Reimagine recruitment and companies can thrive during economic uncertainty

Businesses have faced an astounding number of challenges since the beginning of this decade. From the global pandemic and the breakdown of supply chains to war in Europe – there are some resilient business owners out there who today are now facing the prospect of an uncertain economic climate.  

Data showing the UK is facing an economic downturn along with market turmoil has made businesses evaluate their forecasts and potentially reign in investment and spending. But what can business owners do now to not just survive but thrive? Companies can re-evaluate their culture and the way they recruit, connect and retain talent. 

The genie is out of the bottle

We are all aware of how much the pandemic has changed our working lives.  The hybrid way of working has brought advantages to employees and quite simply there is no way back to the 5-day office culture we all bought into for so long.

The silver lining to the pandemic is that this switch to flexible working has been accelerated by a decade or more.

Just like how the pandemic brought change, can the predicted economic downturn be a chance for companies to re-evaluate and shake up their business model, becoming more responsive to world events and the working landscape? Companies that reimagine the way they work can thrive- particularly if they become more agile when connecting, acquiring and retaining talent.  

When recruiting, companies must acknowledge the desire for more flexibility and freedom in the workplace. Will we see a return to presenteeism during the recession? Potentially, but not on such a scale as pre-covid. 

Ultimately the genie is out of the bottle and people expect to be offered jobs with flexible work and a number of days at home. The proportion of people who are hybrid working has risen in 2022 according to the Office for National Statistics. Their survey also showed more than three-quarters (78%) of those who worked from home in some capacity said that being able to work from home gave them an improved work-life balance.    

Looking specifically at the media industry, joint research from the World Federation of Advertisers and MediaSense showed in 2021 that “flexibility has become table stakes for many businesses seeking to attract and retain talent, with preCovid practices being met with short thrift by employees.” Flexible working is here to stay.

What is freedom?

At Liberty Hive, we value freedom. Because freedom energises people and working communities. Freedom can encompass how, when and where people work. Our platform enables consultants to find a pipeline of work that suits their lifestyle. There are opportunities to apply for short-term roles, parental cover to permanent positions.  

Putting freedom at the heart of the recruitment process also involves giving people the tools to be in control of the process. Our personalised dashboard makes it easy for consultants to upload their details regarding expertise, experience and flexible working preferences. Technology today is enabling freedom in recruitment and letting people take control of the process.

A sense of belonging

We believe one of the most powerful ways to ignite freedom is by honouring individuality – which is why we partner with forward-thinking companies who are building cultures where people feel they belong. 

Today we are seeing a generation that has apparently resorted to ‘quiet quitting’. Is this term just another way to explain dissatisfaction? Have we normalised a work culture where people are expected to perform additional duties outside of their job description and if people do not pick up this additional work they are considered as having quit?

Companies must wake up to this dissatisfaction and look to create a forward-thinking culture that listens to its employees, is inclusive and champions flexible working. There is potentially a generation who are dissatisfied with working life and business owners could tap into this talent by shaking up their work culture creating an environment where people feel they can belong.  

Tapping into freelance

Here at Liberty Hive we’ve seen a rise in media agencies seeking freelancers. Before the pandemic, creative agencies were leading the way recruiting freelances however the rest of the media world was a step behind in tapping up this pool of talent. Media agencies thought that by using freelancers there would be a risk that they’d not be able to service clients’ growing demands and ensure confidentiality.  Today Freelancing has become normalised, allowing many to work in a new agile way that has helped to retain some great talent that otherwise would have left our industry.

Offering more freelance positions will not only help companies in all sectors stay agile in times of economic worry, but it can open up a much wider talent pool than solely focusing on permanent roles. Joint research from the World Federation of Advertisers and MediaSense showed in 2021 “an industry in crisis” and stated the “talent pool is simply not big enough”. 77% of respondents recognised that there is a high or some scarcity of talent in their organisation and 67% of people highlighted how scarcity is proving a major blocker towards growth. 

Media agencies simply must embrace freelancers. Arguably the emerging workforce is more suited to freelance work. Gen Z is embracing multi-hyphenated careers and can expect to have tens of jobs in their lifetime. Compare this to just a generation ago when a job for life was still a possibility.

We are seeing companies opting to turn the tables on traditional recruitment and at Liberty Hive we believe the future is about connecting businesses to the right people. By dialling up freelancing positions and flexibility in the workplace businesses can re-engage not just Gen Z but everyone. Recruitment is one of the most powerful drivers of inclusion – and one of the greatest blockers.

Women are one of the largest demographics to request flexible working and men are not far behind them. Today businesses can attract parents who wish to return to work following a period out of work caring for children. People who wish to pursue a side hustle but continue to work can be hired by companies that have embraced flexibility and freedom. By being inclusive companies open up a wealth of talent. 

Thomas Bailey, a freelance consultant on Liberty Hive’s platform says;

“Hybrid working allows me to strike the right balance between being a present and engaged parent whilst also allowing me to pursue and develop my career in media. Additionally, working as a freelancer means I am regularly met with new, refreshing challenges that extend my experience further.”

Reimagining recruitment involves a shift in culture for companies too. Many people today don’t just think about pay. Many are looking to work for a company that has a positive culture, is trustworthy, and importantly authentic. These values can be seen in companies that adopt flexible working- trusting employees to work at home and get the job done.

Let tech do the heavy lifting

By moving away from traditional recruitment, companies can take advantage of technology that today can match companies with talent in hours or days rather than weeks and months. Forward-thinking leads to affordability – ditching the costly consultants and tapping into talent directly will help businesses get the right people for the job, ultimately benefiting the bottom line. Here at Liberty Hive we see the future with zero commission fees. With a subscription model, we are disrupting the industry and giving employers and employees control. We have created a community for people to connect directly with each other and businesses have the freedom to find these connections, with the opportunity to place an unlimited amount of roles.

Media companies such as Omnicom Media Group (OMG) are benefiting from this connected community, Anna Britton, Group Director, Leading Talent Attraction for OMG, UK says;

“Omnicom Media Group have been big supporters of Liberty Hive since launching nearly 2 years ago. Disrupting the traditional marketplace with something that supports great talent in our industry can only be a good thing. Liberty Hive puts people at the heart of their offering whilst their technology makes it quick and easy to connect to the right people.”

By reimagining the recruitment process businesses are safeguarding their futures. Embracing flexible working and empowering workforces with freedom will widen the talent pool, increase inclusivity and help businesses thrive and grow. Businesses are more agile than we think – when Government’s across the world locked down and stopped entire sectors from working during the pandemic, we saw the hospitality and retail industries entirely rethink their business models. It’s time now for businesses to adopt an agile and flexible approach to connecting with talent if they are to thrive. 

By Laura Braithwaite and Kate Merritt, co-founders, Liberty Hive