workforce

Part Two: How Does Creative Workforce Planning Help? Interview with Catherine Lang-Cline and Kristen Harris

We recently sat down with the founders of Portfolio Creative to talk about their Workforce Planning service. We had questions, they had answers.

In Part Two of this two-part interview, we learn who Workforce Planning is for and how it works. For more background, check out Part One: What is Creative Workforce Planning?

What type of companies is this geared towards?

C: Workforce Planning is all about building a team, not just finding a person. It could be a small-to-medium company or a corporate department. They have to be big enough to have a marketing function, to already have at least one marketing person, or be ready to build a marketing team.

K: We’ve found that different-sized companies have different needs. For corporate departments, it could be analyzing the team they have and how they can re-skill some of their people as company requirements shift. We can help the department reconfigure, retrain, and work with the team they already have to get to where they need to be. With a small-to-medium company, it’s helping them build their team strategically over time. With budget limitations, they have to be thoughtful about which position they add next; and then in six months when they can afford someone else, who should that be? We’re helping them stage out how they should build their team. It’s both of these audiences, but different solutions that each of them needs.

How does Workforce Planning help larger companies and their teams?

C: The speed of change is a factor, especially for larger companies that have always done things a certain way. With planning they can get people the proper training or development, while also adding in new or temporary people with the skills needed today. Since we started Portfolio Creative we have seen such a revolution in job description changes...I can only imagine what it is going to be like in the next ten years!

K: This may sound like it could be unkind, like we’re saying someone on the team doesn’t fit the company’s future, but really we want people to be thinking ahead about their team. If we see that a current team member doesn’t fit the future needs, then we can figure out how to work with them and help them get there. As opposed to the company getting to that future state without addressing it, and having that person be totally left behind.For a more established department with a bunch of legacy people, going through this process could be very kind. It gives people the opportunity to grow to where the company needs them to be.

C: It is easy to get complacent, we saw that a lot in 2008. We saw people at leadership levels that had not developed any computer skills, they could only direct others but not do any of the work themselves. How could they be in that position? How could their company allow that to happen? We want to help companies avoid this type of situation.

Why is the creative industry ready for Workforce Planning?

C: This work has always existed on some sort of level, but it is not something that has been strong in the creative industry. General consulting companies may do planning work, but not specifically for this niche. I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people where they are saying they don’t know if they need to be on Facebook or Snapchat, or what. They need someone to sit down and help figure out what they really need.

K: Workforce Planning is a known service that companies provide, but not on a very specialized level. Clients ask us to do this work because of the reputation we’ve built. After thirteen years of hiring creatives and building creative teams, it makes sense that we would know the type of roles a company would need, what the new skills are, and what’s coming next.

What type of job titles or roles do you typically see reach out for assistance in workforce planning?

K: For a small-to-medium company it’s typically someone at the Owner or President level. For larger companies and corporate departments, it’s whoever leads the creative or marketing team; it may be a Creative Director, Marketing Director, Marketing VP. Regardless of the title, we need to be working with the team leader and decision maker.

Would you say the best course of action is to start with Workforce Planning, then continue with staffing or recruiting following that?

C: Ideally yes!

K: The short answer is yes, although the answer is also “it depends.” We do have clients who have a good enough strategic understanding that they already know what they need so we can jump straight to helping them find it. However, a lot of companies don’t, and sometimes they think they need X, but we start talking to them and realize that is not what they need at all. Maybe they need two different people, or they need someone to do X just as a short-term project, but Y is actually a full-time position they need. Ideally any company would start with some form of planning first before they jump in and hire.

What is your ultimate goal in implementing this new service?

C: The ultimate goal is that everybody uses this service before they hire anyone. We want every client saying “I think I want this, can you help me write the job description?” We want to train our clients to think things through before they hire somebody. Granted, there are clients that know exactly what they need, maybe it is a replacement for someone who left, but maybe it is not that easy. Maybe someone left and they want to “up the ante” on that role, so what do they need now? What is cutting edge that we might want to look for? It would be great if people were really thoughtful every time they tried to hire someone.

K: Yes, we would love it if everyone did this work to some extent before they hired anyone, because when companies have an opening often they just turn around and look for another of the same. This is the perfect opportunity to pause and think about what you really need, or what you’re going to need. When you have someone already sitting in that seat it’s really hard to decide to make a change. Once the seat is empty that’s when you figure out the next step, next level, next person you need. Do you elevate the role? Do you need slightly different skills than you had before? It’s such a good opportunity and I don’t think people take advantage of it. They just pull out the old job description for the person that left and ask for another one of those. Which sometimes is what they need, but not always.

Freelancing Is The Future of Business

By Catherine Lang-Cline

According to Dustin Haisler, the Chief Innovation Officer of e.Republic, there are currently 53 million people, or 34% of the American workforce, freelancing.

By the year 2020, an estimated 74 million people, 50% of the American workforce, will be freelancing. 

What is causing the shift? First reason, the Millennials. While we have all been discussing the working practices and beliefs of the Millennial workforce as they started to enter the market, something happened: they grew to be a larger demographic than the Baby-Boomer generation. What this means is, if you want to be competitive in business, you are going to have to hire a lot of Millennials, and they are wanting to freelance.

The second reason, everyone else wants to freelance as well. In general, everyone is looking for a lot more life balance and finding their purpose. A lot of that purpose lies in the things that they are very good at. So even the seasoned workers are opting out of “business as usual” and looking for something that is giving them more purpose, more freedom to be with family, aging parents, or to just simply do the things that they want to do. Money may not matter for some as they are setting their own schedules and starting their own businesses. They are measuring success not by money, but by time, the time they get to choose what they want to do. And the time they get to work on things that they love to do.

What is great is that it can still result in positive results for your business. Staff having control of their time does not mean that they will work less. Most people work more, but choose when they will work. It can also help your business by eliminating the cost of hiring and firing. You can hire people as needed. You can afford to have people that you normally could not afford work on special projects for you because you are not hiring them and needing to keep them. You can briefly afford to hire the best in the business because they leave when they have completed the job.

As always, understand how this relationship works. Freelancers and contractors are not employees. Be very clear about this to people coming in who want to serve as a freelancer or consultant, as well as the people on your team. Not doing so could lead to tax implications and employment violations. If you have any concerns about how this is handled, you may want to contact your accountant or look into having a staffing company take on freelancers and contractors as temporary employees. That way, the responsibility of taxes, healthcare, etc. would be the responsibility of the staffing company.

Freelancing is becoming more of the norm. In many ways, this can be a real advantage to your company. You can work with people as they are needed rather than worrying about the cost of hiring, firing and overhead. Plus, you can surround yourself with the professionals that are working with a purpose.

Freelance Prediction: The Future is Now

By Kristen Harris

Freelancing is the future, and it’s here now. Looking at both the current state and future predictions in the American workforce, freelancing is going to continue to grow.

First, a definition: Whether they’re called freelancer, independent contractor, contingent worker, self-employed, free agent, gig worker, or something else, there are a lot of people working outside of a traditional full time employee/employer arrangement. Although the work arrangements may vary, for simplicity, these people are often lumped together under the category “freelancer.”

Depending on which report you read, somewhere between 34-40% of the American workforce today is freelance. That number keeps growing year after year, and is predicted to reach somewhere in the vicinity of 50% by 2020.

Whether you think this is a good thing or not totally depends on your perspective. There are a lot of advantages to freelancing, including schedule flexibility, variety in the work, and a feeling of independence. There are also advantages for companies hiring these freelancers, including the flexibility to scale up or down based on company needs, and the ability to hire for a specific skill set short-term.

There are also some negatives. Freelance work is less predictable, may not be considered a traditionally secure job, and often includes limited or no benefits. This is especially true for certain groups of people included in this total freelancer group, such as on-call workers, independent contractors who basically are running their own small business and need to find their own customers, and part-time workers.

For the companies hiring freelancers, workers may not be as committed to the company’s cause, there is still a talent shortage for certain roles, and often, premium rates are charged to offset the short-term nature of projects. From a legal and HR perspective, it’s also difficult to track and manage all of these different work arrangements.

Recently, this legal area has been particularly concerning. Rulings against large companies like FedEx and Uber regarding their use of independent contractors have caused them to re-look at their work arrangements. Also, over the past several years, more resources have been dedicated to investigating employee misclassification (non-qualified 1099s) at both the state and national levels.

There seems to be a disconnect between predictions for the future of the American workforce (more freelancers) and current government regulations (more employees). Whether you think the growth of freelance work is the wave of the future or the scourge of the universe probably depends on where you sit. But these arrangements will continue to flourish as long as companies and individuals feel the benefits outweigh the negatives. The challenge will be in finding a way to reconcile company and freelancer needs with government rules. Welcome to the future!