As our industry hits a recruitment crisis, ARC Event Consultancy co-founder Rebecca Leach considers whether we are doing enough to create the right culture and support within our organisations and companies to attract and retain people in events.
The pandemic showed many people that the events industry is not a secure place to work. Like many people who had worked in events all their lives, within a week at the end of March 2020, every contract our company had in place had been cancelled and our income was reduced to zero.
Move on two years and events are back with a bang but lots of the people, especially those with knowledge and experience, are not. Across all sectors of the event industry there are issues with recruitment. The buzz and excitement people get from working in events isn’t always worth the stress, uncertainty, short contracts and long hours that it is known for.
There are some great initiatives to bring more young people into the industry, university degrees, college and online courses, which provide people with a great grounding for getting their first role in events. Many entry level roles have decent numbers of applicants but most major sports events have large numbers of experienced roles unfulfilled, with no knowledge of where these people will come from.
Most job descriptions for event jobs include sentences such as:
* Willing to work unsociable hours
* Willing to work weekends
We all know that during events the expectations are that employees will work early mornings to late evenings and it is always a struggle to ‘turn off’ from work.
When we set up ARC Event Consultancy, focussing on major sports events, our aim was to work around our families and wherever possible to maintain a work / life balance. We love events but didn’t want to continue to work the long hours required or be moving location for each new event. So, we focussed on events in the UK, we worked from home, we set the tone and expectations right from the start with each event we worked on. Our opening gambit was often, ‘We can’t be away for long periods of time and we have to fit the work around family life, but we have lots of experience, we promise to deliver and do a great job.’ Fortunately, the plan worked, and we have managed to build our business over the years, and luckily once again since the pandemic.
There are so many more people out there who love events but are worried that a job in events means giving up everything else. Some event organisations are doing an amazing job and putting more focus onto people, but what could we all do to make our industry more open to everyone? How can we protect welfare of our employees during event delivery time? Are we expecting people to give up family life or any kind of work /life balance to deliver an event? What could we do differently to ensure events maintain an experienced, knowledgeable and content workforce?