Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

It’s a bit of a no brainer that part of a successful marketing strategy for any business – whether a well-established brand or a small start-up – includes social media. With 83% of the adult population online and using at least one social platform, most businesses now use these channels to engage their customers or increase visibility.  

If you want results from social media though, it isn’t enough to just have a skeleton page with sporadic posts. It’s vital to not only put the hours in but to do some ground work first.

Stats show that 91% of marketing teams that invest six or more hours a week on social media achieve success, but first there needs to be some consideration as to why you’re posting. The basics include knowing your audience and how to engage with them, building an effective strategy that includes varied content, and setting measurement plans with the ability to optimise your strategy as needed.

This level of commitment can be daunting to businesses with a lack of knowledge looking to get started on social. Even for established social teams, more technical upskilling – such as analytics and paid advertising – could help your business reach its social media potential. In either case, it’s widely recognised that the next logical step to learning these new digital skills is to undertake some form of training.

But why stop there?

To really get the most out of social media, such as hitting those KPIs and bringing in leads, then perhaps you also need to think beyond the capabilities of your digital team. Figures reported by Social Media Today state that 60% of employees want to help boost their business by sharing relevant content online – could a wider investment into social media training for your employees help you achieve your online goals?

Alternative Benefits of Training

Upskilling your team on social media will of course benefit your business by adding new digital capabilities across the board, but there are wider perks in investing in training that could help in the war for talent:

  • Job Satisfaction – Your employees want more in this post-digital age – they must feel like it’s going somewhere with no brick walls or mundane repetition. A study conducted by Middlesex University found that from 4,300 workers, 74% were unhappy with the lack of development provided to them by their employers. Everyone wants to feel good at their job, and training your team on things like using their LinkedIn to network properly could be just the key to empowering them to go the extra mile.
  • Team Morale – If your employees feel they can share ideas with your digital team to help the business grow, then they’re likely to feel more engaged. The knock on effect to creating this collaborative and empowering culture is better team morale with an environment that your team can thrive in.

    Also, being recognised as a company that see value in investing in their people is a great start to building out your Employee Value Proposition.
  • Improved Staff Retention – The cost of losing a team member that knows your business and systems inside out, and has built up a great rapport with all your clients can be crippling. Providing the promise of a structured development plan – including the latest digital and social media training – is a brilliant perk and puts the business in a great position for retaining staff.

The list of benefits for training your staff is obviously extensive, but you need to ensure the training is right for the team and there is a demand for it – perhaps look at undertaking a skills atomisation exercise?

If you’re still a bit unstuck, we can provide an in-depth audit of where you are and where you need to be, and our courses can be tailored to your industry and current abilities. Get in touch to find out more or click here to check out our growing range of digital training courses.


Three Benefits of Flexible Working

Flexible working has become increasingly topical in recent years and is no longer limited to parents returning to work – achieving a work/life balance is now a common expectation for all workers.

The rise of flexible working has been so dramatic in this decade that 87% of UK employees now either work flexibly or want to do so. So much so that in 2018, a YouGov report claimed the death of the 9-5 working day.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working may have a different meaning or potential benefit depending on your situation. The UK Government defines examples of flexible working as ‘different start and finish times’ or ‘working from home’, but it could be expanded to include:

  • Working remotely
  • Working part-time, job-sharing or flexi-time.
  • Working staggered or compressed hours.

How and why flexible working has become so topical could be linked to advances in technology and connectivity, as employees are now able to shape their working days in a way that suits them.

It even stretches as far as utilising your journey to-and-from work to clear your inbox – a study from the University of the West of England showed that 54% of us that commute by rail use the onboard wifi to send work emails.

What does flexible working improve?

While there have been multiple studies proving the endless benefits to employers that offer flexible working, there are three key advantages that stand out:  

  • Talent Attraction – Whether you believe that there’s a talent shortage or not, it’s far easier to bring in top talent by offering a more modern benefits package as part of your EVP. According to research by Powwownow, 75% of candidates would opt for a company that offers flexible arrangements.
  • Productivity – a study by AAT showed that employees that are offered flexible working take less leave and are more productive, while YouGov reported in 2017 that 89% of employees considered flexible working as a primary factor behind their productivity.
  • Retention – the same AAT report noted that 75% of respondents would decline the opportunity of a new job if it didn’t offer flexible working. This is backed up by a research from BT that showed roughly the same percentage list flexible working in their top three priorities.  

Negative perceptions of flexible working

While flexible working opportunities have taken huge strides this decade, and new laws issued in 2014 give employees a statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks’ service, it still all comes as a cost.

Research from Kent University shows that flexible working arrangements are still viewed negatively by colleagues and may produce potential career blockers. Another study by Timewise also found that 68% of part-time workers feel as though they’ve accepted career compromises in order to work more flexibly.

As such, the term ‘flexism’ has been coined.

Alternatives to flexible working

In our recent Future of Work report, we noted that data and technology coming into HR departments could lead the way for an ‘Optimal Working’ practice. We’re now conducting further research to determine the appetite for such working methods in the digital and creative sectors, from both an employer and employee perspective.

HR leaders can provide their thoughts on flexible working in this survey, while employees in the digital and creative space can share their views here.

We’ll be sharing the outputs of both surveys, along with other research, later in 2019.


InHousing is such a hot topic at the moment (and we’re not just saying this because of the launch of InHouse). Every brand we’re in conversation with is talking about this internally – their HR and digital leaders are coming together to work out how they can bring their digital marketing InHouse.

So why is it such a popular trend? In short, brands are realising that bringing some or all of their marketing InHouse can be more effective than outsourcing to an agency.

As with most trends, it’s taken a couple of key players – the likes of Unilever, Sky and Lego – to conduct their own successful trials. Gideon Spanier of Campaign Live has consistently published interesting articles on these positive results and things have spiralled out from there.

And while InHousing gathers pace, brands are seeing more interweaving benefits. So much so, that we’ve created our top six reasons to InHouse (which all conveniently and completely coincidentally begin with the letter C – honest). We’ll expand on each point separately in further articles – for now, here’s an overview:


The general consensus is that this current wave of InHousing stemmed from brands not having control over their ad buying/paid media/programmatic output. In a Campaign Live interview, Accenture Interactive’s Amir Malik notes that there has been billions of dollars spent on ad placements that were never seen by a consumer.

On top of that, sharing data with agencies in this post-GDPR world could cause some controversy – nobody wants to be the next Cambridge Analytica now, do they?   


In a recent survey conducted by Digiday and Bannerflow, 87% of brands agreed to being concerned with the transparency of media agencies. Well, you would be if substantial budgets are being wasted on what is effectively non-existent advertising.


While the InHouse trend may have started with media planning, the Association of National Advertisers (USA) have reported that there have also been large spikes in other speciality services being brought InHouse, such as Content Marketing, Data Analytics, and Video Production. Having everything in one place helps to deliver consistency.

It begs the question, will some brands insource all of their digital marketing in the future?


While cost is an important factor to consider, InHousing shouldn’t be the vehicle that facilitates a race to the bottom. Quality first, right?

That said, Unilever have reported global savings of over $500m in their first full year of extensive InHousing. They believe that it works for them because their agency teams can work in a more agile way with their marketing teams – they can produce better quality work, at a faster pace and play to the marketers’ priorities. Which brings us onto our next point…


Unilever have reported that bringing their operations InHouse has led them to become more efficient and productive. You’d like to think that internal teams are more likely to buy into the brand. If it’s something they care about and understand, then you’d expect better results.


Without repeating what we’ve already mentioned regarding transparency, InHousing will provide marketing teams with data and metrics to make informed long-term decisions. For media buying in particular, by removing the agency layer, it gives the brand more opportunity to understand ad spend and performance.  


Ok, so it appears as though there’s actually a seventh C, because it’s not all rosy when it comes to InHousing.

In the Bannerflow report, they note that a lack of internal skills and resources are the biggest concerns for brands InHousing from an agency.  Obviously, you have to first find the talent – something that’s not entirely straightforward if you believe reports of a global talent crunch.

Not having the right readily available talent can put brands off. In fact, Digiday recently reported that Vodafone is reconsidering InHousing their programmatic ad buying.

What about external agencies?

The one thing that possibly can’t be replicated InHouse is the creative freshness that external knowledge brings. Digital agencies must innovate to compete and so they can bring something to the table – mostly in the form of a strategic partnership. Even with the success of their InHousing experiment, Unilever has said that they still ‘really value those external relationships’.

The main thing to consider is that InHousing is still in its infancy and so things will evolve. There are some that believe it’s just a passing phase, but it’s likely that a hybrid model is the future, and brands may need assistance from agencies to move InHouse.


At our recent Future of Work workshop, we were able to discuss and debate the challenges that businesses face in the post-digital era with some industry experts. Topics such as the talent shortage and what future leaders look like were raised.

We’ve since continued the conversation with one of our attendees – Carly Poulson – who is Head of Talent Acquisition at award-winning investment crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube. We asked what companies should be thinking about when building future-proof digital teams – here’s what Carly had to say:

The current situation

“Anyone looking to build out their team or anyone working in talent and people management knows we have our work cut out for us. There are so many factors to consider: globalisation, increased competition, the pace of technological change, the fall in productivity, an ageing population (in both the UK and the EU), and the changes in attitudes towards work.

There’s also a higher need for more flexibility and a sense of purpose, and this all contributes towards the uncertainty and the creation of new challenges for the world of work.

In a recent TedTalk by Roy Bahat titled ‘What is the meaning of work’, he explains how a team of researchers initially studying the impact of technology, and AI in particular, on work, came to the following conclusion that people only want two key things: stability and dignity (or self worth) at work. With this in mind, there are three steps that businesses should consider.”

Step One – Think About Purpose

“Businesses should first and foremost think about their purpose, how they communicate it, and how they get their teams engaged with it. ‘What’s our mission and what are our values? Do we have a well defined employee value proposition?’”

Step Two – Think About Scale

“Next they need to think about how they are going to execute this now and how is the future shaping up. ‘How do we design the organisation structure and the roles within to deliver on our goals and ambitions?’”

Step Three – Think About Skills & Abilities

“Next they need to think about the skills and abilities they need. ‘Who do we need to hire now? And what about in the future? Could we develop these skills internally?’.”


“If as businesses we can design an agile organisation with roles that have meaning, we can create a culture of learning with strong L&D programs, and we can hire people with the right attitude and the ability and desire to learn, we can a build future-proof digital team. Going back to the key points of Roy’s TedTalk, it’s important that we give our employees the stability and dignity they crave, all the while creating an agile organisation that can adapt to an ever changing world.”

If you’re looking to build your digital team’s capabilities, then check out our InHouse services, or get in touch below.


The future of work will bring a number of challenges, such as a digital talent shortage and a need for a strong employer brand. On the back of this, how we recruit and form teams is likely to change, and so how we lead them teams should also evolve, right?

I’m sure we’ve all experienced good and bad bosses – from archaic authoritarians that are still stuck in the 70s, to those with a more personable and caring touch.

Here, we’ll look into the different leadership styles of today, before then delving deeper into the makeup of a future employee and what skills their respective leaders must hold.

What are the different leaders of today?

Depending on where you source your information, you’ll find an array of potential leadership styles. While we’ll dig into a few sub-styles, most can typically relate to one of two approaches:    transactional leadership or transformational leadership.

Transactional denotes an exchange of sorts and is somewhat specific – “I’ll give you pay if you complete this workload, but if the tasks aren’t to my liking, then I’ll revoke your job”. It’s generally responsive and can be met with lots of negativity – see my 70s-esque manager example for reference – and leaders can be very autocratic or bureaucratic. You’ll find a lot of task-oriented micro-managers falling under this category. While I may not be painting it in the best of lights, this style of management can be incredibly effective in situations where a sequence of set tasks need to be completed.

On the Transformational side, you’ll find a more proactive leader that cares about aligning moral values, ethics and trust with their staff. They’ll inspire creativity and personal development in order to achieve a common goal, and they offer a people-oriented  democratic approach to work. Servant leaders are a good example – they lead from the back and will strive to empower their teams while sharing the credit.

Some other management styles include the laissez-faire leader – a very hands-off approach with no control or input into their staff’s workload – and the charismatic leader – one that charms their employees into sharing their ambitions, but are mainly self-serving and will take all the credit.

All management types can be effective in the present day, dependent on the situation. When we look to the future of work, will the changes to how we form teams render certain leadership styles obsolete?

The future worker

In our Future of Work Report, we identified a clear focus on productivity and a shift to more project-based employment as two likely predictions for the 2020s. Another trend we touched on is Pragmatic Personas – how, when the next generation reach working age, personal branding becomes less about about culture and personality, and skews back towards skills.

So as we enter the new decade and the next generation of workers seek employment, what soft-skills will they need to thrive?

According to the WEF, three core skills include creativity, adaptability, problem solving. And due to the pace at which technology will advance, there must also be a commitment to lifelong learning.

The needs of these digital natives will also change. Job security becomes less of a priority; it’s more about fulfilling passion and interest, as well as sharing a vision and journey with their employer. They want to add value and they want to know that they’re contributing to the business’ success.

The future leader

What does this mean for the leaders of the future workforce?

Aside from possessing all the skills listed above, a leader will also need to go one step further to develop strong people management skills.

Firstly, they’ll need to be strong communicators – being able to understand and articulate the shared vision with their employees is key.  On the understanding front, a high-level of human intelligence quotient is also apparent. They need to be able to tap into the reasons behind their peoples’ actions and behaviours. Portraying emotional intelligence and diplomacy at all times is likely to win over your future workers too.

Transformational or transactional?

From what we’ve learned, the future predictions are all suggesting that the transformational leadership style are the direction we’re heading in. You’ll need a mix of democratic people-oriented leaders, as the human touch is essential to gain buy-in.

The problem we have is that the slow process usually associated with transformational styles could be detrimental to increased productivity.

While a transactional approach might offer a short-term fixes, the autocratic or bureaucratic approach doesn’t allow for value adding, and so is likely to become outdated.

Automation of tasks

Automation could actually be the saving grace to a world with no transactional leaders. If you consider the situations in which transactional management is most effective – namely low-skilled or unskilled labour – these are the areas that are ripe for automation.

With tasks being completed by our robot friends – whom we hope won’t need an arm around the shoulder in order to get the most out of them – it eradicates the need for the authoritarian approach.

Automated leaders

While we’re on the subject of automation, there’s every chance that leadership itself could be robotic – you only have to look at the Uber or Deliveroo models to see how this could happen.

If that is the case, would it make everyone their own leader by default?


Leaders of the future are extremely likely to be personable and proactive, with clear ethics and values. They’ll be motivational and will strive to empower their staff – if they’re not, it’s possible they won’t have any staff at all.

But leadership is possibly not restrictive to just a select few anymore. As we embrace lifelong learning within our extended careers, leadership skills should be honed as standard. With there being multiple possibilities of what the future may hold – including one where everyone is potentially their own leader – it’s a handy addition to the skills toolbox.  

Download our Future of Work report to read more on our other predictions for the 2020s.


As we progress into the post-digital age, marketing and HR are beginning to align. There have always been links – communication is imperative in both departments, for example – but HR teams are now turning to techniques such as social media and content marketing to source top talent, and crossover terms like ‘employer brand’ and ‘employer value proposition (EVP)’ are becoming increasingly popular – but what do they mean?       

Originally coined in the 1990s, your employer brand is simply how you are perceived in the talent market. It relates to staff experience at all stages of the employee lifecycle, from initial engagement through to onboarding, career progression and then offboarding and beyond.

While the term is relatively new, you could say that employer brand as a concept has always existed – it’s just your reputation as an employer, and so can only be controlled by creating exceptional experiences for employees.

And that brings us to your employer value proposition (EVP).

Your EVP is all about defining what your company stands for. It brings together what you offer as an employer – so pay, benefits, environment, career development, daily perks – while also encompassing the company’s culture, values and mission. It’s everything that makes your employees get out of bed and love coming into the office, and is that middle ground between what employees and employers want.

Considering there’s a perceived talent shortage, it’s easy to see how having both a strong employer brand and EVP is important – the two go very much hand-in-hand.

Unfortunately, there are no clever marketing tricks for developing your employer brand though. This is all about the long-term and is best developed with input from the whole company – not just the leadership team. Building the employer brand feeds into the proactive approach that HR play in the future of work too.

Going back to those links with your marketing department, your employer brand should align well with your consumer brand – they should share a tone of voice, for example. And while you would think that a solid consumer brand would therefore mean a strong employer brand – think again.

The Amazon anomaly

Amazon are the perfect example of perceived damaged goods (their employer brand, I mean, not their deliveries).

Earlier this decade, a BBC Panorama documentary highlighted working conditions at Amazon as among the worst in the UK and a New York Times piece noted a high-pressure cut-throat environment.  While CEO Jeff Bezos sent a memo to all employees immediately after the NYT piece, and the claims of being a bad employer were publicly dismissed by some members of staff, as we approach the 2020s their damaged reputation may be hard to shake.

I reached out to a few people within my social networks to get a very small sample of what they thought of Amazon as an employer. Only 11% believed them to have a strong employer brand, as opposed to 68% that thought it was bad.

Funnily enough, if you look at their UK Glassdoor reviews, you’ll see a solid 3.8 score (at the time of writing!). Their Comparably reviews are strong as well.

So why is there such a difference between market perception and the views of Amazon’s employees? How did Amazon continue to hire talent while being labelled as an awful place to work?

It could be down to their strong customer brand – at the time of writing 72% of UK Trustpilot reviews are excellent or great. They use leverage from being a top retailer to attract talent that want to push the boundaries on innovation. These types of people are typically high-performers that thrive under pressure, and so they’ve now built an EVP around what was previously a problem.

Pretty smart, actually. And no doubt their employer brand (or at least the market perception) will improve in time.

Benefits of a strong employer brand

So what benefits are there of building your EVP and taking control of your employer brand?

Easier (and possibly cheaper) hiring process:

72% of executives believe that employer branding has an impact on hiring and 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.

When you’re an employer of choice, building talent pools becomes easier. If people have bought into your company, then they’ll likely find you. Therefore, KPIs such as cost-per-hire and time-to-hire are dramatically decreased.

However, don’t forget that the hiring process in itself could actually affect your employer brand too, or even your consumer brand. Virgin Media found that 6% of their 123,000 rejected candidates each year went on to cancel their monthly subscription due to a bad experience, which ended up costing them £4.4m annually.

Ensure you’re covering the basics with candidates at the very least. Be receptive and respond to all applicants. Keep them engaged so that even if you’re not hiring, you’re making them advocates.

Extended employee lifecycle:

If you’re aligning your values with your existing employees and new recruits, then you’re fostering an inclusive culture. This is going to lead to better staff attrition. In fact, LinkedIn have reported that companies investing in employer branding experience a 28% decrease in staff turnover.

Improve performance:

71% of companies with a clear and effective employer brand have reported improved company performance, as opposed to 45% of firms with less developed employer brands.

Next Steps

If you’re looking to build an EVP from scratch, perhaps start by consulting with your wider organisation, not just the leadership. Employee engagement surveys are a great place to start. Understand what makes them tick and what gets them out of bed each morning.

Defining an employer brand is probably best developed with the marketing team – you’ve got a lot to take from the no-doubt already developed consumer brand in terms of language used in communications. Perhaps also do some research on what people are saying about you on social media and sites like Glassdoor.

Your marketing team may also help you turn your research into talent profiles – the HR version of customer personas. Talent profiles are important as you want to ensure you’re targeting the right audience with the right message.  From there, you can build awareness through strong SEO, social media and content marketing strategies.

If you’re looking for outside assistance in developing your employer brand, our hybrid services could be just the answer – you can find out more here.


HR’s Role In The Future Of Work

The role of HR within a company is evolving. Over the years, the perception among the workforce is that HR serves the management – being called into a meeting with HR was typically never a positive experience, and usually meant either an instant dismissal or being performance managed into that ‘coup de grace’.

While policy is still important, HR’s main purpose is no longer just about governance – issues like the ongoing battle for talent have forced the change. So what are HR’s primary functions both in the present and the future?

Current HR initiatives and trends

A quick look around some of the reports gives us some indication of where HR is heading.

In Gartners’ 2019 Future of HR survey, ‘performance management’ came tenth in a list of HR leader’s top initiatives for this year, while ‘employee experience’ is up in third – signifying that a more proactive approach to harnessing the potential of the workforce is now commonplace.

Also within the top five key initiatives are ‘building critical skills and competencies’, ‘organisational design and change management’ and ‘driving digital transformation’. This tells us that HR leaders’ are tasked with building new digital cultures with their companies. That’s hardly a surprise, given how 67% of HR leaders believe that if their business doesn’t digitise, then they won’t survive.

This can be cross-referenced with a recent article by Digital HR. Included within the top four of their trends for 2019 are ‘future-proofing employees’, ‘enabling a tech mindset’ and ‘continuous learning’. Again, the general theme is centred around building a digital ‘employee first’ culture and developing employee skills are paramount.

Developing digital skills and cultures

Another of Digital HR’s trends – but seemingly towards the bottom of the list – is the use of People Analytics. Now, data in the workplace is something of a taboo subject – surely given recent scandals and bad publicity, nobody wants their employer collating all sorts of information, do they?

Surprisingly, Accenture’s recent ‘Decoding Organisational DNA’ report states that 92% of employees are open to the collection of data on them and their work if it improves productivity or wellbeing. In other words, they’re open to their data being harnessed if it improves their ‘employee experience’.

So, how are we currently faring on that front? Well, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, 80% of HR executives prioritised employee experience, but only 22% of employees felt that they had a personalised experience.

It shows that there’s still a long way to go, but HR leaders have a clear mandate to consult their own employees about a transparent introduction of data.

New technologies

Utilising data within HR will also facilitate the introduction of other new technologies like AI, machine learning and deep learning. And it’s not just about using these tools for automating menial tasks, such as CV sifting or interview setting, but actually solving business critical tasks.

When we go back to that ‘employee experience’ initiative, these technologies can be used to make data-driven decisions on the entire lifecycle of an employee, from engagement throughout the recruitment and onboarding process, to their ongoing training and development, as well as personalising their benefits and rewards.

As the technologies evolve, AI and machine learning can be used to identify high-risk workers in advance, and can recommend steps to re-engaging the employee.

Data can also be used to atomise critical roles and skills to help create a more adaptable workforce. In our own Future of Work Report, we identified that employment is likely to become more project-based – an agile workforce is therefore crucial to thriving and responsibility for creating this will fall within HR’s remit.

And what about the future of work?

From what we’ve read and what industry leaders are telling us, HR’s role in the future of work is about enabling the employee experience in order to develop a positive workplace culture.

The key to an autonomous and future-ready workforce is building a personalised environment that encourages optimal working and lifelong learning, and allowing employees to access resources as and when they need them.

This can’t be achieved without the use of digital. While there may not be the mainstream technologies available now, HR will soon be able to embed unified systems that create unique experiences for your employees.
If you’re seeking guidance on developing your company’s digital culture, InHouse offers a range of consultative services. You can view them here.


While role atomisation isn’t necessarily a new term, it has been used fairly sparingly in the infancy of the digital age. If you’ve not come across it as yet, atomisation is all about breaking down a specific role. Once its been atomised, you can determine what tasks can be automated or outsourced, so your team are utilising their core skills as much as possible and not being bogged down with an inefficient workload.

The theory is that you’ll have more satisfied employees, a more optimised workflow and of course, there are then knock-on commercial benefits that will no doubt appease the board.

However, atomising also serves another purpose. As well as defining roles, it allows us to also break down a digital team’s capabilities to understand specific strengths and potential skills gaps.

Setting up a digital skills atomisation project

Step One

While it’ll take a collaborative effort from HR and digital leaders, setting up a skills atomisation project is fairly simple and can be done within a spreadsheet. Some HR software tools may also provide the function to carry out these projects, but as a spreadsheet is more universal, we’ll use that in our example.

Step Two

Within the spreadsheet, create a table with your digital team members listed vertically down the A column, and all the digital skills required across row 1. You can be as broad or as granular as you prefer with the skills: wider digital teams may prefer to generalise skills such as ‘design’, ‘development’ or ‘SEO’; specific teams may opt to go more granular and list software or languages such as ‘Adobe Photoshop’, ‘PHP’ or ‘SEMRush’.

Step Three

Once your table is complete, consult with your digital team individually and ask them to rank their skills within each category. It may be that they choose between ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’.

Step Four

After each person’s skills have been inputted (and their rankings have been verified by their line managers), you’ll have a comprehensive overview of your teams’ capabilities. This matrix can then be used to highlight your digital team’s strengths and potential skills gaps.

Actions after atomising

Your skills matrix can inform structured learning and development plans for your digital team. If you identify large gaps within the capabilities, you can invest in the relevant training courses to address this.

Or if you’ve identified a specialist within your team, you could encourage a HR-facilitated collaborative learning scheme. The experts can lead sessions with their colleagues to share their knowledge and experience in the particular subject.

Another use is if you cross-reference with workload capacity data – probably easier if your team works with an agile methodology – you’ll also be able to make informed hiring decisions too, both for permanent employees and temporary workers.


When building your matrix, another area to consider is future skills. Technologies such as machine learning, AI or voice search are likely to be a large part of any digital team in the coming years, so planning ahead could be a worthwhile investment.

The final benefit of skills atomisation is about future-proofing. Atomisation could play a big part in how digital teams are formed in the coming years – especially with what we deduced around project-based work in our Future of Work Report. And with the digital talent crunch and skills gap set to deepen, developing your own future superstars could be invaluable.

If you’re looking at conducting your own digital atomisation project, but would like assistance from experts, get in touch with our InHouse team.


If you work in a HR or recruitment focused position for the digital industry, the chances are that you’re aware of the so-called talent shortage (also known as the talent crunch, and something that’s likely to incite phrases such as ‘where are all these bloody candidates?’). But is it really a thing?

Recent statistics indicate it could be.

50% of UK businesses have reported a problem with recruitment and 33% of those say it’s due to a lack of applicants. Also, 64% of businesses recorded a larger spend on recruitment activities in 2018 than ever before. Herein lies our first problem.

Post and Pray Recruitment

Digital has changed the way we work, the way we recruit and ultimately how teams are formed. With sites like Glassdoor, potential candidates have more insight into the internal dynamics of your company.

And as the next generation employee is seeking much more than just long-term security,  employers no longer hold all the cards. Therefore, posting a bland advert with a list of requirements is unlikely to yield results.

Today’s digital candidate is seeking job satisfaction and learning opportunities, so your adverts should detail how they’re going to add value and what’s in for them.

Digital Skills Gap

As well as the talent crunch, you may have also heard about the digital skills gap? It’s highly likely you have, as the two are intrinsically linked.

To put it simply, there is now more demand for skills than there are skilled workers, and 72% of large companies have reported a lack of digital and tech skills within their business.

Given the rate at which digital is accelerating, today’s experts are tomorrow’s dinosaurs. If there is no-one with the relevant skills to mentor and pass on the knowledge within your organisation, it’s going to extremely hard to develop talent without the help of external specialists. This could be a digital training provider that upskills your staff, or you could bridge the gap by hiring a talented freelancer.

Freelance Generation

While we’re on the subject of freelancers, the meteoric rise of the gig economy also plays its part in the perceived lack of talent. According to IPSE – the association for Independent Professionals and Self Employed – there has been a 36% increase in knowledge-based freelancers working in the digital and creative space since 2008.

The freelance revolution is showing no signs of slowing either. 87% of those currently in full-time employment are open to freelance or more flexible opportunities, and PwC estimate that 20% of the workforce will be comprised of freelancers within the next couple of years.

It’s highly plausible that this rise in freelancers is linked to the global financial crisis and subsequent recruitment freeze in the late 2000s – companies stopped hiring and so talented people decided to go it alone. More people followed and now 1.3m digitally skilled candidates are no longer in permanent employment.


Ongoing research from the Manpower Group potentially backs up the claim that the talent crunch is market-linked.

Their annual Talent Shortage Survey shows that when the ‘GFC’ hit in 2008, the number of employers experiencing difficulties with recruiting was at its lowest. The latest report shows that the figure now at its highest since they started recording the data.

With Brexit around the corner and an impending recession in 2020, the talent market is ripe for further skewing.

Looking to the future

As we look ahead to the next decade, it’s highly likely that both the skills gap and subsequent talent crunch will deepen. It’s possible that there will be people available, but they just won’t be digitally equipped.

In London alone, it’s predicted that there will be a deficit of 4.2m highly skilled digital workers by 2024. On a global scale, that figure could be over 85m workers by 2030 with unrealised revenue that equals the combined GDP of Germany and Japan.

What does this tell us?

Let’s recap:

  • Candidate requirements have changed and if you want to attract talented people, you need to do more than just posting adverts and hoping for the best.
  • There’s a digital skills gap that is likely to widen.
  • Even if you’re employing top people currently, there’s a chance they could leave and join the freelance generation.
  • Volatile markets can add further challenges in the future.

So how do you thrive?

Unfortunately. there are no real quick fixes here – it’s all about investment in people and culture, and creating an environment that allows your employees to grow and realise their career ambitions. To achieve this, HR leaders must be proactive in taking the conversation to the wider business.

Keeping your digital team up-to-date with the latest skills and technology is an important part of that. 92% of employees have said that having the right tools determines whether they’re satisfied at work. While it might seem like an enormous undertaking, the investment will be worth it in the long run – the Centre for Economics and Business Research have said that digitally upskilling people will be worth £15 in 2028 for every £1 invested now.

You can read more about how the Future of Work may impact your strategy for attracting and retaining talent by downloading our free report.