Operations can quite literally grind to a halt in the six-week period between Thanksgiving and the New Year holiday. The problem is two-pronged. You have workers taking time off for holiday travel. You also have a phenomenon known as Christmas creep, whereby workers. Millennials in particular, tend to lose focus during the holiday season. Cyber Monday alone is credited with spurring a $450 million loss across all industries (and that’s a conservative estimate, as it assumes just 15 minutes of on-the-job virtual shopping.)
The result is that companies are left scrambling to cover even more ground in the weeks leading up to the holidays and immediately after, that is, unless company leaders implement proactive measures to minimize that drop-off in productivity.
The IT Industry Has Gone Global, But This Leads to a Holiday Pinch
Globalization has transformed a moderate-sized problem into a massive one, greatly exacerbating the issues surrounding end-of-year shortfalls. Just a few decades ago, relatively few mid-sized and larger companies sought IT talent on a global scale. Scouring the world for top engineers and software programmers was a practice that was primarily limited to the largest corporations, and even then, many heavyweights still emphasized local and national recruitment.
But this is no longer the case. Companies of all sizes are launching planetary searches to find the talent they need to succeed. Around 40 percent of Silicon Valley’s workers are visa-holders (compared to the 13 percent national average.) And a whopping three-quarters of Silicon Valley’s tech workers are foreign-born. This trend is consistent throughout the industry.
And while many HR leaders may think, we’ll just call in some extra help over the holidays, this approach rarely works. This is an industry-wide problem. IT staffing firms and temp agencies are confronting the exact same dilemma. Due to the expense of international travel, visa-holders and foreign-born workers tend to prefer one longer trip versus multiple shorter trips. And while many do not celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, they may still opt for multi-week-long vacations during the holiday season. The net effect is a dramatic decrease in productivity, sandwiched between chaotic scrambles to cover extra ground before and after the holidays.
How To Maximize Productivity During the Holidays
Every HR manager has encountered generic suggestions such as strategic vacation staggering, outsourcing, allowing staff to work remotely and even implementing company-wide holiday shut-downs. But these reactive measures are rarely effective in terms of cost, productivity, and practicality. Fortunately, a number of proactive strategies can be combined to boost productivity around the holidays.
Plan far in advance. Planning ahead is a given, but relatively few companies have the foresight to plan for the months, not weeks, leading up to the holiday season. In fact, this problem is one that’s best addressed throughout the entire year, not just during the few weeks before and after the holiday season. By effectively preparing, planning, and compensating in the months leading up to the holidays, proactive company leaders can largely avoid challenges and shortfalls. You’ll find your talent is far more likely to meet the mark.
Offer incentives to stay on-board during the holidays. Many foreign-born visa-holders do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, so many are not going home for the holidays. Rather, they’re going home at a time when airlines are offering money-saving promotions. So companies may consider offering a bonus to talent who stays on-site during the holiday season. Companies can also offer added time off to those who opt to travel home at a different time of year.
Really understand the impact. Meet with department leaders to identify precisely who will be leaving, when they’ll be leaving, and how their departure will impact workflow. This information is key, as it helps provide an understanding of precisely how and where you’ll be seeing workflow problems within your company. After all, you can’t address a problem if you don’t realize it exists.
Determine what needs to happen so the remaining workers can continue to be productive. The IT industry is one where you must complete one step before you can proceed to the next. With one phase reliant upon another, IT project managers could find themselves in a scenario where their techs are non-productive because they’re not in a position to proceed. The solution: evaluate workflow far in advance and implement a plan that ensures those essential foundations are established long before the holidays arrive. In some cases, this may entail summoning an insourcing team to supplement your talent. This ensures you hit the target. ideally, long before it’s necessary.
Consider using an IT staffing firm. Insourcing, or bringing an established team into your company to complete a project or fill in on a temporary basis, is a very effective option that allows companies to get ahead…or simply close the gap. Temps are a common choice, but really, it’s impractical to drop a temp into a work-in-progress and expect them to thrive. They lack familiarity with the project and the team members whom they’ll be working alongside. This is a recipe for failure. But IT staffing firms that embed their teams inside your company represent a very different approach. In that model, the insourced team has an established, refined dynamic that allows for greater productivity when you need it most. What’s more, experienced teams have functioned in many different environments, both large and small, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to spend a lot of time on integration.
It’s important to remember that companies offering IT staffing are likely facing the same holiday HR challenges. It is, after all, an industry-wide dilemma. This means the best strategy is a proactive one that involves strategic planning to minimize staff shortages and ensure the appropriate foundations are prepared in the weeks and months before workers depart for the holidays. And if you find it is necessary to call in reinforcements, opt for insourcing professionals who can maximize productivity in a way that’s simply not possible for a lone temp.
Insourcing gives companies the power to leverage the right talent precisely when and where they’re needed. This is true whether you’re preparing for the holidays or require support to complete an especially large or outside-your-expertise project. iTech’s insourcing experts know precisely how to choose the right staff to join your team. Contact us to learn how insourcing can help you meet your IT objectives.