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Widening the Talent Pool, Diversifying Perks & Benefits, Preparing for Theft & Safety Issues and More: Axonify’s 2023 Seasonal Hiring Data Reveals Frontline Trends

Posted on: August 30, 2023

With three in five (59%) managers reporting a “lower quality applicant pool,” Axonify’s research reveals half of all retail, hospitality and food services companies plan to increase seasonal hiring this year.

Data also shows top issues frontline managers face during seasonal hiring and its impact on manager burnout.

WATERLOO, ONTARIO – August 30, 2023 – With retail, hospitality and food services industries expecting an increase in consumer demand over the next few months in response to national and cultural holiday observances, frontline managers are bracing for impact and adjusting staffing to handle demands.

In a recent survey of 300 U.S. retail, hospitality and food service frontline managers, Axonify found that half are hiring more new workers this year because they need additional support (24%; Retail: 25%, Hospitality / Food Services: 22%) or their current staff lacks specific skills needed to support seasonal demand (26%; Retail: 24% Hospitality / Food Services: 29%).

“This is a critical time of the year for frontline managers as they’re typically focused on hiring seasonal workers in anticipation of a busy holiday shopping and travel season,” said Carol Leaman, CEO and Co-Founder at Axonify. “With an expected increase in seasonal hiring this year and a tight labor market, we know these industries will be challenged to find the right workers to support their business.”

In fact, to find the right seasonal workers, frontline managers are modifying their recruitment processes to entice more applicants (via perks and benefits) and widen their talent pool.

  • 57% of frontline managers revised job descriptions to entice more people to apply (Retail: 58%, Hospitality / Food Services: 56%).
  • 55% of frontline managers offered flexible work schedules (Retail: 51%, Hospitality / Food Services: 60%).
  • 57% of frontline managers offered more competitive perks/benefits (Retail: 59%, Hospitality / Food Services: 54%).
  • Half of frontline managers opened up jobs to “second chance talent” (applicants with a non-violent criminal record) (53%; Retail: 54%, Hospitality / Food Services: 51%) and have seen an increase in retired applicants looking to rejoin the workforce (56%; Retail: 58%, Hospitality / Food Services: 53%).

However, they’re still struggling to bring in talent with more than half of frontline managers admitting it’s getting harder to find seasonal workers this year (52%; Retail: 50%, Hospitality / Food Services: 54%) and that the quality of applicants (i.e. their skill set, professionalism and overall experience) has become worse this year (59%; Retail: 54%, Hospitality / Food Services: 66%).

With such a need to quickly develop new (and even unqualified) workers, training is a big priority with 58% (Retail: 60%, Hospitality / Food Services: 55%) of frontline managers reporting that they offer more training and upskilling initiatives for new employees who join their company. Beyond upskilling employees to perform their current role, customer de-escalation (handling issues, managing conflict, etc.) is a top area of training focus this season for more than one in four managers (26%; Retail: 27%, Hospitality & Food Services: 25%).

Additional findings from Axonify’s 2023 Seasonal Hiring Data reveal:

  • Frontline managers juggle a lot this time of the year. Nearly two-thirds (64%; Retail: 66%, Hospitality / Food Services: 62%) of frontline managers say they are responsible for anticipating and solving staffing needs, identifying skills gaps and getting new hires up and running. Three in five are also responsible for onboarding new hires (59%; Retail: 58%, Hospitality / Food Services: 60%), preparing training and new hire materials (63%; Retail: 62%, Hospitality / Food Services: 64%) and recruiting applicants (61%; Retail: 59%, Hospitality / Food Services: 63%).
  • Peak hiring season is also peak burnout season for frontline managers. Nearly half (47%; Retail: 40% Hospitality / Food Services: 55%) of frontline managers surveyed have considered quitting in the last two months, saying that the responsibility of hiring seasonal staff increases their burnout (46%; Retail: 47%, Hospitality / Food Services: 46%). In fact, three in five (60%; Retail: 57% Hospitality / Food Services: 64%) frontline managers spend the majority of their time during this time of year (August and September) recruiting, hiring and onboarding seasonal workers.
  • Staffing challenges are worrisome because they impact quite literally everything. More than half of frontline managers say staffing challenges impact so many aspects of their business from delivering a memorable customer / guest experience (58%; Retail: 61%, Hospitality / Food Services: 55%) to controlling customer issues like theft, safety and violence (52%; Retail: 54%; Hospitality / Food Services: 50%).
  • Staffing isn’t the only thing worrying frontline managers. Beyond issues relating to understaffing (28%; Restaurant: 27%, Food Services: 28%), frontline managers say safety concerns (18%; Retail: 17%, Hospitality / Food Services: 19% ), volatile customers (16%; Retail: 17% , Hospitality / Food Services: 15%) and competitor pricing (14%; Retail: 15%, Hospitality / Food Services: 14%) are the biggest issues keeping them up at night. Nearly one in four also have concerns about training new employees admitting that disengaged employees and a lack of interest (25%; Retail: 22%, Hospitality / Food Services: 29%), lack of time (18%; Retail: 20%, Hospitality / Food Services: 16%) or outdated and ineffective training methods (20%; Retail: 20%, Hospitality: 19%) are the biggest barriers to getting their seasonal workforce up to speed quickly.

“Our data shows that seasonal hiring is not only a stressful time for frontline managers, it’s also become a very complex undertaking that requires them to think beyond just getting workers hired,” said Leaman. “Today, in addition to their operational duties for the business, frontline managers are responsible for ensuring each new member of their workforce is onboarded, trained and empowered to deliver seamless customer experiences for the business. Our goal at Axonify is to support frontline managers in these efforts and remove the complexities of getting seasonal workers up and running. We look forward to working with our customers in the retail, hospitality and food services industries to make this season successful and less stressful.”

For more information about Axonify, visit

About Axonify
Axonify is the proven frontline enablement solution that gives employees everything they need to learn, connect and get things done. It starts with brain science and AI to drive knowledge retention through bite-sized microlearning and daily intelligent reinforcement. Embedded two-way communication and feedback ensure your staff is engaged and informed, no matter the scale of your organization, and guided task management shows employees exactly how to put their training to use, every single day. With an industry-leading 83% engagement rate, companies use Axonify to deliver next-level CX, higher sales, improved workplace safety and lower turnover. Axonify enables over 3.5 million frontline workers in 160+ countries, with over 250 customers including Lowe’s, Kroger, Walmart and Citizens Bank. Founded in 2011, Axonify is headquartered in Waterloo, ON Canada. For more information, visit


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