another side to this, and you can find it in this story from The Miami Herald about seasonal workers in South Florida:

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If it wasn’t for the holidays, I don’t think I would be working,” said Diaz, 52, who has been unemployed as a driver for the past 18 months. “I filled out between 200 and 400 job applications. It’s ridiculous.”

Diaz is part of a growing number of people who are finding work from now to the end of the year, as retailers, shipping companies and other firms boost their staffs to meet the holiday demand.

A glum jobs market has raised the stakes for South Florida’s seasonal hiring spree. Companies feel more confident this year, and their temporary payrolls show it. One forecast expects holiday hiring to increase 20 percent.

The upward momentum should make it slightly easier for temporary workers to hang on after the holidays and snag full-time positions. But most won’t, adding to the anxiety as unemployment remains stalled at historic levels…”

This probably isn’t much different from the employment picture in many parts of the country this holiday season, but it does make you wonder what will happen to all these seasonal workers, who really want to become permanent workers, after the holiday season is over?

Of course, there’s more than seasonal workers and holiday hiring in the news, and here are some other workplace-related news items you may have missed this week. Yes, this is a weekly round up of news, trends, and all sorts of information from the world of HR and talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Are job perks coming back? They are if you believe a story in USA Today. “During the recession, many cost-conscious companies furloughed fringe benefits such as holiday fetes, bonuses and free snacks,” the newspaper says. But now, some of those benefits may be coming back. “We’re starting to see perks returning,” says Jennifer Rosenzweig, research director at the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement, which focuses on employee engagement. Companies want to keep morale up, retain top talent and maintain a benevolent reputation as the economy improves.”
  • Coping with the workplace from hell. Ever had a hellish day at work? Or do you toil at a job where every day is just pure hell to get through? Well, others out there share your pain, and a lot of them describe it all on a website titled PleaseFireMe.com. It’s where you can “anonymously submit why you hate the job you can’t leave.” PleaseFireMe says its purpose is to “get you through the hellish work day. Post your gripe or join the chorus – let the world know you are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. The Man might be saying ‘let them eat cake’ in the break room every friggin’ day someone has a birthday, but we are starting a new revolution and our rally cry is Please Fire Me.”
  • Just how valuable is college, anyway? You read and hear a lot about the diminishing value of a college education, but here’s another view that comes from a University of Illinois alumni dinner held recently in California’s Silicon Valley. Mike Cassidy of the San Jose Mercury-News is one Illinois alum who attended, and the experience reminded him that “a college education has the power to not only shape an individual; it has the power to shape a community or a region — or sometimes the world.”
  • What happens when you just want to scream? It goes without saying that there are times when every HR professional is forced to deal with something that makes them just want to scream. Well here in California at the TLNT Editorial offices, we want to scream sometimes too, especially given the terrible state of the state of California. And, that’s what makes this video of our soon-to-be outgoing governor so much fun. It rounds up all of his screams from all of his movies (and there are a bunch in Total Recall), but it probably represents just a fraction of all the screaming he’s done trying to deal with the dysfunctional state of California. Watch and save for the next time your managers and HR professionals want to scream, too.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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3 Comments on “Weekly Wrap: Seasonal Work Benefits, Job Perks Return, and a Good Scream

  1. I really enjoyed this piece. It was very insightful. I LOVE the please fire me website. I actually really dislike my current job but have to stay there because I need to pay the bills. Thanks!

  2. I had actually never heard that there was a diminishing value in college education. I kind of figured that was the reason I was staying in college still instead of getting a job — because it would help me in my future. I know a lot of people are going to grad school simply so they don’t have to face the economy head on, but still. I digress. The PleaseFireMe website… hilarious.

  3. This is all very true. Jobs are scarce and chances of keeping your seasonal job are unlikely, but at least this year gives people more hope than last year. Last year we were in the middle of a recession, which hurt everyone, including retailers. And it’s sad that a college education is losing its value. It still takes the same amount of hard work to earn a college degree as ever before.

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