Lowe's will add more than 65,000 employees to its labor force in 2019, it announced Jan. 4. Of those, 50,000 will be seasonal hires, as Lowe's works to position itself as the go-to home improvement retailer for spring indoor and outdoor projects, it said.
Of the non-seasonal workers Lowe's intends to hire, 10,000 will comprise a new "Merchandising Service Team" to handle inventory management and "improve in-stock availability and allow Red Vest associates to spend more time serving customers by reducing time spent on tasks," according to the announcement.
The statement also noted that nearly 6,000 new assistant store manager and department supervisor roles will help Lowe's "improve customer service and leadership," while more than 2,000 new digital strategy and tech roles will help it "enhance core technology capabilities."
During the winter holidays, when seasonal hiring is most common, retail employers have a lot to consider — and Lowe's springtime hiring spree is no different. A reliance on contingent workers has become commonplace for employers looking for bootstrap solutions to business problems, but they're finding they still need to offer competitive pay (and possibly discounts or other benefits) to attract these workers. With unemployment still at historic lows, employers like Amazon with a higher hourly wage have an advantage. Walmart, on the other hand, has opted out of the challenge in the past, offering more hours to current employees instead.
Employers seeking seasonal, contingent workers will also need to keep an eye toward the future. With the contingent workforce expected to creep toward 60% in the coming years, states may revise their wage and hour laws, and federal legislation with protections for contingent workers could be on the horizon, experts have predicted.
After a slew of store closures in the U.S. and in Mexico and a tech mishap on Black Friday that cost it sales, Lowe's announced late last year that it was setting new goals for growth and profitability and refocusing on customer service. This new hiring announcement could help Lowe's further that goal, with tech hires to address concerns about digital inefficiencies and seasonal workers to provide better customer service at its busiest time of year.
Furthermore, Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison admitted that stock-outs have been a major problem in stores so the new "Merchandising Service Team" is no surprise.
Still, as the contingent workforce grows nationally, all employers who retain a blend of contingent workers and traditional employees may need to continually assess the sustainability of the practice beyond various busy seasons.