We know when to listen and when to offer sound advice.
We’re a creative, strategic Business Services Agency, providing services across the whole HR function from recruitment, HR, Organisation Design and Development and L&D.
We know when to listen and when to offer sound advice.
We know process but we don't follow it blindly.
We speak plainly and positively, and askew industry jargon.
We help our clients create positive working environments.
Stronger relationships, create better outcomes.
Industry insight and advice in abundance.
If, like me, you work in the Creative Industry you’ll know just how important freelancers are; so imagine, if you will a world without freelancers and all that they bring to our industry.
From Digital Marketers, UX designers, UX researchers, photographers, Creative Directors, Graphic Designers, Screen Skills Directors, dancers, actors, Marketing & PR you’ll understand how they operate and why they operate as they do. The industry just operates with them and it works; they bring talent, creativity and ideas that you simply don’t get from a permanent employee; perhaps borne from the uncertainty of it all, their ideas are truly the lifeblood of the industry.
Freelancers take the hit on holiday and sickness pay that a permanently employed person gets. They take the risk of being dropped with little to no notice on a project and they take the hit on being out of work for a period whilst waiting for other work. Yet despite all this, and despite their known importance across the industry they are still seen as the underdog to the wider world. And especially it would seem in the recent Government support following the Covid-19 pandemic. In a recent report by the Creative Industries Federation Andy Harrower, CEO, Directors UK said that the majority of Screen Directors are freelancers and as production halted due to the virus, their work has ceased. With the Creative Industry bringing £111.7billion to our economy – that’s more than aerospace, automotive, life sciences oil & gas combined [Our World without Culture Report June 2020 Creative Industries Federation] – why are we still overlooking the community of freelancers?
As the Creative Industry has grown over the last 20 years we are now, more than ever able to demonstrate how we have managed to adapt and grow, despite the banking crisis of 2008 and the following global recession. Perhaps now, in the face of another recession that will inevitably follow the Covid pandemic, wider industry will look to us once again to help them respond as their businesses unfold. But in order to do so, they need to ask not what we can do to be more like them, but what can they do to be more like us. Freelancer talent makes up an estimated 34% of the workforce, and with it brings a wider breadth of knowledge, a creative perspective and a deeper understanding of the creative process. They adapt, and integrate but also have a holistic view that brings so much to the ecosystem of our Creative Industry. If you are looking to adapt for the wider future of work, then it is this talent that may well help you do so.
As you begin to lead your business out of lockdown and face the challenges it has given you, here is a helpful guide to the steps you can take to unpick those issues:
Firstly: Your workforce.
As you consider who to start unfurloughing, when to bring them back look at your workforce differently. Remember for most people they will not feel the same right now, as they did pre lockdown and that in itself is something we’ll consider later down this post.
Depending on your cashflow and the picture you now face, you may have some really difficult decisions to make. As you begin to assess who you need and what the government guidance means to you in terms of who you bring back and when, be certain to have conversations with your staff about what’s going on.
Earlier this week AirBnB was lauded for the way they handled the, sadly, inevitable redundancy situation they are facing. Their honesty, compassion and communication were paramount to the reputation their brand holds dear. And they handled it brilliantly. Even difficult conversations can be handled well.
Secondly: Infection control.
This isn’t an easy picture to navigate. There are a lot of factors to consider, especially around the H&S of your staff and possibly customers. The HSE has some brilliant template risk assessments and we suggest you use that website as your first port of call. But there are other organisations offering low cost, and easy to manage risk assessments and guidance so they are well worth pursuing.
Remember to consider:
Thirdly: The human side to this and your Operational changes.
This is where you will need to consider your policies. What do you need to amend to take into account the changes we now face?
Sickness absence. As a business you may not be able to afford to alter when sickness payments are triggered but if you can amend them, that extra reassurance that full pay will be paid at least for a few days will really help alleviate worry.
Compassionate leave. It should go without saying that this may now be front and central in many people’s lives. You may want to operate on a discretionary process but you may want to send a wider message about compassion and why you value the difficulties many staff now face.
Death in service & key man insurance. This is a really difficult issue to tackle but you may want to revisit the policies, processes and insurances you have in place to cover this. Uncomfortable though it may feel, the conversation is more uncomfortable if its not addressed before facing the loss of someone in the business.
Emergency Leave time off. For your staff managing family, and the life juggle outside of work and especially in these times, please be realistic. This is not a normal situation and whilst you may have it nailed at home many may simply struggle to get the balance right. This may lead to occasions where they simply have to take time off at short notice. Please be understanding.
Flexible working and working from home. We have already spoken about the need for flexibility when handling home life but here it is vital. What may feel ok for you, simply may not for others. Your need to rush back to normal working life, working a shared environment simply may not wash with others. Don’t make this a watershed moment where you lead with an iron fist, show compassion and flexibility in your approach.
Covid-19 policy. This isn’t something you’ll have thought about necessarily so if you’d like one please get in touch and we’ll happily send you a free template document.
Well-being policy & programme. Your staff may well be very anxious and struggle with the return to work so what you can offer now will make a big difference in reassuring them. It doesn’t have to be costly but it might offer a lot of help and send out powerful messages to your staff. If you have the budget there are some great mental health services available but if you don’t there are some equally amazing free ones such as this https://recoveryandwellbeing.covwarkpt.nhs.uk/OnlineWorkshops.aspx
Whilst it goes without saying that this situation has been difficult for all of us, there is very much a human side to this. It has been a change of unprecedented scales and there is a very real and very human side. Your staff need reassurances that there is stability and they need to be heard. You may feel like returning to work will be as simple as furloughing but for many it will lead to much worry and potentially really logistical issues. Be human and talk to them, ask them what works for them and try to work around that in your planning. Where you can’t work around it, explain and be open but don’t expect to click your fingers and it to return to how it was. For many this has been a life changing moment and with that will come a human cost. Now you need to show compassion.
This is an issue really close to my heart and something I hope we are recognising needs a whole industry approach.
Many years ago in the early days of my career I started working for a Website Design Agency. I LOVED the job, the people and the work we delivered. It was such an exciting time for the industry – then known as New Media – because it was new! Websites were only just beginning to emerge and were yet to revolutionise the way we live, but it was beginning. I remember when Amazon launched, doing virtually all my Christmas shopping through it and feeling so smug that I didn’t have to battle the overflowing car parks to begin my shopping day and end it worn out and underwhelmed by my purchases knowing I’d have to go back again. Amazon was a joy!
But with that role came a darker side, a far more human and far more challenging side to my younger self. Mental Health. It felt to me that a good third of the workforce had an issue with their well-being. More profoundly than feeling a little low, enough that our “duvet day” option was overused. It was then that I did a short but invaluable counselling training course. That course set me on the most incredible career journey but equally has informed my passion for the industry because I know how much it needs nurturing and loving. I know how much these people running the businesses and operating in them, don’t need to be told what to do, they need to be helped to grow.
So for me, leading Fresh Seed and creating an HR company, it has always been about focusing on what the industry needs, not what I know as an HR Director but what you need as a business. Well-being and Leadership Development are at our hearts. Helping you grow without clipping your wings is absolutely paramount to us. And passionately, and sometimes slightly excitedly waving the flag for this precious industry. Creating doesn’t have to conform but it doesn’t have to rebel either.
Learn more about us and how we operate here www.freshseed.co.uk
I’ve worked in the Creative Industry for most of my career and it’s an industry I love, like a best friend. As an industry it never ceases to amaze me with its talent and the way in which it responds and evolves almost overnight, and especially in times of trouble.
Like all industries it has its issues and perhaps in this case the issues come from the speed in which it has grown and responded to the external needs, rather than taking time to address what’s going on internally. And perhaps the sudden growth in which it’s seen in recent years has also co-incided with the growth of the HR industry and so the two haven’t twained comfortably because one is there as a reaction to the other.
But as with all things golden there is a moment when we have to catch our breath and say we can be better. It is this moment that is beginning to rise and I have to say I have never felt so excited, professionally, as I do now! What a time to be in the industry.
With issues such as Mental Health and Well-being, Diversity & Inclusion and the Me Too movement, the industry is looking down the barrel at some gritty, hard to tackle issues. But in order for it to continue to develop the incredible work it does, for the audiences that are more and more savvy and aware, it must be bold enough to take actions to address these issues. For the industry to be taken seriously, for it to grow and avoid imploding internally it must begin to tackle these issues at a grass roots level. This is more than big guns policy and showcase events but addressing that with growth comes acceptance, and asking for help is imperative.
I have seen in my 20+ years in the industry some great supporters come and go. Organisations that are there to support the industry, from recruiters to apprenticeship providers, to accountants and HR. What I’d like to see is a focus from the industry on using these operational suppliers to support them. For those of us, like me, who have grown up with the industry it is as important to us, as it is to you, that we keep the essence of the industry but help you grow effectively.
It is our time to rise, together, so lets embrace what we can.