ManageP r o a c t i v e ly 3 steps for getting ahead of your marketing, creative & digital staffing needs. As marketing channels continue to proliferate, marketing organizations are relying more on flexible workforce strategies to close the gap between their teams’ capacity and the need to cover the growing requirements of emerging platforms and channels. Specific technical requirements and positions in high demand such as mobile app development place a strain on organizations that are trying to effectively navigate traditional as well as emerging channels. Finding ways to harness a flexible workforce is mission critical for hiring managers in marketing, digital, and creative organizations. In 2012, Aquent commissioned a survey of 580 marketing, creative and digital hiring managers to uncover flexible workforce trends in their departments. In this paper, we share the findings of the survey, examine the trends, and provide a three-step process to help you shift toward a proactive approach when it comes to meeting your organization’s workforce requirements.
2 Manage Proactively.The current landscapeOur survey illuminates several key trends and lessons learned inusing a flexible workforce: • Flexible workforce solutions are a critical part of successful marketing and creative organizations • Gaps in capacity and technical expertise drive outsourcing • Many hiring managers react to, instead of plan for, additional staffing needs • Managers continue to shoulder a large workload • Proactive workforce management practices pay offLet’s examine each one more closely.
3 Manage Proactively.Flexible workforce solutions are acritical part of marketing andcreative organizationsNearly two-thirds of marketing and creative teams leverage some form of anexternal workforce to help meet their marketing objectives (Figure 1).Figure 1: Average organizational allocationof marketing & creative work 2% Outsourced Project Teams Of that external workforce, independent contractors 7% make up the majority with STAFFING FIRM 10%, followed by ad agencies 8% EMPLOYEES (8%) and staffing firm AD AGENCIES employees (7%). 10% INDEPENDANT CONTRACTORS 72% IN-HOUSE EMPLOYEES Note: percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding
4 Manage Proactively.Gaps in capacity and technicalexpertise drive outsourcingMore than 70% of hiring managers look to external resources when addressingchallenges with staff capacity or specific technical skills or knowledge (Figure 2).Figure 2: Reasons for outsourcing marketing & creative work 3% Fill-in for absences 3% Try before buying Other reasons for out- sourcing creative work 6% include the desire to free COST up internal resources for SAVINGS other projects (9%), to 8% address issues related to HEADCOUNT FREEZE hiring freezes within the 43% organization (8%), and 9% for cost savings (6%). FREE UP INTERNAL STAFF STAFF CAPACITY 29% EXPERTISE OR TECHNICAL SKILLS
5 Manage Proactively.Many hiring managers react to,instead of plan for, additionalstaffing needsThe findings show that nearly 6 out of 10 managers are reactive in their approach tostaffing needs, meaning they only hire temporary workers when workloads becomeexcessive or they lack expertise in a given area (Figure 3). Only about 3 in 10 manag-ers are proactive, hiring prior to the start of a project (19%) or staffing up to meet alaunch date or deadline (9%).Figure 3: Typical approach to staffing a new project Reasons for a reactive approach vary, with the most likely scenarios ONLY ADD STAFF IF WORKLOAD GETS EXCESSIVE/NEED ADDITIONAL EXPERTISE 58% including the fact that urgent and important projects tend to take STAFF UP the energy away from BEFORE PROJECT 19% strategic efforts. Also, the use of flexible workforce solutions is still a new business approach, andDOESN’T STAFFUP REGARDLESS 14% hiring managers tend to think in terms of adding internal staff rather than STAFF UP TO MEET 9% identifying ways to harness DEADLINE the power of a flexible internal/external solution.0% 35% 70%
6 Manage Proactively.Managers continue Steps for proactiveto shoulder a large managementworkload Ultimately, the survey data highlights that aThe survey revealed that the number of hours reactive approach to staffing and recruitingin a typical workweek continues to increase- a contingent workforce can affect both the-more managers are working between 41 to manager’s stress level and the team’s overall50 hours per week. Unfortunately, managers ability to reach business goals. However, therewho both believe their work life is extremely are steps managers can take to be more proactivestressful and who strongly agree that they lack in their recruiting and hiring approach. In thenecessary resources to accomplish their goals following pages, we explore these three stepsare significantly more likely to work 51 hours or for becoming a more proactive marketing andmore per week. creative hiring manager:Proactive workforce 1. Anticipate how your annual plan canmanagement practices (and will) changepay off 2. Continually evaluate your current team’sThe research also highlighted that being performance and skillsproactive pays. Nearly half of the managers 3. Always recruit, even if you don’t have an(47%) who are proactive in addressing their open positionstaffing needs say their last hire was an excellentskills match, which is significantly higher thanthe managers who are reactive (37%) or thosewho do not staff up at all (37%). Additionally,managers who say their work lives are notextremely stressful are significantly more likelyto staff up prior to the start of a project comparedto those who find their work stressful.
7 Manage Proactively.Step 1Anticipate how your annual plan can(and will) changeIt’s likely that you spend a significant amount of time crafting your quarterly and annualplans. With your strategy carefully laid out and support tactics, budgets, and resources clear,the path to execution appears straightforward. However, no matter how hard you work tostick to it, circumstances beyond your control can cause you to veer off course, leaving youscrambling for the appropriate resources.The proliferation of media for mobile devices is the perfect example—this is the hottestchannel for marketers to master. The dynamics of this channel illustrate how marketing andcreative departments have been forced to quickly adapt to new technology, and, as a result,revise their most carefully laid plans and strategies. The device platform, development tools,distribution strategies, and content all play critical roles, and organizations have had to adjustquickly to master them.More than 40% of the hiring managers we surveyed indicated that mobile app developers arein extremely high demand (Figure 4). The majority of those managers depend on externalresources to fill these positions. Roughly one in four turn to either boutique or full-serviceagencies (28%) or independent contractors (24%), and roughly equal percentages utilizeoutsourced project teams (15%) or staffing firm employees (14%) to fill the need.Figure 4: Jobs that are currently in demand 10-point scale: 0-Extremely low demand, 10-Extremely high demand Average Rating Mobile App Developers 23% 34% 43% 7.6 User Experience Designer 40% 37% 24% 6.8 Interaction/UI Designer 37% 39% 23% 6.8 Front End Developers 39% 38% 23% 6.7 Information Architect 44% 34% 23% 6.6Interactive Project Managers 46% 36% 18% 6.5 0% 50% 100% Low Demand (0-6) High Demand (7, 8) Extremely High Demand (9, 10)
8 Manage Proactively.Given the rapid rate of change in today’s business climate, it may not be feasible topredict everything that might force you to leverage an external flexible workforce.However, you may be able to better embrace the constant flux that’s now the normby asking the following questions:1. What new technologies or communications vehicles might require you to augment your existing team’s skill set?2. What do you know about your customers and competition that might require you to get a new product to market faster?3. If your industry is highly regulated, are there any new legal mandates forthcoming that might require you to change your product strategy and messaging?4. What are your recurring big-ticket projects? Do they overlap?5. What percentage of your recurring projects do you outsource and why?6. What percentage of the work completed last year was unexpected?7. What percentage of the unexpected work did you outsource?8. When you did outsource the work, what were the costs?9. Do you have headcount for more permanent employees? If yes, is there any value in keeping those roles as contract positions?Anticipating what might change over the course of a year will help you become more proactiveby understanding what external resources you might need and when. More important, thisknowledge will allow you to seek out relationships with external partners that can help you beadaptable and staffed appropriately for any unexpected shifts in the market.
9 Manage Proactively.Step 2Continually evaluateyour existing team’sperformance and skillsWith the evolution of technical platforms and the emergence Many organizationsof new channels, you need to continually evaluate your employ decouplingteam in terms of alignment with current and future work. initiatives where strategicThis exercise puts you in a proactive mindset as newwork comes into your organization. work is separated from tactical workAnticipating and developing new skills within your team isideal. If you can’t send your team out for training, it might and handled bybe good idea to bring in an expert for a limited engagement. different people.They can work alongside your permanent employees andinject some much-needed knowledge of a new technology.Another way to approach a self-assessment of your teamis to slice up your project work by the skillsets required andthe level complexity of the work, rather than by project,product line, or organizational structure. Many organizationsemploy decoupling initiatives where strategic work isseparated from tactical work and handled by differentpeople. For example, the core team performs work thatis highly visible and original (strategic), while productionand iterative (tactical) tasks are performed by more juniorteam members or by external resources. And perhaps one-time strategic initiatives go to an external resource becausethe technical skill sets are too specialized for your team toadopt without putting other priorities at risk.
10 Manage Proactively.Here are some questions to ask as you evaluate your team: 1. How consistent are your team’s job descriptions with the actual day-to-day work? 2. What are their strengths? 3. What are their weaknesses? 4. How much time do they spend working on things that are outside of their skill sets? 5. Are you asking some of your team members to do production work in addition to the highly strategic and original creation? 6. Do you have simpler, tactical work that could be handed off to newer team members or external resources to free up your core team? 7. What’s your gut feeling about how happy your team is? 8. Has your team taken time to pursue professional development opportunities? 9. What does your team need to look like in five years? In two years? In six months? What is the gap and how can you move your team in that direction? 10. Are there specific technical skills that you need your team to develop or that you need to acquire from outside? 11. Designers and writers often need to cross the boundaries into coding... Is your team learning the latest technical skills that they need to develop for emerging platforms?However you approach this exercise, ultimately you want to achieve an understanding ofyour current situation, as it relates to what your future needs will be. This puts you in a moreempowered and proactive position when it comes to making staffing decisions.
11 Manage Proactively.Step 3Always recruit, even ifyou don’t have an openpositionAs our survey indicated, 58% of managers expand their Aquent’s Heads Upteam only when the workload becomes excessive or when mobile app andadditional expertise is needed. Other situations might MyAquent portal allowinclude long-term employee absences, unexpecteddepartures, or seasonal spikes in workload. Knowing that talent in our networkthese situations will most likely arise in your organization, to update our recruitersyou can increase your launch speed by having a pool of immediately when theypre-qualified resources. are available to work forThe challenge here is the time required. Given everything our clients.marketing and creative leaders must juggle on a daily basis,building and managing an active pipeline of talent can be adaunting task. Continuously sourcing candidates, particularlyfor in-demand positions such as Mobile App Developers,User Experience Designers, and Interaction Designers/UIcan be particularly time consuming. Maintaining relation-ships with active and passive job seekers on your own is afull-time job in itself. Knowing when a great candidate isavailable, or is about to become available, is key.
12 Manage Proactively.Regardless of what process you have in place for hiring contingent resources, it is importantthat you assess that process by asking the following questions:1. Who was the best source of candidates for your most recent opening?2. How many applicants did you receive?3. Did you feel like you received a significant number of qualified candidates?4. When you consider the skills gap of your team, did you see those skills in the candidates?5. Did you feel your HR department was fully involved in the recruiting process?6. How many resumes did you receive for your most recent opening?7. How many people did you interview for a single opening?8. Did you review their portfolio, their wireframes, or their code?9. Did you assess their skills on specific software applications?10. How long did it take from job posting to actual start date?11. Would you consider your last hire a successful hire? If not, why not?12. Would you consider your hiring and onboarding process efficient?When you add all of the hours spent finding temporary candidates, reviewing resumes,and interviewing and onboarding new employees… how much time did it take?For contingent positions in particular, your answer should be in days or weeks, not months.
13 Manage Proactively.ConclusionMarketing and creative teams are being stretched in terms of theirworkload capacity and skills with emerging technology. As a hiringmanager, you need to determine how best to balance the workbetween internal and external resources and find ways to either buildcapacity and technical expertise within your team, or acquire it fromexternal resources.Based on our survey, your organization is likely to use some combinationof internal and external resources to complete marketing and creativeprojects. Additionally, you are likely to see projects come up tooquickly for the organization to respond fast enough to relieve thepressure. The reactive nature of these situations can lead to additionalstress for you and your team. This is where these proactive stepscome in: anticipate, evaluate, and recruit. Anticipate your futureproject needs, evaluate your team and identify the gaps in capacityand skill set, and continuously seek future team members who canhelp you move your team forward. Your internal and external partnerscan help with these evaluation tasks as you come up with the solutionto get ahead of your staffing needs.
14 Manage Proactively.Marketing and CreativeWorkforce Trends SurveyInformationThis survey was conducted online by Inavero on behalf of Aquent,and included 580 responses from marketing, creative, and digitalprofessionals. It spans a variety of industries and organization sizesacross the U.S., providing commentary from industry professionalson how their marketing, creative, and interactive teams manage theirmarketing, digital, and creative needs. More than half of all respondentsworked for companies with a global reach, and one third reportedleveraging marketing resources outside of the U.S.The survey took place in June and July, 2012. Respondents includedmarketing, creative, and digital professionals on lists provided byAquent as well as respondents from an independent online panel ofmarketing leaders. With a pure probability sample of 580, one couldsay with 95% confidence that the overall results have a sampling errorof +/- 4.1% points. The sampling error for data from sub-samples ishigher and varies.
15 Manage Proactively.About AquentAquent is the only global staffing company dedicated to marketingand creative services exclusively for Fortune 1000 companies. Theworld’s most renowned global brands come to Aquent for high-caliberfreelance talent. Its division, Vitamin T, provides mid-sized and adagency clients with faster, easier access to in-demand interactivetalent. Aquent and Vitamin T have built an impressive network ofmore than 400,000 marketing and creative services professionals,including print and interactive designers, UX designers and developers,copywriters, content strategies, branders, managers, market researchersand more.To learn more about Aquent, visit aquent.com or call 855.767.6333.
16 Manage Proactively.Your Path to Proactivity Starts WithThese Questions...Anticipate how your annual plan can Continually evaluate your current(and will) change team’s performance and skills1. What new technologies or communications 10. How consistent are your team’s job descriptions vehicles might require you to augment your with the actual day-to-day work? existing team’s skill set? 11. What are their strengths?2. What do you know about your customers and competition that might require you to get a new 12. What are their weaknesses? product to market faster? 13. How much time do they spend working on3. If your industry is highly regulated, are there things that are outside of their skill sets? any new legal mandates forthcoming that might require you to change your product strategy and 14. Are you asking some of your team members messaging? to do production work in addition to the highly strategic and original creation?4. What are your recurring big-ticket projects? Do they overlap? 15. Do you have simpler, tactical work that could be handed off to newer team members or external5. What percentage of your recurring projects do resources to free up your core team? you outsource and why? 16. What’s your gut feeling about how happy your6. What percentage of the work completed last team is? year was unexpected? 17. Has your team taken time to pursue professional7. What percentage of the unexpected work did development opportunities? you outsource? 18. What does your team need to look like in five8. When you did outsource the work, what were years? In two years? In six months? What is the the costs? gap and how can you move your team in that direction?9. Do you have headcount for more permanent employees? If yes, is there any value in keeping 19. Are there specific technical skills that you those roles as contract positions? need your team to develop or that you need to acquire from outside? 20. Designers and writers often need to cross the boundaries into coding... Is your team learning the latest technical skills that they need to develop for emerging platforms?
17 Manage Proactively.Always recruit, even if you don’t have anopen position21. Who was the best source of candidates for your most recent opening?22. How many applicants did you receive?23. Did you feel like you received a significant number of qualified candidates?24. When you consider the skills gap of your team, did you see those skills in the candidates?25. Did you feel your HR department was fully involved in the recruiting process?26. How many resumes did you receive for your most recent opening?27. How many people did you interview for a single opening?28. Did you review their portfolio, their wireframes, or their code?29. Did you assess their skills on specific software applications?30. How long did it take from job posting to actual start date?31. Would you consider your last hire a successful hire? If not, why not?32. Would you consider your hiring and onboarding process efficient?