Its a Wrap Holidays and Staffing

By Julie McCoy

Dec. 4, 2009

Manpower doesn’t slow down much during the holidays.

The staffing giant was closed Thanksgiving Day and also closes Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but other than that remains open for business, says Cathy Paige, vice president and general manager for the company’s Northeastern division.

Some of Manpower’s clients close during the holidays, but Manpower wants to be able to continue to serve clients that don’t shut down, Paige explains.

“We’re in the service industry and we’re here to service clients,” she says. “It’s business as usual.”

In fact, some of Manpower’s site offices even remain open on the actual holidays.

“Christmas is a big day if you’re in the call center business,” Paige points out.

Many staffing companies like Manpower don’t take much of a break during the holiday season. Others shut down for a half-day the day before or after the holiday as well. And there are some that shut down the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s because it’s typically a slow time.

Those that shut down that week say they’re not closing longer this year because of the recession. It’s typical that staffing firms need to adjust their schedules to fit a client’s needs, even if that means skipping the holiday turkey.

Nevertheless, staffing firms are affected by the holidays, whether it’s giving gifts to clients or owners taking a moment to reflect on what they’re thankful for.

Business (mostly) as usual
At Express Employment Professionals, “We’re always open, other than the holiday itself,” says Bill Stoller, one of the founders. “During normal business hours, if we have an associate out on assignment we want to be able to service them as well as our clients. We’ve never closed. We’ve never planned on closing during the holiday week [between Christmas and New Year’s], if you will.”

Dave Dunkel, CEO of Kforce, says the holidays aren’t a time off, but a time on at his company, as people work on getting things done that need to be finished by the end of the year.

“There’s always activities,” Dunkel explains. “The clock continues to run. There’s regular operations that continue. The animal still needs to be fed, so we keep on working.”

The only thing that’s different during the holidays is that Kforce’s government and clinical clients close for two weeks, and thus consultants who are assigned to those clients also take that time off, Dunkel explains.

Hire Dynamics and the Nelson Family of Companies are open the day after Thanksgiving, even though a lot of staff takes the day off and they’re operating with a skeleton crew. It’s also business as usual for both companies the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

“As long as our clients are open, we’re open,” says Hire Dynamics CEO Dan Campbell. “We’re really driven by the needs of our customers.”

Gary Nelson, chairman of the Nelson Family of Companies, says, “We have to be available to service those clients that are operating that week. It’s pretty much business as usual except we do see more and more of our clients shutting down during that time.”

There are exceptions to this business-as-usual approach. For example, SkillStorm closes the day after Thanksgiving, says CEO Vince Virga.

“One of our SkillStorm values is ‘work hard, play hard,’ ” he says. “We definitely work hard, but during the holidays we believe in spending time with family and friends.”

Akraya, an IT staffing firm based in Sunnyvale, California, closes between Christmas and New Year’s, although accounting and payroll staff work flexible hours so that people can still be paid on time, CEO Amar Panchal says.

Recruiters do not come in that week, but if they get an e-mail or phone call and they’re not traveling, they’ll usually respond, Panchal explains. He says Akraya always closes the week between Christmas and New Year’s and is not doing anything differently this year because of the recession.

Staff can use sick days while Akraya is closed, so they don’t have to use vacation days, Panchal points out.

“It seems to work well with most of our employees,” he says. “Most want to take off during that time of year. It’s good for people to get a break during the holidays and come back refreshed the next year.”

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