Holiday Hiring: Local employers come up with ways to fill seasonal positions despite fewer unemployed

[Originally posted in KenoshaNews.com]

Tis the season … to hire seasonal workers.

As many companies, especially retailers, prepare for the upcoming holiday crush, they may find the pool of workers smaller this year. And it may take companies longer to find the right person for the wage they want to pay.

While the Kenosha County and the southeastern Wisconsin labor markets have been described as robust, increased competition from some of the larger, more well-known companies, such as Amazon, may make it tougher for smaller companies, according to experts at local staffing firms.

Carving a niche
Companies like Mars Cheese Castle, 2800 120th Ave., located across the road from mega-employer Amazon, attract and retain seasonal help with bonuses, flexible work schedules and the employer/employee individual interaction that larger companies may not be able to provide.

For some job seekers, the work environment is a greater benefit than a few extra dollars in the paycheck.
“It’s difficult for a small company like ours to compete against a large corporation,” explained Michael Ventura, a co-general manager with Mars. “We sell products that make people happy. It’s so great to be working in a business that makes people happy.”

To gear up for the summer, its busiest season, Mars begins hiring seasonal workers in March. Last year, the Christmas holiday season was better than previous seasons. It already has a pool of employees ready to cover the holiday period.

Work conditions can be attractive. Mars has had one seasonal worker who has been with the company 15 years.
“She just knows when we might need someone and she comes in to help out,” Ventura said. An employee who left earlier this year to work for Amazon, returned two months later, “because he liked working here better.”

Staffing experts also attribute the recent hiring binge as having an effect on the seasonal labor pool. They said some people who might have been available for seasonal work, have taken full time positions with some of the newer employers in the region.

Search is on
The Seattle-based Amazon — with a distribution center in Kenosha — has recently launched a massive search for seasonal workers in preparation for the holiday season. Last year when it opened its sortation center, it hired 500 part-time seasonal workers, some of whom have become full-time associates at the adjacent fulfillment center. The e-retailer opened its fulfillment center in June staffing it with 1,000.

Now with 2,000 full-time employees, Amazon will host an official open house Wednesday. Though it has bulked up its staff, it still is seeking part-time, seasonal associates to assist with the upcoming holiday crush. It has even enlisted the services of staffing agencies to help in their search. Amazon is offering $11.50 an hour.

Seasonal hiring nationally is expected to be somewhat flat partly because retailers hired 449,500 people from March through August — up from 437,000 during the same period a year ago, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement research firm. A canvass of retailers revealed they expect to add roughly 755,000 seasonal hires to their payrolls in the final three months of the year.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger said in a statement, “In addition to steady hiring leading up to the holiday season, changes in the way consumers shop are making it possible for stores to meet increased holiday demand with fewer extra workers. When retailers do add holiday workers, fewer of those jobs are in traditional spots, such as sales clerk or cashier.”

High demand locally
Locally, employers still have a need. Some are finding it harder to fill open positions as quickly as in the past. Staffing agency officials say seasonal wages range from $8.50 to $20 an hour.

Gordmans, a discount department store located in the Southport Plaza shopping center, began hiring seasonal associates in August. Typically hiring 75 for the holiday season, plans call for the same number this year. So far, it has only filled 45 positions. “It’s been a struggle. We’ll be hiring up until Dec. 31,” explained assistant store manager Renee Novy.

Shopko, a department store at 5300 52nd. St., began hiring part-time, seasonal employees in early September. “We typically hire between 25 to 30 teammates,” said Michelle Hanson, a company spokeswoman.

Shopko has declined to discuss wage structure. But seasonal teammates, Hanson said, may be retained depending upon the hiring opportunities beyond the holiday season. Headquartered in suburban Green Bay, Shopko operates 75 stores in Wisconsin. It has stores in both Kenosha and Racine.

What best describes the Kenosha area seasonal jobs market? “You can say there are less people and more people needing people,” explained Amy Prellberg, a vice president with Quantum Personnel, 5017 Green Bay Road. “It’s not been like this in a long time.”

Six Flags focused on schedule, higher pay in filling its seasonal positions. As the region’s largest seasonal worker employer with 4,000 hires, Six Flags Great America has developed a strategy and raised wages to attract the people it needs to operate the amusement park.

Last fall when Amazon opened its Kenosha sortation center, offering to pay part-time seasonal employees $11.50 an hour, some employers in the region wondered how that would affect their ability to find the people they needed for their seasonal openings.

Though Six Flags’ season starts during Memorial Day weekend and ends Labor Day, it began hiring in March. Recruiters went to high schools and colleges, attended job fairs and used social media to find its people.

Six Flags officials had already planned an across-the-board wage increase, including raising the entry-level wage from $8.25 to $9 an hour.

Increased pay and a bundle of special benefits, including complimentary tickets, helped the entertainment company attract the people it needed to perform clerical, operational maintenance, landscaping and customer service duties. “It was an investment we thought was important to make,” said company spokeswoman Katy Enrique.

Nevertheless, it did experience a drop in the number of experienced job seekers who applied this year.

While the park saw the usual mix of retirees, teachers and others who liked a flexible schedule, wanted a second job or simply wanted to work in a fun place, a number of this year’s hires had never had a job, Enrique said. “If a person wants to work weekends, second or third shift, they can do that here. We can accommodate their needs,” she said. “This is a very unique place to work. A lot of people like it.” Pairing seasonal employees, employers.

Flexible Workforce Coalition
The coalition — originally known as the Wisconsin Seasonal Workforce Coalition — was developed by David Karst and works as a clearinghouse to help seasonal job seekers find positions and to help companies find the people they need.

Most importantly, it was developed to help seasonal workers — some of whom didn’t have much work experience — transition from one seasonal job to the next throughout the year without a gap in employment. “I wanted to make sure they were able to continue to develop their skills. These were good people who wanted a place to call home,” Karst said.

From 2008 through 2012, Karst estimated he placed 8,500 job seekers and helped several companies, including BuySeasons, UPS, Marcus Hotels & Resorts, Quad Graphics, Klement’s Sausage, Time Warner Cable, and Home Instead Senior Care. The service is free for employers and job seekers.

ZippyApp
Kamyar Faron knew how difficult it was for small businesses to find seasonal employees. As a staffing industry veteran, he knew they often would have to search longer with fewer resources than larger companies. “Some people don’t know how to promote their job opening properly. Some don’t have the financial resources,” Faron said. “Some small businesses cannot afford to take out ads on Monster.com.”

Faron has developed ZippyApp, a software system designed to help employers in the hospitality, food service and entertainment industries recruit the people they need for peak periods in their business operation cycles.

Employers can list their job descriptions, and job seekers can access the software to find jobs in their area.

Despite the name, ZippyApp is not a mobile device package. It is a system that prospective employers can load onto their computers. For more information, go to www.zippyapp.com.

Recruiting Millennials in the Mobile and Social Age: ZippyApp Founder and CEO Presents at the 2015 FSTEC Conference

ZippyApp Founder & CEO, Kamyar Faron, presents at the 2015 FSTEC conference in Washington, D.C. on Recruiting Millennials in the Mobile and Social Age. 

Sunnyvale, CA, October 13th 2015 – ZippyApp Founder and CEO, Kamyar Faron, presented at the 2015 FSTEC conference in Washington D.C. on Recruiting Millennials in the Mobile and Social Age. FSTEC is an annual technology conference , and is the only one of its kind focused solely on the foodservice industry.

“The presentation was well attended with great audience participation. It was clearly a topic of interest. Many participants visited our booth for more details and further discussions on the topic. There was a lot of enthusiasm from restaurant owners and operators on the innovative technology ZippyApp offers,” stated Faron.

Hosting over 1,400 Executives, FSTEC offers a forum-like setting for new ideas and solutions for foodservice technology issues.

Which is where Faron and ZippyApp step in.

Hourly recruiting and hiring practices have changed drastically over the last decade, yet hourly employers are still working with decade-old practices – like paper applicants and traditional applicant tracking systems.

Since millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2020, hourly employers need to be ready with a recruiting and hiring strategy to engage these workers.

“The workforce of today and tomorrow is highly engaged on mobile devices and social channels, and efficiency and connectivity are required at all stages of the job search,” explains Faron during the presentation.

ZippyApp faces millennial recruiting and hiring issues head-on by posting to popular local jobs boards and targeting jobs on social media offering maximum exposure and one-stop advertising. ZippyApp’s unique QR Code Application System allows job seekers to simply scan a barcode and apply to jobs straight from their mobile device.

About ZippyApp: A true innovation in the hourly job market, ZippyApp is the social, local, and mobile recruiting and hiring solution for the hourly job market. ZippyApp fits into any recruitment budget so organizations have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying this innovative approach to staffing. For more information, visit: zippyapp.com/business.

Kick Apps: 7 cool tools for restaurant operators

[Originally posted in restaurant-hospitality.com]

ZippyApp promises restaurant operators swift and easy recruitment of qualified local job applicants and a more efficient way to manage the application, interview and hiring process. This new new app and marketplace for employers and hourly workers has job candidates fill out one application and apply to any restaurant in ZippyApp’s employer network. Job seekers learn about job openings at your restaurant from ZippyApp’s employer marketplace or on their Facebook and Twitter feeds. When they see ZippyApp’s window decal at your restaurant, they can simply scan the decal’s QR code with their smartphone to apply for a job.

To see the rest of the Kick Apps, go to: www.restaurant-hospitality.com.

Off The Menu: ZippyApp makes it easier for potential restaurant workers

[Originally posted to masslive.com]

“There’s an app for that” is the catchphrase of the smartphone era, and one Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Kamyar Faron, is hoping to make that adage true for the often-tedious restaurant job search process.

The food service industry is notorious for its high employee turnover, with the average hourly worker staying in one position for only about six months or so. Hiring (and job hunting) thus becomes a nightmare of repetitive paperwork for employer and potential employee alike, with multiple applications to fill out and screen for interviews, respectively.

Faron’s new app, ZippyApp, enables job seekers in the restaurant industry to complete one common job application online and subsequently submit it to a participating establishment with a single click.

Job openings are posted on ZippyApp’s proprietary online marketplace and are further publicized on Facebook and in a Twitter feed.

Registered employers also can display a ZippyApp decal in their window; a unique QR code on the decal identifies the restaurant location. Individuals using ZippyApp can then scan that decal with their smartphone and instantly submit an electronic application for employment to that particular establishment.

Employers participating in ZippyApp’s system have access to a variety of tool to help them promote job openings and to screen applicants.

A number of San Francisco Bay area independents and chain restaurants have signed onto ZippyApp. Early adopters report the system as being an effective, Millennial-friendly recruitment tool.

More information about ZippyApp can be found at zippyapp.com

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has over 40 years of restaurant and educational experience. Please send items of interest to Off the Menu at the Republican, P.O. Box 1329, Springfield, MA 01101; Robert can also be reached at OffTheMenuGuy@aol.com

ZippyApp Receives Record Reception at 2015 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference.

ZippyApp’s complete suite of social, local, and mobile recruiting solutions for the hourly job market was a major success at the 2015 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference in Las Vegas, NV.

Sunnyvale, CA, May 19, 2015 – ZippyApp, the marketplace for hourly job seekers and employers, announced today that it had a record number of exhibit traffic at the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference held in April in Las Vegas, NV. The conference is attended by successful franchisees looking for new franchise opportunities as well as solutions to improve the operations of their existing franchise units. The event is primarily attended by QSRs and other food-related concepts, however, there were participants from other non-food related concepts as well.

“We are thrilled by the reception we received at the conference and the enthusiasm of the franchisees in experiencing the innovations offered by ZippyApp. Franchisees were excited to hear about the well thought-out solution and were delighted by the cost effectiveness of ZippyApp. A significant majority of visitors were ready to engage at the show and most went live with ZippyApp immediately following the conference,” stated ZippyApp Founder and CEO Kamyar Faron. “Participants particularly appreciated how ZippyApp addresses their unique recruiting challenges, which are always missing from on-boarding and workforce management solutions,” added Faron.

About ZippyApp: A true innovation in the hourly job market, ZippyApp provides social, local, and mobile solutions for 24/7 recruiting and hiring. ZippyApp is raising the bar in recruiting and hiring by setting the gold standard for local staffing with their efficient, effective, and effortless system. ZippyApp fits into any recruitment budget so organizations have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying this innovative approach to staffing. For more information, visit http://www.zippyapp.com.

ZippyApp Announces Partnership with CREAM, Inc. to Provide Recruiting and Hiring Solutions for all Corporate and Franchised locations.

ZippyApp’s complete suite of social, local, and mobile recruiting and hiring solutions supports staffing of all CREAM’s corporate and franchisee owned operations.

Sunnyvale, CA, April 1, 2015 – ZippyApp, the meeting place for hourly job seekers and employers, announced today a new partnership with CREAM, home of handcrafted ice cream sandwiches and cookies, favoring ZippyApp’s complete suite of recruiting and hiring solutions and extending it to all corporate and franchised locations.

CREAM will now be able to take advantage of ZippyApp’s Common Employment Application, Job Distribution Network, Applicant Management System, Organization Pages, Location based Hiring Portals, and unique QR Code Apply System. Combined, these products are designed to streamline the recruiting and hiring process. Applicants can scan a QR code or go online to apply – from any device, anywhere, anytime.

CREAM will also have access to ZippyApp’s On-Call and Seasonal/ Temporary features, which allows additional options for staffing high-season operations.

“CREAM evaluated many recruiting and hiring solutions and ZippyApp’s unique social, local, and mobile recruiting solution is the ideal answer for providing the best candidate experience for our applicant demographic. It also is the easiest applicant management system for our busy hiring managers,” said Helen Gutierrez, Marketing Manager for CREAM.

“We [ZippyApp] are thrilled to announce our new partnership with CREAM. Our goal is to provide the most efficient and cost effective hiring solution for the hourly job market, and being selected by CREAM Nation, one of the fastest growing chains in the U.S., is a testament to the achievement of this goal,” stated ZippyApp Founder and CEO Kamyar Faron. “Today’s frontline hourly workforce is very sophisticated and their job seeking practices are very local, through social channels and on their mobile devices. ZippyApp is unique in meeting the needs of this sector.”

About ZippyApp: A true innovation in the hourly job market, ZippyApp provides social, local, and mobile solutions for 24/7 recruiting and hiring. ZippyApp is raising the bar in recruiting and hiring, and setting the gold standard for local staffing with their efficient, effective, and effortless system. ZippyApp fits into any recruitment budget so organizations have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying this innovative approach to staffing. For more information, visit www.zippyapp.com.

About CREAM: In 2010, Jimmy and Gus led the Shamieh family in opening the first CREAM location in Berkeley, California. It was a throwback to their childhood, when they used to sandwich rich ice creams and fillings between their mom’s fresh-baked cookies. Their goal is to share these secret creations with the entirety of humanity (or at least Berkeley). As of April 1, 2015, there were 20 locations in California, with plans to expand rapidly. Fans of CREAM can find out more about CREAM’s locations as well as special offerings and promotions by visiting www.creamnation.com.