The Talent Agenda: How to Rethink Digital in 2023

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Case Study

The Talent Agenda: How to Rethink Digital in 2023

After a volatile couple of years, the talent agenda is set to be defined, once again, by change in 2023.

The pandemic offered an opportunity to change the face of work forever seeking out new ways of working, customising the employee experience and re-imagining the "and" of our working lives. This picture then dissolved into “The Great Resignation” with employees choosing to think much more about how, why, and where they work.

Mid-2022, the market was at its most competitive with demand outstripping supply, meaning talent had more choice and power than ever before. Businesses were having to look at all aspects of their attraction strategies to access, attract and retain talent. This created a tight market – with the main change around what employees can expect from work. Now, firms from Tech, Media, and Entertainment (M&E) are battling to engage, develop and retain that same in-demand talent as the market shifts again.

Q4 2022 saw the global economic impacts cause a number of companies to pause or slow down their hiring efforts. And whereas in the creative digital space there haven’t been the same major layoffs we’ve seen in the Tech sector, this could be coming if advertising spend reduces or growth slows in the subscription streaming services from consumers tightening their belts. The pressure to show growth in the creative digital sector remains, despite the economy and the increased competition in this space. Therefore, the talent hired last year is now being asked to do more with less as headcount freezes and hiring restrictions are put in place.

TA Strategy approach

This year talent acquisition in Tech, Creative, Digital and Media is likely to become even more competitive and complex. Companies will be increasingly focused on retaining the best, in demand, talent. We’re already seeing this talent want to “stay put” rather than be open to opportunities for fear of moving companies and being last in, first out in any downsizing.

These players should expect to use more advanced analytics and work with outside partners if needed, who can identify, source, and assess top talent, as well as leverage social networks and automated marketing and recruitment campaigns to reach out to potential candidates.

Additionally, as remote work continues to become more commonplace, companies should focus on developing recruiting strategies that consider the increased geographic diversity of their potential candidate pool. They should also look to create innovative and engaging recruitment experiences that reflect the industry's vibrant culture.

Could the market loosen in 2023?

With difficulty of hiring being the story in the past 24 months, the key challenges highlighted by leaders relate to specialist talent. Despite the job openings to unemployment rate being closer to 1:1, than 2:1, the recent technology sector layoffs could unlock access to more interesting talent than ever, particularly for the Media and Creative sectors. However, compensation models from big tech to Media vary drastically, so it might not be viable. Media companies are going to need to look at their compensation packages and get creative to tap into this pool of talent.  

In the UK specifically, there’s a shift towards retaining talent aged 50 and over, which could unlock over 35,000 highly skilled employees in UK alone, adding experience and mitigating the age gap within teams. The main reasons why 50+ talent would come back to work is mainly the cost-of-living crisis and declining retirement funds. Additionally, companies seem to be less likely to mark them as over-qualified and unnecessarily stop the recruitment process, bringing fairness back into the equation.

Another area we are seeing these clients finally get to grips with is a “Total Talent Solution”. The digital industry has long relied on a large pool of freelance talent to deliver projects and productions. However, this tends to be a very informal arrangement, often through personal networks, hiring friends and former colleagues who happen to be available. Sure, they have the payroll or finance processes to ensure these temps or freelancers get paid, but there are often very few controls or measures in place to ensure quality of work or cost efficiency in engaging this part of the workforce. Also, operating through informal personal networks there is no way to ensure diversity, equity or opportunity in this area.

Addressing the industry challenges

The digital-first industries are forecasted to grow by up to 23% by 2030 translating into a 13% increase in tech and IT jobs. In the media and creative space, the current skills shortage created by this growth is felt not only across highly specialised positions, but in all “below the line” roles.

With many digital transformation projects that require high numbers of seasoned professionals, a different and attractive lifestyle has been put forward for a lot of professionals with valuable skills. However, with consumers and shareholders increasingly prioritising quality, the expectations have risen. In the film and TV industry, for example, viewers now want local producers to rise to international standards, but quality requires investment at every level.

As such, the need to develop the required ecosystem for talented professionals is on the rise, with many initiatives focused around enacting the policies required for a healthy pool of freelancers.

Rethink is currently working with major media and tech driven companies helping them attract and hire key talent for full time roles, but also helping to manage and maintain the freelance “roster” to manage costs, drive visibility and efficiency in staffing up projects. Another key area is embedding diversity and inclusion into both perm and freelance hiring.

However, the freelance industry model, based mostly on private relationships can seem off-putting and inaccessible to potential employees from under-represented teams, so making it easier to enter the industry could be the winning strategy. Role security, supporting advantages and the ability to learn on the job could attract more entry level candidates, making it easier to meet the growth demand.

Whereas the tech dream is attracting people to work in these industries, working with a trusted recruitment partner, such as Rethink, can ease the burden of finding quality talent for the next project. With highly experienced teams in the space who have extensive networks, we specialise in finding the team for the next big hit.

We also help organisations independently review the quality, cost and pace of their existing talent acquisition function. Our Contingent Workforce Risk Assessment's dynamic approach is market leading and unique to Rethink. Find out more here!

Authored by
Lee Stebbings
Operations Director - MSP

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