Mention the word ‘Christmas’ to many in the hospitality industry and you will often be met with icy looks, chilling stories or frozen expressions as they reminisce their ghosts from Christmases past. Often the so-called Christmas spirit is forgotten.
It’s no secret that the Christmas period (with some Christmas parties actually starting at the end of November and finishing at the start January) is the busiest time at Arc Recruitment: We actually start our Christmas planning around February each year! Yet Christmas 2016 was our most successful and rewarding time ever. We showcased our biggest team to the most number of clients at the best events. Business executives will often tell you that it’s good to be busy. It’s cliché but true that a diamond without pressure is simply a lump of coal. Christmas 2016 proved a record breaking opportunity which took Arc to the next level.
Why was Christmas so Busy?
So why was Christmas so busy? Well of course there is the obvious series of Christmas party events but parties aside the concluding months of the year still would have still left us with full calendars. Indeed, the media is well documented with football managers expressing the burden of cluttered fixture lists which I am sure is secretly echoed by stadium food and beverage managers. Arenas around the country also proved eventful with 8 back to back days of the ATP world tennis tour at London’s O2 Arena, music tours such as Simply Red, Rod Stewart and the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing across the country and to top it off Arc staff supported the Anthony Joshua vs Eric Molina boxing match in Manchester midway through December.
In December Team Arc was made up of 2429 different temporary staff who represented Arc across the UK in 18 areas, as far north as Newcastle and as far south as Cardiff. 65,000 hours of work were accumulated by our staff over this four-week period (and I thought a 45-hour week was a lot)! Our youngest staff member was 16 and oldest 70. Arc supplied staff in all types of role on the hospitality job spectrum including bar staff, chefs, food service staff, setting up and derigging staff, supervisors and event managers.
New Areas, New Opportunities
Each year the Christmas period has the potential to present new and sometimes unexpected opportunities. December 2016 Arc added new cities and areas to our portfolio of coverage including Nottingham, Sheffield, Swindon, Weybridge, Reading, Derby and Doncaster. It was also the first Christmas for our offices in Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham which opened earlier in the year. Expanding in new areas anytime of the year presents hurdles and challenges but this is magnified when doing this multiple times simultaneously. Our Recruitment and Operations teams scratched their heads to quickly find answers to questions such as “where will we get our staff from?”, “where shall we will be based?”, “what is the area like for transport?”, “what is the current recruitment market like in the area?” Get these answers right and the reward is the prospect of year-round work.
The Recruitment Team
From August, our recruitment team had weekly planning meetings to focus on recruitment strategies for different areas. One of the biggest challenges faced was that some areas we would be recruiting in were unknown until late Autumn. The team discovered that different approaches were necessary for different areas – One recruitment channel (be it a particular job fair or online job board) may work really well at sourcing the right candidates in Leeds, but alternative tactics may need to be applied when recruiting in Reading as an example. Our recruitment team in head office also had the responsibility of directing an army of trained coordinators to deliver relentless induction and training sessions around the country.
The Operations Team
Our operations team took up the frontline positions and were tasked with ensuring that enough staff with the right skill sets were at the right places at the right times in the right uniform whilst keeping a backup plan for inevitable last minute staffing requests. The account managers would often describe this test like playing a game of chess or risk. As you could imagine many events were simultaneous and the same time. To overcome the demand to be in two places at once (or twenty places at once over Christmas) we trained a network of bespoke on-site staffing coordinators to act as the account managers’ eyes and ears. It was a strange phenomenon after 19:00 on a Friday or Saturday evening when the phones were red hot from persistent calls throughout the entire day to eerily silent at the point when everyone was working.
Christmas 2016 was Arc’s busiest and most successful ever period. It allowed us to cement foundations for areas and offices that had been set up in earlier in the year. It allowed us to test the market and bench mark ourselves in new areas. It allowed our Recruitment, Operations and Finance teams to gel together and put all the planning into practice. It allowed us, above all, to showcase the hard work of all our staff.
. . . and on the back of delivering a successful Christmas, watch this space for 2017!