Saturday, December 15, 2012

The first stage of holiday grief

My partner Tom gave ZMO a grand gift this holiday in that he clearly defined our three stages of holiday grief. These are what we go through every holiday. Probably every mail order company has them.

1. Hiring grief: will we get enough people
2. Order grief: will we get enough sales
3. Shipping grief: will we ship them all out the door on time

We just finished stage one and are firmly in stage two. Looking back at stage one we hired 400 people on top of the 60 regular crew, making us 460 strong this December. I just read that total seasonal hiring in the U.S. is 760,000 so we can count ourselves as .05% of that!

If you are a numbers nerd here are more to feast on. We spent $2,000 on help wanted ads. We took in 1,300 applications. That's a lot, but it's 600 less than last year when we hired the same number of people. Of the 400 hires, 100 help customers on phones and email (the office pictured above) and the other 300 work with the food, making the boxes and getting them out the door.  About 15% of this year's crew were folks who worked with us before. 

We hired everyone in 17 sessions. Each session has a kind of skills obstacle course with feats of strength, kind of like Festivus. For the service crew the obstacle course tests were typing, writing, a 4 question interview and a listen-in session on a live call to see if they want to opt out and not take the job (some people do). For the production crew the tests were lifting 20 pounds, picking cards by a set of codes, walking to a fast pace, computer scanning and, when we're hiring captain supervisors, we do a 4 question interview.

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