Freelancer Resources

We want to build a community that is connected, that can collaborate and that can be understood. We want to be here for you.

We aim to create a centralised platform where you can find this kind of activity. A directory of freelancers and a way for clients to understand the language to use when procuring your services.

We would like to help you access financial support and training to help you become stronger and more resilient to deal with the future of work for you. To do so we have listed the activity we know about but feel free to give us more….

Please complete our consultation here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd01Ug3kw6VmQL21pz_a7BLsg0zdai2Wls88z87WSXBeIrIww/viewform

  • Sarah’s websitewww.freshseed.co.uk
  • Amy’s website: www.amydaltonhardy.co.uk 
  • Recruiter: Beyond the Book: Emma Head Freelance consultant
  • Recruiter: My Next Level: Claire Summerfield
  • Recruiter: Blue Skies recruitment
  • Book: Alison Grade: The Freelance Bible 
  • Book: Sarah Townsend: Survival Skills for Freelancers
  • Local Authorities: WDC & Coventry City Council for Grants and EAP service
  • Funding: www.stwater.co.uk; www.leamingtontowncentre.gov.uk
  • The CWLEP Business Support Teams
  • Website: www.opentowork.uk
  • Website: https://freelancetaskforce.co.uk 
  • Website: www.finditinCW.co.uk
  • Membership: IPSE, CIF, Arts Council
  • Co-working spaces: Mill Street, Meet by the Park, the Neighbourhood, Airdeska
  • Networks: Creative Cakestorm, Talk Business, Coventry First, Coventry Champions, BNi, Creative Leamington’s Creative Mornings; The Connexions; Donut Time
  • Coaches: Anna Jester, Sally Dhillon (Career Mums) , Mike Pagan, Kim Carr
  • Creative Resources: www.createcentraluk.com;

Back up at work – is it important

In our work as HR professionals we have to have steps in place to ensure we are adhering to a professional code of conduct, to protect our clients and our own due diligence. But beyond the legal framework of these actions there is a moral reason to seek back up: To engage with a wider more diverse way of thinking that may ensure we don’t walk blindly into situations we should be avoiding. And to give us the sense of moral connection when faced with the many issues we see as an HR Professional.

This back up is powerful and far from being fluffy, it is the process for safeguarding both our professional integrity and our own well-being. It amazes us therefore, how many people don’t have the same principles. Back up is a positive action which safeguards your thinking and also gives you a diversity of thought. And in today’s world is a collaborative approach to a world which can easily feel siloed.

Whatever form back up comes in, be it mentors, colleagues to bounce ideas around, friends or more strategic partners, the engagement can only lead to success – success in business growth and personal growth. If all we are here for is make money this ensures we do so efficiently – not just ethically – and steers us towards our successful outcome.

But as the world is changing and there is more demand for more workplace ethics, and better behaviours in work, is it time to reach out for more back up? To avoid our own biases or financial errors and to help our own well-being? Does this back up not only create more diversity but help us sleep at night.

After one too many sleepless nights, fretting over business issues, isn’t it better to know there’s someone in your corner who’s championing your cause and helping spread the word of your work? We think so.

If you would like to talk to us about our Non Executive Director programme please get in touch. We offer a competitive price for our experience and a back up for you and your business that is priceless.

It’s not about you, it’s about me….

Ah the old familiar dumping line. The line that says, quite loudly, I just don’t like you anymore, I don’t get you and I’m not interested in you any longer. Painful to hear and yet commonly used. How is this relevant to HR you might ask? Well, in the minds of Fresh Seed people, VERY!

All too often we hear the familiar lines, well we don’t really have an HR function, we find them boring, or we have contracts so we don’t really need anything more. And then we feel like the desperate needy one, as we try to explain that HR just isn’t only legals but so much more, to an audience who in the most part have made up their minds and moved on. So for those who are interested let me give you a little more insight into what the function can do:

Workforce planning.

Why is this a thing? Imagine you have a TV show to film, edit and submit. The staff have enough to do to get the programme in the can, the pressure to submit in time and in budget. There are issues with staff but because of the overwhelming pressures to get the job done, your producers, directors and the rest of the crew just have to get on, there’s no time to listen to issues – even those inside work – so you ignore them. Everyone is unhappy but it’s just the nature of the business.

So here’s an alternative, because we know HR on site doesn’t work. How about you re-arrange the headcount to include someone who understands the filming process, AND is purely there to manage the people. A programme manager if you like. When you plan out your budget, look at who you’re taking on, differently – what roles can you fill with a less experienced person so that ultimately the budget is stretched to include this extra role. By doing so your load will be lighter because you’re not dealing with the management of people, your duty of care is adhered to, and you start to get a reputation for being the great team to work with because, you actually considered the humans in the room not just the roles that get the job done.

Duty of care

One of the most common phrases used by Fresh Seed. It seems no-one understands it’s not just about physical injury but well-being too. And no well-being is NOT fluffy. The industry has, a huge Mental Health issue – the recent UKIE census results found that 31% of those who responded had Mental Health issues, in an industry that is male dominated this is a significant concern and we believe only the tip of the iceberg for the industry as a whole. So your duty of care is serious. In all likelihood it’s the next MeToo issue waiting to rear it’s tragic head. Duty of Care is paramount. You need to plan it into your workforce, your policies and your behaviours. All the issues around Diversity & Inclusion, around managing people, around avoiding legal issues and changing your behaviours come down to your Duty of Care. If you’re baffled about what that means for you, get in touch and we’ll talk you through it.

Processes

Stop, don’t leave, this bit is more interesting than you think! Ok so it’s probably not that interesting but to us it’s another key area that with improvement overcomes so many gripes and moans and ultimately the issues you leave at HR’s doorstep to unpick.

Imagine if someone were to audit your processes and make your working life easier. Why wouldn’t you take it? We know, because you don’t know it exists, except it does, in your HR function.

The School of Misinformation

We think at Fresh Seed, that there’s something you don’t know about, something that HR has been hiding and you’ve not known to ask. We call it the “School of Misinformation” because you only ask and seek to find out about the stuff you know about. And somewhere in your heuristics – your brain short cuts – you haven’t found out about how to really manage people. Probably you don’t really care about it, because you do the job you do and managing people is just a small part of it. That’s where we come in; for us we know People Management is actually a science, an art and a skill set that you might find is more interesting than you thought. So here’s a little task, listen to a podcast, or watch a TED talk about managing people and then come back and talk to us about what you didn’t know was involved in this process.

We LOVE managing people at Fresh Seed. We see it as an art form and science all rolled into one. For us the art is in the behavioural sciences we use and the legal frameworks of employment law, plus a little bit of process know how. We know all of this as Organisation Design & Development and we think when it’s framed this way it’s much more accessible than HR.

We also think that much of stuff that’s left at HR’s doorstep are things you can’t deal with or don’t know how to and that’s how HR ended up with the reputation it has, because it seems to own the problems you just can’t get your head around and frankly, to you it’s probably really boring!

So perhaps, if you’ve read this you’ll get curious about the HR function and talk to us differently, and perhaps explore what we can do, or give us a call and find out more about this mysterious world you thought was all bad.

Flexing your furlough

It’s been an interesting few months as we’ve continued to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on the workforce. The initial shock of lockdown has now settled into uncertainty about the future and for many, how they return to work. Here we focus on the tangible actions you can take to manage the workforce back into work.

  • Who do you need back in work?
    For those who have furloughed all your workforce, or even some of your workforce, this is a time to think about what skills you need back in work and what work is a priority. You can scale up the priority list until you’re back at full capacity but be mindful that whoever you bring back your duty of care remains, and whilst expecting a little extra from them in these times is acceptable, expecting staff to maintain over and above in the longer term, is not acceptable. So for example, if you’re bringing back senior management, bring back some of the support team too.
  • What hours can you flex?
    The scheme allows you to furlough part time, so you can figure out the hours here. But again if you’re looking at bringing some back and not all of your workforce be careful about who you bring back and how much work you expect them to do. The scheme specifies that you must have a written agreement of the hours agreed with each staff member; if you need template documents for this please get in touch.
  • What are you expected to pay?
    • From August you can claim 80% (capped at £2500) but you must begin to pay NIC and pension contributions.
    • In September you can claim 70% of pay (capped at £2187.50) and you must pay NIC and pension contributions.
    • In October you can claim 60% of pay (capped at £1875) and you must pay NIC and pension contributions.
    • The scheme is set to end thereafter although there may be exceptions for some industries, we are yet to have clarity on this.
  • How can you look after all your staff, furloughed or working?
    A lot of employers are facing this challenge, how do you navigate the distinctive split between those who are still furloughed and those who are not? There may be resentment on both sides; those who have continued to work or are now returning may well feel begrudged that they held the forte or indeed feel that those furloughed got off lightly. And conversely those furloughed may well feel they’ve been unfairly cast out and therefore re-engaging them may cause issues.
  • So what can you do?
    Communicate! It’s no surprise really that there’s no magic HR trick that we can give you here. It is as simple as communication – and listening to both sides – to over come the challenges re-uniting the workforce will bring. But whilst communication is simple, how you do so is not. Employees need to be able to safely voice their issues, and feel heard. For many there will be real tangible concerns, childcare, shielding and anxiety in many forms. This pandemic has amplified anxiety for the hardest and most robust of people, so those who are suffer ordinarily will have felt it more intensely. BE HUMAN. And equally, what you expect of your staff, and how you plan to reform the work you do and the business you offer, will have changed since March. This future short term or otherwise needs explaining. Finally, keep listening. You can use surveys, and 121’s but you must keep talking.
  • How we work has changed during these times but does it work for you?
    This is a subject we’ll blog about in more detail but to help you with tangible actions, we detail below what steps you need to take next.

    For many working remotely has been a huge success; it’s safe to say that the debate over whether home working can work has now closed. But as we begin to return to working in spaces, will working from home be an option you keep? And flexible working too? If these are serious considerations, you will need to plan the return to the office and working from home arrangements carefully. How you rotate staff, how you allow flexible working or working from home arrangements to happen and what the boundaries are around working in office spaces. Once you have planned these things carefully, you will need agree changes to contracts of employment with employees. For any help with any of the above, we will help you plan and provide you with templates, letters and documents to manage this process.

Freelancers are the lifeblood of the industry.

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.

Leading out of Lockdown

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.

https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm?utm_source=hse.gov.uk&utm_medium=refferal&utm_campaign=coronavirus&utm_content=home-page-banner

Remember to consider:

  • Social distancing
  • Hand sanitisation & respiratory infection
  • Managing infected employees
  • And finally, can you use video content to demonstrate both the measures you are taking for your staff and possibly customers.

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.

The Rise of the Creative Industries

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.

What is your leadership style?


LEADERSHIP STYLES

Leadership Self-Assessment
Complete this leadership self-assessment to get a sense about your leadership skills and interest-level. Use what you learn as a starting point to consider if a leadership role is right for you, as well as to get a sense of your current leadership strengths and areas where you may need to approve.
Note: There are no right or wrong answers here – this is a self-assessmentso answer honestly!
For each item, fill in the number that corresponds with the statement thatbest describes how you feel.
Strongly Agree 5. Somewhat Agree 4. Neither Agree Nor Disagree 3.
Somewhat Disagree 2. Strongly Disagree 1.

1. Delegating work to others comes easy to me.


2. Communicating clearly with others is easy to me.


3. I enjoy engaging with other people on an interpersonal level.


4. I am proactive in offering constructive criticism.


5. I place a high value on treating others fairly.


6. Seeking advice from others is something I do often.


7. Change energizes me.


8. Problem-solving is one of my strengths.


9. I am comfortable with being a role model.


10. Working as part of a team energizes me.


11. I am comfortable coaching and mentoring others.


12. Directing the work of others is comfortable for me.


13. I have the ability to set and accomplish goals.


14. I enjoy implementing new methods and strategies.



15. I am proactive in providing praise to others.



16. I am comfortable admitting and correcting my own mistakes.



17. I have strong conflict management skills.



18. Diversity and inclusion are important to me.



19. I enjoy really listening to what others have to say.



20. When I see problems, I immediately look for possible solutions.



Grand Total


 Leadership Self-Assessment Results Scoring Instructions:
1. Total each column.
2. Add the total of each column to calculate your grand total score. 
3. What is your final score?  

Results
Please note this is a self-assessment based on your own perception of
how much you agree with these statements. It is not a true indicator of
aptitude, nor does it necessarily reflect how others see you.

What does your score mean?
50+: If your grand total score is 50 or above, this indicates you see
yourself as having many of the skills and tendencies necessary to succeedin a leadership role. It may also indicate a leadership role (formal or
informal) appeals to you.
49-: If your grand total score 49 or lower, you do not currently perceive
yourself as having strengths in key areas skills and abilities associated
with success in a leadership role. This may mean that a leadership role is not particularly appealing to you, or it may simply serve to help you
identify areas where improvement may be needed before seeking out a
leadership position.

Reflections

Use this assessment to help you identify your leadership strengths (items with the highest numeric scores) and opportunities for growth (items
with the lowest numeric scores). From there, create an action plan.

Reflect on: 
What are your greatest leadership strengths?What are your
opportunities for growth as a leader?
Action Plan:
How can you capitalize on your strengths?What can you do to improve inareas where you have opportunities for growth?

Are you leading the change?

There is much debate around at the moment about what parts of our old lives will reform in the new.  But there is nothing more exciting than opportunity and that’s what this is; opportunity.  Change is not for everyone but as we come through the fear, the anxiety and the challenges that Covid-19  has created, I hope we see this is our time to create a new 21st Century way of operating.  

Working life has changed, not just because of Covid-19 but because of technology and science.  What better time to be part of the change and create something positive and new.  With the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, being revered for her 4 day working week and the way she’s handled this crisis, are we ready to be part of the difference in our own world or are we still looking to others to lead the way?  

The argument and science behind flexible working and working from home have been around a long time.  We know from a scientific, researched point of view they work.  We also know from our own recent experiences working from home or flexibly is no longer up for debate, it’s happened, albeit without the catch up over coffee moments but productivity wise, it’s clearly working well.

But perhaps beyond the science and the research, it works because we have time to get out and exercise in daylight hours, we get to care for elderly parents or children and it works because the environment isn’t plundered by cars and traffic and over use.  Perhaps now, we’ll shift the conversations from it doesn’t work for us, to how can we make it work for us?

Perhaps now we can take a step beyond this, to be part of forming the new and better 21st Century working world. 

Furlough update No.2

A lot has changed since we issued the last update, it seems a lot can change in a month! No sooner do we have clarity on something, it changes which must be leading to a lot of confusion beyond the world of HR, if even the seasoned HR professionals are finding it hard to keep up!  Hopefully now that the claims line is open the detail behind the scheme will change less frequently.  To find out the latest, please give us a call and we will endeavour to help.  If the question relates to Coronavirus, our support is completely free. 

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