Ask any five people about their take on the economy, and most likely you’ll hear five different answers. Uncertainty is the only common theme. And what makes things feel uncertain and confusing is that it seems like things are getting better. We all want to believe that we are out of the woods, but underneath it all there is still a lurking FEAR.
Justified or not, the fear isn’t going anywhere. The sting of the last few years is present every time we make a budget decision. And as I speak with leading creatives and marketers about their talent roadmap, it’s clear that fear continues to permeate staffing decisions, as well.
All too often I hear, “I know I need an (insert catchall adjective for ‘great’) Art Director, but I’m just not sure it’s the right time.” So, I say some words about budget. They say some words in halfhearted agreement. And then, often times, conversations arrive at a place where my clients feel comfortable admitting that it’s the fear of making a bad decision that’s causing their delay or indecisiveness, not the lack of budget.
When you combine a strong fear of making a bad decision with a healthy budget, what you end up with is a desire for FLEXIBILITY. In the staffing world we call this flexibility, freelancing. Now, don’t get me wrong. Communications Collaborative is a full-time AND freelance staffing firm. We staff loads of freelance assignments every year. My point is, some positions that should be full-time roles are being filled as freelance or temp, simply because hiring managers are afraid to commit. People remember what it was like having to downsize a few years ago, and quite frankly, don’t want to go through it again.
Here’s what I propose. If you are a hiring manager with a healthy budget and what is really a full-time need, it’s time to get back in the full-time pool. With a long-term position, it will almost always be less expensive to hire someone directly as a full-time employee than it will be to hire a freelancer to work indefinitely. And, now more than ever, full-time candidates are willing to entertain compensation packages of all shapes and sizes, because they are looking for some security of their own. So, before you automatically decide that your long-term, linchpin need is freelance, you need to be sure that you aren’t really paying for the right to be confused and fearful.
A significant portion of the creative market is moving toward a flexible, low commitment workforce. But, be honest about whether or not that is really what you need. It may be time to step out of your comfort zone and declare your organization ready for new permanent creative fixtures. I can tell you that the top talent will come in droves. And with the right team in place, some of the fear may dissipate.