By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, digital, marketing, advertising and public relations talent with the best companies on a project, contract-to-hire and full-time basis.
In 2020, creative firms and companies have had to make some tough calls and may continue to do so in the new year. Should they hold on filling open positions or downsize their workforce until the economy picks up? Or is it more important to maintain current staff levels and stay poised and ready for new business opportunities?
Both options have their downsides — but there is a third option. Savvy managers are turning to interim professionals or freelancers to support their full-time staff, allowing firms to maintain business-critical operations and remain flexible without running up long-term costs.
Drawing on insights from The Creative Group 2021 Salary Guide, I’d like to share how a flexible staffing model can help you realign your resources, secure the best talent and boost your business resilience so you’re ready to face the future.
Access Specialized Skills
The pandemic has accelerated the trend toward digital content, providing opportunities and challenges for creative teams. The shift to e-commerce platforms and increasing use of automation means digital specialists are needed to pursue opportunities in this field. If you don’t have such talent in-house, you can hire freelancers or consultants with extensive skills in this area and others you might temporarily need.
Save Valuable Time
Recruitment can be a laborious process. Advertising, interviewing and onboarding take up precious time and resources, whereas contract workers with specialized skills can hit the ground running and make immediate contributions. When contract workers are recruited through a staffing agency, they will have already been evaluated to make sure they have the skills and background to do the job.
Reduce Fixed Overheads
The pandemic has forced firms to take a magnifying glass to their expenses. When cash flow is squeezed, hiring is often the first area to be put on hold. Rather than hiring full-time personnel with associated long-term costs like training, benefits and salaries, the use of contingent workers means firms pay for the talent they need — and only when they need it.
Scale The Team As Needed
Being able to build or reduce capability quickly gives firms greater control over their costs and makes them better able to respond to changing economic conditions. Operating an agile mix of full-time staff and project-based contract workers means firms can keep their day-to-day initiatives on track, while pursuing high-priority projects that could help the business.
Interim staff can provide continuity in circumstances such as family leave and extended illness. They also help companies through periods of change. In an ideal world, every organization would have the right skills to cope with every situation, but sometimes interim support is needed to keep projects moving and ensure business or client needs are met.
Test Candidates For A Full-Time Role
Many firms who have cut staff remain cautious about hiring. And when they do re-enter the recruiting market, they want to be sure they get it right. Former employees may no longer be available to rehire and taking on interim professionals gives managers time to evaluate their skills and make sure they work well with the team — without the financial consequences of making a bad hire.
Alleviate The Burden On Full-time Staff
Operating a leaner team with shifting priorities both at work and at home can leave all team members feeling stretched and overwhelmed. Managers should be alert to the possibility of burnout, which can lead to staff going out sick and a drop in productivity and creativity. If interim workers can assist with day-to-day responsibilities, core staff are free to focus on essential duties and employee engagement may increase.
Keep Employees Loyal And Motivated
Successful leaders know that investing in their staff results in a more loyal and motivated workforce. Showing your creative team that you care about their welfare and will pay for additional support when necessary can help make them feel valued and appreciated.
Build A Future-Proofed Workforce
High-performing full-time employees will likely continue to be the backbone of your workforce. They know your products and services inside out and have the creativity to come up with innovative solutions to fit your unique needs and resources. But the future is unknown, which means there may be skills gaps. Hiring contract-based talent to fill these gaps gives your workforce the flexibility to pursue novel and complex challenges.
The pandemic has changed the workplace and shifted priorities for many companies, but disruption is a constant factor for creative and marketing teams. Other game-changing events could be just around the corner, so companies must be agile and ready to react. With a flexible staffing strategy, you can help give your organization the resilience it needs to face tomorrow’s challenges.