Talent Management in the Creative Economy

Eightfold
Eightfold

In recent years, companies have begun shifting their emphasis from skills or knowledge to creativity when it comes to hiring. The creative economy broadly includes all workers whose efforts involve original creation, yet the skills these workers bring to the table extend beyond the deliverables they produce. Cultivating creative talent stands to transform companies, industries, and the entire economy.

“Creative industry in mutual synergy with a knowledge-based economy creates conditions for a strong and sustainable creative economy,” write researchers Dagmar Vesela and Katarina Klimova in a 2014 paper published in The Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. Because creativity is inherently a human trait, however, the basis for a strong and sustainable creative economy lies in the talents and abilities of creative workers.

Essential Skills Fostered in Creative Work

In one sense, a creative economy represents a departure from an older skills-based model. Yet workers in creative fields still require a set of core skills in order to refine, edit, and execute creative ideas.

Automation is often skills-focused; machines and algorithms are programmed or trained to execute particular repetitive skills, allowing humans to focus on other tasks. Since machines cannot currently create or innovate as humans do, the shifting of repetitive tasks to automation has placed a premium on creativity.

“While it is difficult to precisely predict the types of new jobs that could emerge in the future, it is possible to predict the skills mix that these jobs could require,” writes Nandita Abraham, president at Pearl Academy. These include the ability to think in innovative ways, to strategize, and to build teams that promote collaborative learning and value a wide range of human perspectives. 

Some of the top skills demanded in creative environments include not only innovation and collaboration, but the ability to meet deadlines, plan projects, and manage time. Taking a proactive approach to problems and adapting to unforeseen circumstances also help creative talent succeed, writes Katie Fiddaman at Pearson College London. 

Hire Creative Talent to Enhance Your Entire Team

The value of skills fostered in creative work, however, is not limited to their application in creative fields. For example, “media and communications is one of the most likely qualifications to be held by those employed in creative occupations,” says Christina Parolin, Ph.D., executive director of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Yet skill in communication and understanding media benefits entire teams, as well as individual professionals across the spectrum of occupations. 

It is perhaps unsurprising that communication ranks highly on the list of skills essential to creative talent. In a November 2019 paper, researchers Ivanna Dronyuk, Iryan Moiseienko, and Jan Gregusml found that mass communication and global approaches to business were driving the emphasis on hiring and retaining top creative talent. 

Hiring a diverse, inclusive team of creative talent may benefit not only the hiring company, but the entire world. Teams that incorporate multiple perspectives in new ways, for example, may contribute to equalizing the current imbalance in the creative economy, in which creative jobs and talent are underrepresented in developing countries, according to Andy Pratt, professor of cultural economy at City University of London. Teams that can take a global approach to creativity, however, increase their ability to think of new ways to reach out to the world.

graphic designer works on laptop and desktop computer in a warmly lit office; creative economy talent management concept

COVID-19 and the Creative Economy

Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, creative industries were growing at a rate that outpaced a number of other sectors and industries. In the U.K., for example, creative fields grew at twice the rate of non-creative fields, write researchers Heather Carey, Rebecca Florisson, and Lesley Giles in a November 2019 report. The creative economy accounted for $650.3 billion in economic activity in Los Angeles alone in 2019, along with 2.7 million jobs, according to a report by Otis College of Art and Design

The pandemic and its disruption to ordinary business slowed the growth of the creative economy and left much creative talent searching for a new job. Hardest hit were the fine and performing arts segment, which currently face losses of up to 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales. 

For many creatives, COVID-19 meant a return to gig work or an attempt to find alternate work, just as freelancers and gig economy workers were taking a blow as well. “American artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed than U.S. workers overall,” notes Andrea Durkin in Global Trade Magazine. As businesses closed due to the pandemic, so did opportunities for creative talent to find gig work. 

Creative industries have not received equitable support from programs designed to help struggling businesses, either. A study published by the University of California Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development found, for example, that while creative enterprises make up 4.5 percent of the nation’s GDP (and 8.2 percent of California’s GDP), creative businesses received just one percent of the approvals granted for loans disbursed by the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program.

“The minimal level of financial support stands in direct contrast to the value-added contributions these businesses and organizations make to the broader national and state economy,” says Adam Fowler, director of research at the UC Riverside Center for Economic Forecasting and a co-author of the study.

hip businessman gives presentation in front of colorful whiteboard; creative economy talent management concept

How Companies Can Step in and Foster Creative Talent

While these numbers represent hardship for creative talent, they also represent opportunities for employers to alleviate that hardship and build stronger teams. “A large number of the most creative, skilled, and savvy people in the country are out of jobs simultaneously,” says Michael Seman, assistant professor of arts management at Colorado State University’s LEAP Institute for the Arts. “How can we harness that resource and develop collaborative projects and programs for them?”

“Creativity will always be, and has always been, the answer. 2020 will be no different,” says Rob Doubal, chief creative officer at McCann UK and co-president of McCann London. Companies that embrace creative talent position themselves to meet the as-yet unknown challenges that await us in the future.

Understanding Creative Talent Skills

Hiring the right creative talent has a profound effect on the new hire’s co-workers and the organization as a whole. 

One way businesses can avail themselves of the current slowdown in the creative economy is to identify which skills and abilities their teams require, then determine which of these capabilities can be met by creative talent. Transferable skills like communication, strategizing, collaboration, and creative thinking are essential to creative work, which means that creative talent can bring them to the table. 

“The creative individual is the new mainstream, the great emerging class of our time,” writes venture capitalist Marte Martin. While creativity is an extraordinary asset, it cannot be treated as a commodity because creativity rests within individual people. Instead, companies seeking to harness creative efforts must build teams that foster creativity and equip them with the tools and values required for creativity to thrive. 

By understanding what skills creative talent brings to the table, companies can position themselves within the larger creative economy, building stronger teams, and pursuing their business goals in more effective ways.

Images by: Tatiana Badaeva/©123RF.com, Roman Samborskyi/©123RF.com, dolgachov/©123RF.com

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