We are in an age of breakneck progress in artificial intelligence the chatbots have given way to AI tools that can create impressive, highly detailed images. Is it time to worry or rejoice?  

Say hello to an emerging and fast-evolving genre of AI known as text-to-image generation.

It’s a fascinating new front in artificial intelligence, where anyone can generate hyper-realistic images from a written text description.

While most users have generated work that leans toward the weird and absurd, like the Mona Lisa painting a portrait of Da Vinci, many are also experimenting with possible commercial applications. As you might imagine, this tech has stirred up deep existential and ethical questions about art, creating, and more. Who is the artist behind the creations — AI or its human user? Can machines be creative? And perhaps most germane for creatives — Will this new technology make certain creative industry jobs go *poof*?

Just this past midsummer 2022, a select few people in and adjacent to the tech industry were granted access to these text-to-image AI tools during initial beta testing. The two most prominent are Dall-E —derived from the name of the surrealist artist Salvador Dali and Pixar’s lovable animated robot Wall-E —and Midjourney. Dall-E was launched last year by OpenAI, a nonprofit research lab founded by Sam Altman, Peter Thiel, and Elon Musk, among others. Midjourney entered open beta in mid-July 2022 and comes from a self-funded AI research lab founded by David Holz.

These AI text-to-image tools are simple to use — but rife with controversy.

You can open the doors to a dazzling cornucopia of visual creation in seconds with just a few words or simple phrases. Here’s how these AI tools work: Users type in a text prompt like “a frog on a united states quarter” or “chickens gathered to watch human wrestling,” for example, and the results are wild. These programs can translate text into award-winning art that has roiled the art and design community.

The New York Times recently published an article, An A.I.-Generated Picture Won an Art Prize. Artists Aren’t Happy,” chronicling the brouhaha around the Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition awarding Jason M. Allen, of Pueblo West, CO, with the blue-ribbon prize in Digital Art for a piece he had created with Midjourney (he won $300).

via Jason Allen

Allen’s work, “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” won the fair’s contest for emerging digital artists, making it one of the first AI-generated pieces to win such a prize, provoking fierce criticism from artists who accused him of “cheating.” Allen defended his work, which in submission he had explicitly labeled “Jason M. Allen via Midjourney.” After winning, Allen posted a photo of his prize piece to the Midjourney Discord chat, which made its way to Twitter, where it ignited heated debate and backlash. Here are some excerpts from the online mêlée.

  • This is so gross. I can see how AI art can be beneficial, but claiming you’re an artist by generating one? Absolutely not,” shared one Twitter user.
  • “We’re watching the death of artistry unfold right before our eyes,” another Twitter user wrote, who was quoted in the New York Times piece.
  • “No effort? Please,” another wrote. “If Jackson Pollock can splatter paint onto a canvas or Maurizio Cattelan can tape a banana to a wall, and both are called “art” (both which take hardly “any effort at all”), then this counts too.”
  • “Fine tuning and curating is the art here. If they just presented generic Midjourney art, then… It wouldn’t have won. Figuring out what looks like good digital art is the art itself.”

Some tweets excoriated Allen, while others defended him. Many argued that using AI is no different from using other digital image manipulation tools like Photoshop, and that human creativity was necessary to craft the right prompts and curate the final award-winning piece.

Controversy over new art-making technologies is nothing new.

The New York Times article shared that “controversy over new art-making technologies is nothing new. Many painters recoiled at the invention of the camera, which they saw as a debasement of human artistry. (Charles Baudelaire, the 19th-century French poet and art critic, called photography “art’s most mortal enemy.”).”

Is text-to-image AI different? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, human artists are, however, understandably anxious about their futures. Will anyone pay for art or design if they can just generate it themselves? Or are these just new tools that will augment concepting and prototyping, freeing artists, designers, marketers, and more to focus on the more directional components of creation?

Just this past June, Cosmopolitan commissioned art director and digital artist Karen X Cheng to produce the magazine’s first-ever AI-generated cover art — a strong woman shown as an astronaut, based on creative direction from Cheng and the Cosmo design team. The headline and lede on the cover read, “Meet the world’s first artificially intelligent magazine cover. And it only took 20 seconds to make.”  While it took Dall-E twenty seconds to render the image, that bombastic but attention-grabbing claim does not take into account the time it took to refine the art direction or compose the right prompt to achieve the final image.

Cheng documented the process and posted the video on Instagram, which showed the hundreds of iterations of text prompts she typed before coming up with: “wide-angle shot from below of a female astronaut with an athletic feminine body walking with swagger toward camera on Mars in an infinite universe, synthwave digital art.

Via Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan wasn’t the only magazine with an AI-produced cover this past June. The normally buttoned-up Economist deployed a Midjourney-created piece emblazoned with the headline: “AI’s New Frontier.” These examples are significant because they show how quickly digital technologies can go from bleeding edge to market, giving rise to a panoply of complex emotions.

What is the future of text-to-image AI, and what does it mean for artists and designers?

Advances in AI have often sparked concern about the displacement of human workers. While those concerns are legitimate, IBM CEO Ginny Rometty recently said, “If I considered the initials AI, I would have preferred augmented intelligence.”

One way to look at this new technology is that it can help push creative visions forward. Someone putting together a presentation might find they can communicate ideas visually that surpass their artistic abilities. The production team for a video shoot can quickly test out backdrops and props ahead of time. An advertising agency can tweak drafts of a new campaign before having artists work on the final concept.

The reality is that AI design tools are already a part of the creative industry. The Adobe Creative Suite is full of AI-enhanced features. Premiere Pro has proprietary Adobe Sensei AI embedded, allowing automated captions to be created. In Illustrator, the ability to trace and vectorize sketches is powered by AI, as well as the skin-smoothing and other retouching tools in Photoshop’s neural filters.

This compendium of AI use cases from the last several years shows how ubiquitous automated design has become, but it also demonstrates that without creative intervention from human artists and designers, the results of AI-generated design can feel derivative, regimented, and homogenized — making the case that without a human to steer the way, this technology has no intrinsic soul. Perhaps the future is for humans to be captains of creation, with a growing array of digital tools at their disposal.

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.

Welcome to the land of economic “hurry up and wait.” 

The labor market is robust, yet gross domestic product growth appears to have slowed substantially and has perhaps nudged backward since last year’s boom. Things are up and down simultaneously, making forecasting what’s coming our way hard for experts and soothsayers alike.  

At the very end of July, the Federal Reserve announced (again) that it is raising interest rates to combat inflation, which stood at 9.1% from last June — the fastest rate of price increases in more than 40 years. The government also reported last month that GDP fell for the second straight quarter, a possible sign that the economy may be in a recession. 

Lloyd Blankfein, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and now its senior chairman, summed things up nicely: “Everybody is saying, ‘Where is the economy going?'” he said. “And I think a good point to make is it’s hard to predict the future, but right now it’s hard to predict the present.” 

“There’s a not insubstantial chance that we have a recession,” shared Blankfein. “I don’t think it’s baked in the cake. Some people say we’re already in a recession. A lot of people say a soft landing is very, very unlikely.”

And a soft landing is precisely what the Federal Reserve is trying to mastermind. They want raise interest rates enough to cool the economy without creating a job-killing recession. In other words, walking a tightrope at night while gargling with salt — considerably hard to do. 

Recession and the labor market

Most recessions do not have a pillowy landing. The Fed raises rates, and jobs are lost. Companies don’t just reduce their hiring plans; they contract. But here, we are starting from a different place — our financial system is actually in good shape. In the United States, there are more jobs than there are people to fill them. We are living in the era of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the glowing.  

The June jobs report was positive, and that was, to many, a surprise — 372,000 jobs were added, much better than expected. How was it possible to generate 372,000 jobs while we are potentially on the cliff of a recession?  

The first six months of 2022 were an extraordinary period for the United States labor market, as unemployment hovered at 50-year lows and job creation boomed. But what will the next six months bring? Will the job market remain robust? Will wages surge higher as demand tightens or will they be beaten back by inflation? When we posted a LinkedIn poll asking jobseekers about their job market sentiments, it was a nearly even divide between optimism and pessimism, with 21% unsure if things were up or down.   

Interest rates and inflation 

One thing is for sure — the headwinds have become more intense. The Fed is poised to keep raising interest rates, which makes businesses’ debt more expensive and may well prompt companies to slow their hiring plans. If inflation continues to rise, it will overtake whatever wage surge workers have gained. The good news? Inflation seems to be slowing down, and worker demand remains high — still far higher than before the pandemic. 

 While Covid created a big economic downturn, demand for goods like housing, cars, TVs, and more actually went up, which is unusual. One of the challenges facing the Fed is that their decades of data do not allow straightforward extrapolation for this pandemic outlier time. And the Fed has only one tool — interest rates — that can slow or speed the demand of interest-rate-sensitive parts of the economy.  

One of the big lessons from past inflation episodes is that raising the interest rate to reduce demand will not make inflation go away if your inflation comes from supply-side shocks. If wages go up more slowly than prices increase, people’s effective income decreases. If the Fed creates a recession to conquer inflation, in the short run, things are going to get worse because income will stagnate, people will lose their jobs, and unemployment will rise. The strongest part of today’s economy? A massively robust job market. A wrong move by the Fed may very well kill the part of the economy that is working well. 

The big picture

So, how did we land here? The pandemic played a role. We shut down the economy as if we shut off a valve. It was not the natural order of things, and now we are feeling some of the repercussions of that most unusual time. The unemployment rate currently stands at 3.6%, about what it was before the pandemic — almost a 50-year low. And yet, 58% of Americans are thought to be living paycheck to paycheck. In economics, there’s the BIG picture but also the smaller one for each household.   

In our age of 24-hour news cycles, fear may be the very thing we need to fear most. Our glut of nonstop punditry is built to send jolts of jitter into people; there is deep concern that the public might slip into a ‘doom loop’ that could scare the country into a downward economic spiral. The irony is, if we collectively pull back and stop going out to restaurants, for example, the very thing we are hoping to avoid — a deep recession — will likely happen.  

Job openings are still almost double the number of unemployed job seekers, though that could change as companies grow more wary of a possible recession. While companies may rein in their hiring plans as interest rates cool capital financing, things are likely to ebb and flow a bit as the markets strive for equilibrium.

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.

It’s no surprise that “freedom” means different things to different people — but what does it mean to creative professionals as it relates to work? 

We are experiencing an ongoing revolution in the workplace. Traditional ideas about knowledge work are dissolving, and as a society, we are undergoing a radical change in how we think of work — especially for those who work in creative industries.

For decades, scientists have known that creativity often grows in a non-linear fashion and that creatives tend to be more neurotic and antisocial than others — aka, they live more in the world of daydreams and require some solitude to produce quality work.

Neuroscientists who study creativity find that it does not involve a single brain region or side of the brain as the “right brain” myth of creativity suggests; rather, it draws on the brain as a whole. The complex process of “creativity” comprises many interconnected unconscious and conscious cognitive systems and emotions, with discrete areas of the brain recruited to handle each task and work in concert to get the job done.

Creatives don’t always follow the classic 9-to-5 workweek flow, finding that doing work at night or early in the morning is often more beneficial. In other words, thinking out of the box is hard when you’ve been put into one. It’s fair to say that social environments can adversely impact creativity.

So, when are people most creative? A large study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley sought to better understand what drives creativity. They collected daily electronic logs from nearly 240 professionals working on 26 distinct creative projects, who reported on their emotions and perceptions of their work environment, along with their motivation and one notable event from each day.

They found that of all the positive events reported in the nearly 12,000 diaries collected, the most significant factors for generating positive emotions and perceptions of their work environment was making progress in meaningful work — moving forward on something that matters. They were not only more productive on those days, but more creative, too. Simply put, creativity has a lot to do with setting up the right work environment to allow motivation and imagination to thrive.

But the right environment isn’t the same for everyone.

For some, working from home stifles creativity because collaboration via Zoom doesn’t get their creative juices going vroom. In contrast, others find open office setups and their attendant distractions a major creativity killer. Recent research published in the journal Nature, based on fieldwork in five countries, found that video conferencing inhibits the production of creative ideas. But they also found that video conferencing was as effective as in-person meetings for choosing which innovative ideas to pursue, essentially proving that some folks prefer vanilla ice cream while others prefer strawberry (just kidding, sort of).

We set out to see what were the most essential creative workplace freedoms for Creative Circlers. While everyone wants control over their general process — including where, when, for whom, and on what they work — we learned that some aspects are definitely more important than others. To uncover which work freedoms matter most, we crafted a LinkedIn poll to which over 6,000 people responded.

We broke things down by looking at the overarching question: Which freedom is your #1 priority?

And these were the options:

  • Working with whom I want
  • Working where I want
  • Working when I want
  • Doing the work I want to do

Can you guess which option creatives valued most?

In this new age of widespread digital nomadism, we guessed that “working where I want” would take the cake. While this ranked high, there was something that mattered even more…

Here’s how our results broke out:

  • Doing the work I want to do: 41%
  • Working where I want: 34%
  • Working when I want: 21%
  • Working with whom I want: 4%

The number one thing for Creative Circlers? “Doing the work I want to do” — echoing the results of the Berkeley study.

Creativity is crucial for companies. It’s one of the elusive characteristics that managers seek in their employees so that their organizations can stay ahead in today’s cutthroat new-new-new marketplace. Research suggests that businesses would do well to remember that creativity is as much about communicating with creatives to set up the right work environment that lets motivation and imagination juices flow as it is about finding the right candidates.

People are most creative when motivated by interest, sincere enjoyment, and satisfaction with the work itself. That’s important for both creatives and those that employ them to remember.

About the author. 

An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.

During Mental Health Month, my feed was oversaturated with the same quick tips and urges for mindfulness, positivity, and gratitude. While these can be useful tools, they tell a very incomplete story and can be basically useless for anyone in any sort of real distress.  

Mental health is a multifaceted, complex concept that we have turned into a simplistic buzzword because that’s how the internet rolls. Here’s what I’ve learned: 

Find What Works for You 

There are no cure-alls in this life. What works for some people won’t necessarily work for others. What works for you now might not work in the future. 

I learned this as I healed from a concussion. I was used to relying on meditation and yoga practices as tools to manage generalized anxiety, but post- concussion, they just didn’t work for me anymore. My brain and body hurt in a way that made meditation even more stressful, and the body awareness of my yoga practice just made me feel worse. I had to find new tools. Sometimes that meant doing anything to distract myself from what I was feeling. Sometimes it meant isolating myself from my triggers (light and sound). The process labored and lingered for longer than I could have imagined, but now I’m mostly better. Not perfect, but better. It feels good enough for now. 

Of course, a concussion is a physical injury that requires professional medical attention (although if you have no structural damage and ongoing symptoms, that help is extremely hard to come by and rarely covered by insurance). But the point is that when you are struggling with something, you might have to try a bunch of things before you find what helps you find peace, calm, or a reset. They might be practices, supplements (please vet these carefully as they tend to be unregulated), or medications (only seek these out under the supervision of a medical professional). There is no inherently wrong way to help yourself feel better, as long as you’re not simultaneously causing harm. 

Sometimes It’s Physical: Calming the Nervous System 

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) encompasses the sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric nervous systems. These are systems that function without our being conscious of them. To super simplify things, the sympathetic nervous system rules “fight or flight,” while the parasympathetic rules “rest and digest.” To calm our nervous system, we’ll want to activate that parasympathetic nervous system. 

A lot of these practices are hyped up with the term biohacking. I’m not a huge fan of this term because it implies “quick and easy,” which, depending on where we’re at physically, mentally, and emotionally, these practices might not be. There are also all sorts of gadgets designed to help with the “hacking” part, but are definitely not necessary. (I did use some to help heal from post-concussion syndrome, but don’t know if it was time, the devices, or other therapies that did the trick. Probably a combo.) While these practices can be super helpful at regulating the nervous system and stimulating the vagus nerve which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, it’s not some sort of magic bullet cure-all for all your stress and anxiety. It can take time to use these tools well. Still, they may work quickly for some people. Here are some ways to stimulate the vagus nerve: 

Wading Through the Mire of Grief and Loss 

While the above exercises might help you out when wading through tough times, there is no substitute for wading through the mire of grief and loss. And it can truly be a mire, a bog, an endless labyrinth with no means of escape. But for most of us, at least 90%, there is an end to the hardest part and a way to move forward.  

Here are some ideas on ways to carry yourself through a loss. These may work for you at different points in your process. And remember, we experience grief in a spiral. Feeling a wave of it over something you thought you were “over” isn’t a “relapse,” it’s just your body and mind expressing the process of your own humanity. You could: 

  • Talk to someone. A therapist, a partner, a friend, a support group, or anyone you feel safe enough opening up to. There are hotlines if you don’t want to talk to someone you know personally. 
  • Collapse on the floor and cry. 
  • Write or draw it out. Creative expression is a beautiful way to process grief. Don’t be afraid of letting it get dark. There is magic there. 
  • Create meaning. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe we can create meaning out of tragic circumstances. (I discuss this and other spiritual jargon in-depth here). 
  • Remember to eat, sleep, and move your body. It may not make you feel better, but it could prevent you from feeling even worse. Similarly, don’t beat yourself up if that is not something you’re capable of at the moment.  

What if you’re trying to help someone who is moving through grief and loss? 

  • Validate their feelings and listen. 
  • Do not try to minimize or compare their loss.  
  • Offer tangible help like household chores, getting food, or helping with errands. 
  • Check in and keep them included.

Where Is It Coming From? Exploring Locus Of Control 

When someone comes to me because they’re struggling with their feelings and wondering what is wrong with them, I ask one very important question:  

Are you having a mental health issue, or are you having a normal response to your circumstances?  

While studies show having an internal locus of control or seeing yourself as the master of your fate is associated with higher resilience, recognizing when your feelings are a product of your circumstances can help you sort them out and make changes where possible. Your anger and frustration and sadness is not a problem; it’s an indicator. That’s a big part of therapy — figuring out where those threads come from. Is it about what’s happening right now, or is something from your past making you react more intensely to this circumstance?  

I want to acknowledge that while therapy is becoming more accessible for some, it still isn’t for many.    

The Community Solution  

The one great balm we can all rely on, however, seems to be community, and maybe that’s another reason we’re living in an increasingly stressed, anxious, and depressed world. Our communities are fractured as a result of work schedules, ways of life, and geography. But building upon any foundation we might have can be a huge help.  

According to group psychotherapists Irving Yalom and Malov Leszcz in The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, ”we are built for connection, and nothing is more important to our well-being and health than deep and meaningful relatedness.” In fact, it’s more than our mental health at stake here. Physical health is deeply connected to social connection. Yalom and Leszcz cite: “Social isolation is as much a risk factor for early mortality as such obvious factors as smoking and obesity.”  

Developing community takes time. If you’re feeling isolated, here are some places you can start: 

  • Check in on your local friends 
  • Try a Meet Up group 
  • Join a local running or book club 
  • Volunteer with a community center or clean up initiatives 
  • If your friends and family are far, set up a recurring phone call to catch up 
  • Find a creative outlet class like drawing, dancing, or improv

Remember, There Are No True Quick Fixes 

None of these are tips or tricks. They are tools that may or may not work for you. Some may help a lot at first and then plateau. Some may take a while to have any effect at all and then pay dividends. Some may have worked in the past but don’t anymore.  

There are people out there who can help, from friends to professionals if you need them. You are not alone in this uncertain place.  

If you need immediate assistance, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. 

About the author.

Alessandra is your friendly neighborhood writer, coach, and facilitator with a varied history of experience from digital agencies and corporations to yoga studios and gyms. Her expertise and interests range from fitness and wellness to self-care and personal development to intersectionality and justice to science and creative cultivation. She has worked on and off with Creative Circle since 2014, originally as an NYC recruiter, later as an internal sourcer, and currently as a community wellness and culture specialist as well as a contributing writer for this here blog. You can find up-to-date offerings or sign up for her newsletter at alessandracalderin.com.

COVID-19 kickstarted The Great Resignation — according to the U.S. Department of Labor, a record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in March 2022, edging just above the previous high-water mark set in November 2021. Why are so many people leaving their jobs, and what can companies do to retain talent?

The Current State of Employee Retention

Prior to COVID, the median worker had been with their current employer for a little over four years, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Since COVID? Millennials (those born between ’77 and ’95) make up 66 percent of the U.S. workforce, and 91% of them say they expect to change jobs every three years. The average tenure for workers between the ages of 25 and 34 is 2.8 years.

The current overall turnover rate is 57.3 percent — 25 percent voluntary, 29 percent involuntary, 3 percent high performers. This means one in four employees left their jobs voluntarily during the second year of the pandemic.

The Cost of Training and the Impact of Employee Turnover

According to Training Magazine’s 2021 Training Industry Report, the average U.S. company spent $1,071 per employee on training costs in 2021, with varying amounts of time required to learn new software, protocols, and timekeeping procedures. Companies are now spending more and more on employee training, on subjects including consulting, off-the-shelf and custom content, products, services, technologies facilities, travel, and equipment.

Turnover is generally detrimental to a company. Knowledge, training and development all leave when employees leave. Projects may have to remain unfinished on hold until a new employee is hired and trained. Too much turnover is also terrible for morale — when more than a few employees leave a company in the same span of time, it can diminish the enthusiasm of coworkers, who may in turn be inspired to undertake their own job searches.

Why Employees Depart

Creative Circle recently put the question to our 486,000 LinkedIn followers, and here’s what they told us:

  • 48 percent left a job for better pay.
  • 24 percent said they were looking for more fulfilling work.
  • 20 percent wanted more flexibility.

One respondent put it quite succinctly: “Money and flexibility.” “I think most people decided that life is for the living and want to make the most of it,” another respondent said, a sentiment many have come to share since the pandemic began. Another of our followers simply told us, “Money isn’t everything.” Another respondent remarked, “…plan is to be able to ‘retire’ from the corporate world and run my own business in the next 10 years,” and she’s not alone – the number of new business applications increased by almost a million in 2021 from 2020. Finally, many of the people who responded to our survey feel undervalued at their jobs, which often spurred them, or is spurring them, to seek new opportunities.

See a full recap of why Creative Circle candidates are considering switching jobs here.

According to a Gartner HR report from October 2021, attrition is driven by a number of factors, including:

  • Lack of employee recognition
  • Poor management
  • Absence of opportunities for professional growth/development of new skills
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Non-competitive pay
  • Burnout.

The unemployment rate is down 3.6 percent, housing prices are up 19.8 percent between February 2021 and 2022, and inflation closed March 2022 at 8.5 percent. Compare these percentages to the average raise in the USA, which is around 3 percent — chances are if employees leave one company for another, it’s because their new employer will pay them more than what they’re making.

As for burnout, for a lot of people “work from anywhere” has become “work from everywhere all the time.” Workplace stress and burnout go hand in hand. In a 2022 report, the American Psychological Association found that both issues were at an all-time high across all professions: 79 percent of the 1,501 U.S. workers surveyed in late 2021 reported experiencing work-related stress in the month they were surveyed, with three out of five confessing the stress was bringing anxiety and stress into their personal lives.

How to Improve Retention

How are companies attempting to staunch the bleeding? In February 2022, Gartner advised companies to revise their employee retention strategy as follows:

  • Offer flexible work arrangements.
  • Identify select roles with critical skills for compensation increases.
  • Work to retain employees from underrepresented groups by setting retention goals and doubling down on DEI initiatives.

What’s our advice to keep your employees — and to keep them happy? It’s a combination of a number of ingredients. Let’s say you create a pie chart of reasons your employees will want to remain with your company: each employee will weight the reasons differently, but the list of reasons will be pretty much the same. The pie is the same, but the slices are all different sizes.

So how can companies bake their employees the perfect pie? Here are some general guidelines:

  • Pay your people salaries and bonuses in line with other employers in your industry.
  • Don’t make team members who deserve raises wait or ask for them, especially when other companies might hire them at higher salaries.
  • Adopt a remote/hybrid model to give your people the opportunity to create a work-life balance that actually works for them.
  • Be responsive to ongoing economic conditions such as higher gas prices, overall inflation, etc. Now’s the time to subsidize employee commutes, provide in-office meals, and more. However you can help your people reduce their everyday expenses, do it.
  • Shift your focus from hours to projects. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the days of punching a clock are over. As long as your team members get their work done, and do it well, does it matter how many hours they work?
  • Tailor your management style. Some of your employees want more recognition for what they achieve, while some want more autonomy…whatever it is, let them have it.
  • Incentivize your staff with more paid time off. It’s an inexpensive way to stave off burnout. Even just one extra week each year of PTO is akin to a slight raise or small bonus, to say nothing of its mental health benefits.

 

What do you call that period between jobs, especially one that spans a lengthy amount of time? It’s an employment gap. And it happens, both by choice and not.  

It’s so prevalent that it comes up in the lyrics of a song. Alternative/Indie musician Pinhead Gunpowder in “Freedom Is” muses: “They say if you’re not working, you’re just wasting away, ‘Employment gaps look bad on your resume,’.” Warning: If you decide to listen to this, turn the volume down. The singer is angry. 

If there’s an employment gap in your work history, should you too be angry, defensive, elusive, and aloof? If there are several of these potholes along your career path, are you doomed? In other words: how should you address this issue in a job search?  

As They Say in the NYC Subway System: “Watch the Gap”  

What are potential employers thinking when they see a gap or gaps? The answer is simple: “Why?”  

“There are a variety of reasons, both voluntary and involuntary, why someone might have a gap in employment,” explains a post from Study.com. Examples are plentiful. Some workforce participants may break the continuous employment cycle to raise a family, care for a sick or elderly loved one, or for their own medical problems. They may leave to advance their education, pursue a project, for a special interest, or to travel. 

When it’s time to plunge back in, potential employers will typically ask for an explanation. So what should you say?  

Tip #1: Be upfront and tell it like it is.   

“Be honest,” according to “How to Explain the Gap in Your Resume with Ease.” This piece references The Essential HR Handbook, which advocates the adage “honesty is the best policy” for this hiatus, no matter what the reason. “Don’t hide it; explain it… During the entire process of conducting a job search, maintain your integrity and demonstrate it. Jobs come and go, but being known for being truthful — and conversely, deceitful — can last a lifetime.”   

The author of the book cited is not alone in this thinking. The first post above from Study.com concurs. “Be honest. Whatever you do, don’t lie on your resume. Recruiters will check your work history. So tell the truth, explain what you were up to when you were unemployed.”  

Here’s an idea from The Guardian. “If it’s a short gap sandwiched between longer periods of employment, you can deflect attention by giving the date of employment in years, rather than in months. For example, ‘2002 – 2006’ rather than ‘January 2002 – October 2006.’ But if you were out of work for more than a few months, or your dates of employment are short, don’t try to conceal a gap.”    

Now for the scary one. What if you were let go from a job? The same principle applies — be aboveboard. Show your hand. Don’t misrepresent the facts. “You don’t need to lie about why you left. Frame it as a learning experience.” Be frank but with an upside spin. For instance, “You didn’t do as well as you’d hoped because you needed more training and mentoring. It taught you to ask for regular feedback from your manager.”   

Tip #2: Stay upbeat and project that spirit.  

Following up on the last point, address any break in employment positively and constructively. Put forth good energy. Don’t apologize for the decision(s) you made or made for you. Consider this: “It is important to realize that depending on the length of your time off, the recruiter may not even notice. If they do notice, chances are it is not very important to them. A good recruiter or hiring manager wants to talk to you about your prior experience, your skills, and what you can offer the company.”

Be confident — it’s infectious. How you deliver information can influence how it’s received and the ultimate outcome. A wise supervisor once shared this point of view with me. Although I had not considered this strategy, I used it. When I approached upper management with my need to take a leave of absence at a busy time at the firm, I did so with excitement about my situation. It worked.   

TopResume.com confirms this notion. “If you are enthusiastic about the time you took, share that enthusiasm with the recruiter.” But keep in mind: “you don’t need to overshare.” 

Tip #3: Add value to the gap — fill it!  

Remember in school when you had to write about what you did on your summer vacation? Construct a version of this assignment for your vacation from work, only do it as a civil engineer focused on building a bridge. What did you learn? What did you do that enhances your desirability as a worker? Take inventory. Be creative, if need be.  

How can you get started on plugging your career cavity? The Harvard Business Review is at your service here. “Write down every project you’ve spent time on in between the roles currently listed on your resume, or since you’ve been unemployed. Now, look at the descriptions of the jobs you’re interested in applying to and see if you can make any connections between your list and what the hiring managers are looking for. Ask yourself: ‘Have I gained any skills that align with the job requirements?’ Your goal is to reframe your experiences in a way that will help employers draw a connection between the role they are trying to fill and the skills you can offer.” 

There’s Nothing Wrong With Having a Gap Between Jobs” echoes this theme. “Reiterating skills and experiences from your employment gap to communicate with recruiters can set you apart from other candidates. Whatever your reason for a gap between jobs, it is perfectly fine — use it to your advantage!” 

Tip #4: Flaunt the cutting edge.  

Show that time and trends did not pass you by when you were out of the workforce. Prove you remained current in your field and the world of work and perhaps even went above and beyond. “Mind the gap: don’t let missing work history damage your CV and interview” from The Guardian offers suggestions. “Make it clear at the interview that you’re up-do-date with events in your industry, so make sure you stay in touch with contacts, keep up membership of professional organizations and attend industry events.” 

It also discusses the value of networking. Extending your contacts provides a pipeline to discover and learn about opportunities and, above all, “which organizations and jobs are best suited for your personality, working style and career needs.” Then take that information, embed it in your resume, and use it in your interviews. 

Staying on track is also critical to the technical and process parts of occupations. Can you, when offered a job, start being productive immediately? Provide solid examples that pertain exactly to the position/company/industry under discussion.  

Tip #5: Do the hard work to return to work. 

All of these tips have one thing in common. They require reflection and effort. 

Prepare!

Don’t assume that re-entering the employment sector is a simple matter of thinking on your feet. True, some on-the-spot responses will take place at interviews. But have your ammunition at the ready and fine-tuned. 

Practice, Practice, Practice!  

Get your narrative down pat. Don’t meander. Knead your material — take out the lumps so that it’s smooth and clear-cut. Be succinct. Short and simple, yet cohesive, may seal the deal. 

Good News: The Times They Are A-Changin’ (thanks, Bob Dylan) 

Change is constant. That’s life. The changes brought about by COVID-19 have hit us especially hard through lost health, lost lives, and lost jobs. However, is there is a glimmer of hope for those who have been cast off the payroll and seek to rejoin the workforce? The silver lining is that the pandemic has altered the concept of the employment gap. 

Fret not, the stigma of being laid off and dislocated is beginning to fade. That’s the thrust of “Jobless for a Year? That Might be Less of a Problem Now.” It explains: “People who were out of work for a while have typically found it much harder to get a job. The pandemic may have changed how employers view people who have been unemployed for months or years.”  There’s more. “The importance of what are often referred to as ‘resume gaps’ is fading, experts say, because of labor shortages and more bosses seeming to realize that long absences from the job market shouldn’t taint candidates.” 

This line of thinking goes beyond this citation. Another post reinforces this point in its headline: ”Covid Lesson – Stop Rejecting Job Jumpers And Those With Employment Gaps.” Welcome to the new world, where the path forward is to “sidestep this ‘work history flaw.’” The content groups gaps and frequent “job jumpers” in the same category of what traditionally was regarded as employment risks. “However, today’s smart hiring managers realize that both of these possible problem areas should not be automatically counted against a candidate in the current work environment.” But this shift is not limited to the present. That’s because “high resignation rates and employment gaps may be a permanent factor.” 

Regardless of Covid, it’s of value for recruiters to “ditch the dated outlook.” Why? “Candidates having an employment gap should no longer come as a surprise.” Recruiters should understand: “For many people, this gap is a wonderful and exciting time to grow, slow down, reposition, follow passions, and shirk routine.” This applies to those who deliberately departed and those for whom a gap was outside their control. The upshot: “Times have changed, and an employee can still be loyal and committed even if they do not work every day of their adult life.” 

What’s the Meaning of All of This? 

Prospective employers have the right to pose relevant questions about an applicant’s work history. But this shouldn’t be akin to an interrogation in a sealed room with a bare lightbulb hanging down. 

Candidates and companies, heed this informed point of view: “A good hiring manager will ask you about your employment gap because they want to understand the way you think and how you deal with different types of situations. If the interviewer grills you about your employment gap or seems to be trying to pry additional information from you, that’s a red flag. Reconsider if this is the type of work culture and individual you want to work with.” 

Both employers and candidates have a say in employment decisions. Hiring managers would be wise to veer from being invasive as well as adapt to new realities. And job-seekers should do their homework and, in the end, conclude if an offer aligns with their needs and sensitivities.

About the author. 
You name it, she covers it. That’s the can-do attitude Sherry M. Adler brings to the craft of writing. A polished marketing and communications professional, she has a passion for learning and the world at large. She uses it plus the power of words to inform and energize stakeholders of all kinds. And to show how all of this can make a difference, she calls her business WriteResults NY, LLC.

Are you lucky enough to have one, perhaps several people you can turn to when you want to hash out a concern? Chances are these companions engage with you easily and completely. They listen intently, care about what you’re saying, and respond objectively, yet keyed to who you are and your needs. What a blessing. They have a certain knack, a gift to be treasured. It’s called “empathy.”    

Empathy is “both a trait and a skill.” An all-encompassing way of being, of interacting with the world, it’s an always-on mindset that functions across all facets of our lives. 

There are many dimensions of empathy. And there are just as many, if not more, benefits to individuals and companies alike in embracing and strengthening this capability, especially now. This post sets it all out. 

What’s in this Word — Empathy?  
Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the action of [or capacity for] understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”  

Don’t confuse empathy with sympathy, advises this same source. They’re not the same. Sympathy “implies sharing (or having the capacity to share) the feelings of another.” Empathy is different. It is “imagining, or having the capacity to imagine, feelings that one does not actually have.” The distinction: Empathy “is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place. Essentially it is putting yourself in someone else’s position and feeling what they must be feeling.” Empathy gives you the capability “to walk a mile in another’s shoes.”  

Empathy is broad and complex. To depict this concept, two psychologists deconstructed it into three main stages. Think of this roadmap as a hierarchical set of blocks that builds on one another to illustrate how empathy works: 

  • Cognitive empathy: This first step relates to awareness and power to get into another person’s head, discern their state-of-mind, and sense what they’re experiencing.    
  • Emotional empathy: From the initial base, this phase goes deeper to engage with a person, establish rapport, and emotionally connect. 
  • Compassionate empathy: This next level pertains to taking action, responding, comforting, and otherwise helping to address a person’s situation.

Putting This All to Use 
There’s no disputing it. Empathy offers practical and prized advantages. And they pertain to our lives on and off the job. Let us count the ways.  

Empathy offers a host of pluses, says a post on Verywellimind.com.  It acts as the glue to make social relationships. It provides not only the insight into emotions but also the ability to keep them in check. And as noted, it fosters “helping behaviors” in social interactions, both when giving and receiving it. 

Mindtools.com captures the significance of empathy in a single sentence. “It’s one of the five key components of emotional intelligence, and it helps to build trust and strengthen relationships.” There’s more according to “Five Ways Empathy Is Good for Your Health.”  

This Psychology Today piece explains that empathy reduces stress. How? It aids us in managing difficult situations. It provides the wherewithal to communicate effectively and collaborate. What’s more, empathy “guides our moral compass” along the lines of the Golden Rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” CNN adds: “Empathy is a fundamental building block for conflict resolution and understanding and bonding with others.”  

In all, empathy “enables people to get on with others, whether it be a loved one, colleague, friend or complete stranger.” And here’s a pivotal point for this discussion. “Ultimately, it is essential for developing good relationships, both in your personal life and at work.” 

The Merit of Empathy in Business 
Why is empathy desirable in a business setting? Enterpreneur.com reports that “this traditionally soft skill yields hard, bottom-line results for organizations big and small” by: 

  • Boosting brand purchases, loyalty, and recommendations. Empathy enables sales/marketing teams to home in on what customers need and want, pitch products/services, drive repeat business, and generate recommendations.      
  • Enhancing “productivity and innovation.” Employees who possess and wield strong empathy tend to be high performers and thinkers. They excel at working well with others and solving problems. 
  • Outpacing the competition. Who knew sensing and feeling could have such a favorable effect in the dog-eat-dog commercial arena? The 2016 Empathy Index identified the “Most Empathetic Companies” and crunched the numbers to show that they generated superior market share and industry ranking.   
  • Creating a collaborative culture. Organizations high on the empathy spectrum “attract highly engaged individuals,” who typically choose to remain with the company and have high levels of job satisfaction. 

No wonder a post touts empathy as “the most important business skill.” This point of view comes from the power it exerts to enhance product development, customer service and team dynamics. For the many reasons cited, it suggests that “empathy should be embedded into the entire organization…. There is nothing soft about it. It is a hard skill that should be required from the board-room to the shop floor.” “The Importance of Empathy in the Workplace” adds to this list. It says that empathy engenders an atmosphere where employees can take risks, enables managers to identify performance issues, and encourages them to help employees “improve and excel.”  

Now More than Ever 
Empathy in the business space is of genuine worth at any time. But in today’s Covid-infused world, it is a vital lever for success. That’s why a World Economic Forum post frames it as “a must-have business strategy” at this juncture. Burned out from the pandemic, overstressed and overburdened, both employees and companies would benefit from a strong shot of empathy. It acts as a force to buttress work-life balance and other issues that result from ongoing pressures.   

This notion flows from new research by Catalyst. Findings show “not only is empathy an effective business strategy, it is a strategic imperative to respond to crisis, transformation, and a critical ingredient for building inclusive workplaces where everyone can belong, contribute and thrive.”  

Others agree. Forbes frames empathy as “The Next Business Disruptor.” Why?  Covid produced undue demands and anxieties on people and organizations. As such, brands need to generate superior human-centric experiences for their stakeholders, namely customers and employees. To this end, this post opines that the top brands will be “the most empathetic” to deliver customer value. They also will focus on imbuing their internal culture with empathy “to bring out the best in its people.” In all, when empathy is the hallmark of a business, those who are part of it “understand that we all have different needs, challenges and perspectives.” These attuned employees “are more likely to cultivate strong relationships with customers and their team members — going the extra mile for them and for the company.”   

Can empathy “Fight The Great Resignation”? Fortune thinks so. “Empathy, not efficiency, is the answer to burnout and the way for companies to avoid finding themselves on the losing end of The Great Resignation.” This post urges organizations to design people-centric ways of thinking and operating. “No matter the industry, empathy can and will be the defining variable that creates trust. And trust builds loyalty.”   

How to Strengthen Empathy 
Is empathy inborn or acquired? The debate rages on. But Psychology Today notes: “Empathy is an innate capacity that needs to be developed, and to see it as a detail in a larger picture.”    

That said, what are ways to fortify empathy?  On a personal level, consider tips from Indeed:  

  • Take listening to another level. Practice “active listening,” which is “listening to a speaker to understand their question or request before thinking of a response.” It laser focuses your attention and gets you inside their head and heart. 
  • Craft what you say for the intended target(s). Think about the composition and needs of your audience, then adapt your messaging to make the best impact. Vary words and terms used, delivery, and other factors to those on the receiving end. 
  • Practice compassion. Put the third phase of empathy into motion. Swing into action. Offer to help. Then help. It shows you understand and care.   
  • Rewind and recast. Clear your own cache, your usual way of thinking to welcome in other perspectives.  Learn to get outside yourself. It enables you to start with a blank slate to detect others’ drifts and desires.
  • Pop the questions. Ask away to ensure you’re on the right track. Don’t assume you know what someone is expressing. Get to the root of an individual’s purpose, views and feelings.  
  • “Validate their feelings.” Communicate you heard what a person said. Confirm you know it’s important and you are available. “You practice empathy by acknowledging what they are experiencing, which can have a positive impact on the conversation.”  

What can companies do to foster an empathetic work environment? Forbes advises to:  

  • Go top down. Empathetic company culture starts at the highest reaches. The top tier “must commit to doing whatever it takes to give employees a great working experience so that everyone across the organization has everything needed to deliver their best.”  
  • Bake empathy into responsibilities. Spread the empathy word to managers; make them accountable for committing to and practicing empathy. 
  • Engage employees. Solicit feedback, involve in decisions, convey news, and make them part of a transparent culture. Give all “the freedom to explore and have the chance to give voice to their ideas.”  
  • Craft a safe environment. Make everyone feel comfortable to share their experiences of achievement and failure. “Celebrate vulnerability” because “vulnerable discussions involving differing perspectives go a long way toward creating an empathetic culture based on trust.”    
  • Determine true values. What does the organization stand for? Identify, communicate, and see it through. “Organizations that commit to their values and lead with empathy will see a powerful first-mover advantage.”   

“Take the leap” is the message to draw from these last bullet points. And what is the overriding takeaway from this post? Two words: Empathy Matters.

 

About the author. 
You name it, she covers it. That’s the can-do attitude Sherry M. Adler brings to the craft of writing. A polished marketing and communications professional, she has a passion for learning and the world at large. She uses it plus the power of words to inform and energize stakeholders of all kinds. And to show how all of this can make a difference, she calls her business WriteResults NY, LLC.

The ongoing pandemic, coupled with Americans’ fast-changing attitudes about their life at work, has radically reshaped the labor landscape.  
Sluggish demographic growth and a growing legion of burned out workers who are opting out means that the pool of available labor is diminishing. Employees have made such a dramatic beeline for the exit that Texas A&M professor Anthony Klotz coined the term The Great Resignation 

Organizations are struggling to fill roles and retain burned out employees, which means that workers have become increasingly important stakeholders. Employers need to rethink work and management styles, adjust their strategies, and innovate quickly because right now, the odds are not ever-in-their-favor. Job openings are near an all-time high, and with talent pipelines at a slow drip, hiring has become a rough and tumble full contact sport. 

But as the game ratchets up into ever-higher gear, one innovative solution is hiding in plain sight: older workers.  

Baby boomers may just be the answer to the labor shortage challenge 
When most of us think of freelancers, we envision millennials. While they have embraced the gig economy, they are increasingly working alongside middle-aged and older Americans seeking alternate ways to stay employed past the traditional retirement age. 

Workers age 55 or older have been leaving their jobs at higher rates than before the pandemic — the share of older workers who exited increased by 7.6% points during the pandemic — but many are not ready to retire. The Pew Research Center estimates that 20% of the American gig economy — from marketing consultants to Uber drivers — are over 50. 

Businesses may pay a high price if they don’t recast their labor market lens. A 2021 report by AARP estimates that excluding older workers could cost the United States economy nearly $4 trillion by 2050. Today’s labor shortage is an opportunity to evolve thinking for individual and collective benefit.  

Generational diversity does a company good. 
Employers get a lot of proverbial bang for their buck when they create an age-inclusive workplace. A 2013 study of 147 German companies, published in the Journal of Management, found higher profits and growth projections in organizations with a mix of workers of various ages and higher employee productivity and retention rates.  

Older workers bring cognitive diversity to their teams, which improves business performance. Mixed-age work teams have higher relative productivity. An AARP study found that age diversity in a group involved in complex decision-making tasks performed better than mono-age teams. And age diversity within an organization can lower employee turnover.  

Hiring older workers can both ease the challenge of hiring in this tight labor market and result in greater generational diversity for businesses, bestowing the benefits that diversity in all its guises brings to operations and the bottom line. For this to happen, organizations will need to shift their acquisition strategies to be more all-encompassing and be conscious of moving past implicit age bias that often hampers older workers’ employment searches.  

Hiring managers need to remove coded language like “recent college graduate” from job descriptions and dispense with terms like “ninja,” “digital native,” “rock star,” and “guru,” among others. Older workers being tech-illiterate or overqualified are common assumptions that need to be left aside. Instead, talent acquisition teams should focus on the knowledge and expertise that come with experience, which are the main predictors of job performance. Older workers frequently outperform their younger counterparts on many success metrics, like stronger interpersonal skills, less turnover, and less absenteeism.  

Say hello to returnships and partnering with organizations dedicated to older adults. 
One way to leverage older workers’ skills is to offer “returnships” — full-time paid internships for adults who have been out of the workforce for several years. Returnships help get people back to paid work while giving employers a chance to diversify their workforce to reflect the communities their businesses are serving more accurately.   

Another smart way to access job-ready older workers is to partner with organizations that can help recruit talent across age groups. AARP Foundation has several job skills training programs, such as the Digital Skills Ready@50+ initiative, which focuses on training more vulnerable older adults, like women and people of color, in underserved communities. Its goal is to help this demographic group gain the digital skills to succeed in today’s tech-driven workplace. Partnering with organizations like AARP can offer companies a pipeline of older candidates to consider who have the necessary digital skills to be job-ready from the jump.  

Bottom Line:  
Today’s hiring challenges can become tomorrow’s opportunity — but nothing will change if employers don’t abandon hiring and firing practices that favor the young. To be competitive in this market means companies need to reinvent how they approach diversity, including age in the matrix, and rethink whom they invest in. It’s the dawning of a new day indeed. 

 

About the author
An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable. 

According to Gartner’s 2020 CMO Spend Survey, during the first year of the pandemic, a whopping 32 percent of marketing work formerly completed by an outside agency moved in-house. While the obvious benefit is cost-savings, this technique also increases efficiencies and allows strategic creative control.

Because they are fully dedicated to one brand, in-house agency teams are generally smaller than marquee agencies of record, and a slimmer team equals less overhead. However, during major communications and marketing campaigns, this can pose a challenge. When a significant amount of top-quality content must be produced and disseminated — social media posts, graphic design assets, blog posts, etc. — the in-house team can find themselves overwhelmed. What if you’re on multiple deadlines and your in-house agency is tight on bandwidth and in need of content production support?

Enter overflow support. “Adding contractors and freelancers will help you avoid hiring too many full-time equivalents (FTEs) unless and until a full workload is warranted and sustained by business needs,” writes Sally Witzky of Gartner. Tapping into flexible resources allows in-house agencies to “monitor resource allocation and to effectively use in-house talent.” In fact, 36 percent of survey respondents told Gartner they develop their digital marketing strategy sets in-house but depend on agencies and third parties for execution.

Creative360

Creative360 is Creative Circle’s solutions division that helps clients with in-house agencies ramp up content creation during major projects. We draw from Creative Circle’s nationwide pool of creative, marketing, and digital talent to build overflow production studios that work seamlessly as extensions of in-house agencies. The in-house agency drives the overall project strategy, while Creative360 selects a team to provide clients with the highest-quality deliverables, whatever they may be.

Hiring freelancers to churn out content is a familiar strategy. But Creative360 provides even more value to clients by providing an experienced marketing expert to serve as engagement lead, free of charge. The engagement lead assesses how best to relieve the client’s pain points, curates a team, integrates them into the client’s existing systems and workflows, and oversees them to ensure they consistently deliver high-quality work on time. Engagement leads also provide full financial oversight, keep track of a client’s budget, and manage team onboarding, timecards, and training.

This is all done without the retainers and high fees of AORs and without the headaches of working with unfamiliar teams.  And if a client loves a candidate, they can convert them to a full-time employee with ease!

Overflow production studios at work

One example — an international CPG house of brands was in the final phase of a campaign to boost brand equity but lacked a channel strategy to socialize the campaign. They needed a partner to help deliver a one-month campaign concept and social calendar and create more than 70 digital assets, in less than four weeks. Creative360 assembled a team of an art director, two designers, and a copywriter, and in three weeks, we created four animated banners, 51 social assets, and a newsletter. The client has retained Creative360 to direct its organic social strategy and take on more overflow projects such as sizzle reels, new product splash pages, and animated Instagram gifs.

“The challenge is to monitor resource allocation and to effectively use in-house talent,” writes Sally Witzky. “Adding contractors and freelancers will help you avoid hiring too many full-time equivalents (FTEs) unless and until a full workload is warranted and sustained by business needs.”

Another client, a national commercial real estate firm, needed speed, skill, and labor to manage the ever-growing workload of their local marketing teams. Specifically, they needed to relieve their teams of the ongoing, pressing task of updating templates for business and marketing collateral. Creative360 assembled a group of outstanding production artists and paired them with a skilled project manager to create a production design hub. Working closely with their leadership team, we deployed a process and tracking tool that aligned seamlessly with their established process. Our quick support and process implementation significantly increased output during the pilot phase, and nearly all Creative360 talent has been retained by the client for future strategic initiatives.

The bottom line

There are myriad situations where it makes sense to let Creative360 support your in-house teams with stellar content — you’re on deadline and understaffed and overwhelmed; you don’t need a permanent, full-time creative team but you need to produce a volume of impeccable content in a short period of time; you’ve just launched a massive campaign and your in-house agency needs some outside help to drive the project… Whatever your need, Creative360 has the people, the expertise, and the agility you require. Find out more at creativecircle.com/clients/creative360.
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Situations where you could use an overflow production studio

An overflow production studio is the perfect solution when you have the strategy covered, but you need extra hands to create assets during a major project. Maybe your agency of record is too expensive, or your internal team just doesn’t have the bandwidth to keep up. Clients often face these problems in situations such as:

  • Developing assets for a marketing or advertising campaign
  • Designing and launching a new website
  • Rolling out a new line of products
  • Leading an internal digital transformation
  • Targeting new customers, or existing customers in a new way
  • Implementing a new workforce or project management system
  • Transforming your customer experience program
  • Rebranding your company or products
  • Building a diversity, equity, and inclusion program
  • Transitioning to a refreshed companywide intranet