Every June in the booming “Hipster-Ville” of Brooklyn, New York, an innovative 5-day event called Northside Festival takes place exploring the latest advances in tech, marketing, music, content, politics, etc. (the list goes on and on…). Some even call it the South by Southwest of NYC. Havas People New York had the chance to attend some of the talks, keynotes and networking events throughout the week to learn about emerging tech and media innovations that we could use to improve upon and grow our services. In this 3-part blog series, we’ll summarize the most beneficial takeaways in talent marketing and today’s job market.
First up – a discussion entitled “Tech Policy and Shaping the Workforce of the Future,” featuring speakers from Airbnb, Tech.NYC and Perkins Coie. In a world where freelancers and contract workers are the thriving power of our workforce (35% of U.S. workers*) we have to question what affect this will have on company structures, recruitment practices and our job market. Many employer brands are built with emphasis of growing with a company long-term; steady benefits, corporate community and career development are all pretty big sells. But we have to acknowledge that soon these key values behind an employer brand will change. Organizations will have to update their brand pillars and values to reflect what this new, independent workforce wants: Flexibility, remote opportunities, progressive restructuring etc. These workers will be looking for jobs with companies that are reputable and unified, but still sustainable for short-term or part-time employees.
So what does this freelance-sustaining company look like exactly? For one, their benefits will be portable – imagine a plan tied directly to an employee, NOT their employer. The company will most likely be tied to a modernized union that can bargain and provide new forms of training, wages and working condition laws – if you’ve never heard of Freelancers Union, definitely give their site a quick skim-through. And the trend of freelance-recruitment platforms and co-working spaces will adjust to have stronger partnerships with companies who need to staff and manage their independent workforce. Some are already ahead of the curve, with companies like Spotify and Microsoft renting out space at WeWork offices for certain teams and contingent workers.
Companies won’t be the only ones who have to adapt, so let’s shift gears to focus on these freelance workers a bit. Another talk at the festival featured Kathryn Minshew, co-founder of The Muse and author of The New Rules of Work – a highly recommended read to help you navigate your profession in this ever-changing job market. The weird truth is that traditional “career paths” and planning will die out and people will have the autonomy to pursue temporary jobs focused on skill development. Minshew, however, says there is one part of work that won’t be changing anytime soon… networking. For the first year of The Muse’s life, she says she would do 5 to 8 networking events a week. These events and talent-matching platforms (i.e. Contently) will be the key to success for any freelancer in this economy.
Don’t fret just yet though… the rise of the freelancer is a slow and steady train that is gaining momentum, but still has a long journey ahead. In the next several years, companies should consider revising their brands and policies to be freelance-friendly, and workers should be aware of the benefits of how their roles could become contingent in the future. The freelance boom is coming. It’s coming to liberate all of the creators, disrupters, designers, and go-getters. Get excited, and get ready.
Kelsey Lyon, Account Executive
* Freelancing in America: 2016 survey, released by Freelancers Union in October 2016.
Late last week I started to see a number of tweets and posts from “prominent” sports journalists lamenting another round of layoffs at a major sports entertainment company. These layoffs affected everyone from longstanding on-air talent, to new, emerging data whizzes, and the support staff behind the scenes who make everything possible.
In total, something like 100+ people were let go. A big chunk in an ever-shrinking industry. The company doing the layoffs hasn’t always had the best reputation as an employer and certainly was catching backlash for this most recent cost-cutting manoeuvre. And that’s worth mentioning because what I saw in the posts from the actual ex-employees was rather impressive. Sure a few folks took the opportunity to stick it to their old employer, but the majority were actually very sincere about the time they spent there, the work they did, and most frequently the people they worked with.
Many of these people are obviously media trained and would never publish something that could jeopardise their career, but the amount of honest love for their colleagues whom they wouldn’t share an “office” with anymore was really astounding.
For all the faults of their former company, the people who were and are still employees built something important there. What they built was a community of coworkers who grew into a family. It’s because of that familial feeling that I wasn’t reading a bunch of nasty gossip or negativity about the company. I was reading and hearing genuine positivity that even in light of layoffs put the company in question in a fairly good light.
The reality of business is there are times where costs are going to be cut or hard calls have to be made. If we can cultivate a culture of togetherness and camaraderie those tough decisions won’t be any easier to make, but those individuals who do move on will hopefully do so with positive memories and impressions of their time.
Tim Middleton, Agency Director