Zero Hour Contracts – Working hard or hardly working staff

Those that have had the opportunity to work within the events industry will be all too familiar with the ebb and flow of demand and work loads that come with such a dynamic environment. An industry in which no two days are the same carry the constant burden for employers of balancing supply with demand whilst ensuring standards are maintained throughout. As a result, an increasing need for flexibility is pushing the adoption of zero hour contracts for labour requirements within this sector.

 

The Office of National Statistics estimates a number of 250’000 event industry workers and 48% of employers within hotel, catering and leisure industries hosting at least one employee currently on this form of contract. The benefits of which are quite clear in the view of the employer, giving them flexibility and in some cases being a key factor in ensuring business survival however, it isn’t all so well for the employee.

 

Whilst for many employee’s this gives the perfect work-life balance providing the opportunity to work and being free to complete personal responsibilities, many face the issue of lack of job security. For those who depend on a minimum number of hours, sudden fluctuations can result in severe personal consequences and therefore influence their working behavior, seeing insecurity as a demotivating factor of hard work.

 

With no workload guarantee, many employee’s may participate in several contracts given wider opportunity for work, however, due to this organisations must have a larger collective of employees to cater with the flexibility. As a result, a feeling of competition is likely to arise between staff members. An environment of competitive-reward can often create a higher motivated workforce with the perception that increased quality and efficiency output of the staff member being rewarded with an advanced position for more hours as the opportunity arises. If this occurs, it can be beneficial to both the employee with increased psychological reward; as well as the employer with a higher productivity rate within the organisation.

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However, the nature of this style of employment also generates a series of issues. Exploitation of workforce by using these contract is not uncommon and in many ways not illegal although immoral. For full time staff, the lack of consistency can have negative effects including fewer employees needing to carry higher work loads as well as creating an environment with increased pressure and less flexibility.

 

Maintaining a motivated workforce within an industry known for its high turnover (31%) has its issues however, adding this relatively new type of contract to the problem may cause even more. Staffing agency MD Tom Eatenton explains “How can you expect long-term thinking, reliability or commitment form those working for you if you give none back”. This quote provides a clear example of where the balance of commitment it required from both the employer and employee to ensure a productive workforce. Without accommodating the needs of the employee, businesses can expect to see a fall in motivation quality of staff.

 

Those that opt into this method of employment can easily become a victim of “exploitation”; with many earning less than the living wage financial instability is a big issue. Not only this but the employee also does not have the benefits of other employment forms. Sickness and holiday pay are but two examples of where the needs of the employee are not met therefore for the most disincentives’ the want to work hard. It does however benefit the employer as it enables the avoidance of paying such benefits as well as reducing administrative resources being used.

 

When an employees needs are ignored there is a increased level of disloyalty towards the organisation as the worker will often not hesitate float between jobs at a higher rate. Even the smallest variations between roles or benefits will be a driving force for staff movement therefore resulting in a much higher requirement of new employment as well as training costs related to this. The cost of hiring new employees (especially with a high turnover rate) can be the difference between success and failure due to increasing strain on financial resources as well as issues with maintaining consistent quality of service.

 

It is essential for the employer to develop a respectful relationship with this type of employment. Ensuring high quality service is essential for continued growth and development of the sector as well as driving expanse of a collective of higher skilled and productive workforces within the industry. Maintaining a motivated workforce that stimulates innovation, productivity and quality is at the heart of this process.

 

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The Unspoken Imbalance -Male prejudice in the events industry

The wedding planning sector is booming. Contributing upwards of £10 billion a year to the economy; the industry is screaming out for new professionals full of creativity and innovation. Although growing as a highly professionalized and modern market, traditional values and stereotypes of the role of workers in this industry is still having a big influence on professionals within wedding planning.

 

It is common perception that the big event is highly refined to the specifics of the bride’s request greatly influencing the culture around weddings. The very ‘feminine’ aspects to the celebration have strong character association to the bride and the female stereotype. However, with the emergence of the metrosexual man culture within modern society, it is becoming increasingly popular for a greater groom influence into the big day.

 

Although, when it comes to hiring wedding planners there is still an overwhelming gender division in the numbers of male and female professionals. Only 2% (US) wedding professionals are men although other industry roles are being highly populated with men such as florists and caterers. Even with increasing metrosexual behavioral adoption by the ‘modern man’ and male input into these events, stereotyping of roles is still strife within the industry.

 

The feminine image and concept is often not affiliated with the male persona and so the wedding planner role is met with the assumption of less masculinity discouraging men from taking it up as a career. Unfortunately for men, there is a very strong illusion of “wedding planners are a bit like fairy god mothers ” which is a term that few men would positively label themselves. Because of this view it is also common for brides – as being the most influential partner in the decision making process – prefer the idea of working with other women as there is more value associated with this. Negative stereotyping in this form is greatly affecting the gender imbalance seen in this sector. However, as new generations emerge into the work force, new values and opinions that are nurtured are key in breaking the stigma and educating on new perceptions of male behavior.

 

Working within a busy event venue, I have often had the pleasure of being involved in the organisation and execution of various events including wedding planning. When talking and listening to clients there is a clear observation of the female dominance of decision making and influence over wedding day details.

 

Personal experience has shown me that when working with clients, advice given over some of the more feminine things can be overlooked and perceived as insignificant in comparison to a female perspective as it is not a traditional issue for a male to have influence or interest in. As a man I have found it a greater challenge to have the guidance and directive accepted and retained by the client. This discouragement is a key contributor to new event managers specializing within this field. New views and opinions are essential for bringing more innovation and creativity into this market and as perceptions change; we aim for more men to adopt careers in wedding planning.

 

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This role requires someone that has a plethora of different characteristics, skills and abilities that can juggle a multitude of tasks. Along with the obvious need for great organisation, a wedding planner is also required to have a greater scope of emotional understanding as well as high creativity and design abilities. The traditional background of the male characteristics comprising of a strong business acumen and technicality in the planning process gives a indication of new methodology, theory and practice to this role and industry wide operations.

 

The metro sexuality culture developing through new generations supports evidence of the ‘new male’ now displaying more of the other required characteristics of a wedding planner. This combination really emphasizes the opportunity of male wedding planners to succeed within industry. Breaking down of gender associated barriers to entry with in industry perception will path the way for a new wave of driven wedding planners as well as other non-socially traditional roles.

Gen Y – An entitled generation of wants and needs

Gen Y are no strangers to getting what they want. This generation is a great difference from their predecessors showing a strong ethical and moral perspective on the world around them. A foundation based on an ethos of global consciousness as well as value association and awareness amongst networks is at the heart of what makes them tick.

 

Actively participating in a digital society with networks of individuals with similar interests and values is at the core of how these guys like to interact with one another. This web means that as event managers, we are to change traditional approaches to conference design in order to create an engaged environment for these new professionals. Although connection promotes collective grouping of those with similar interests, personalization is key for ensuring Gen Y’ers truly engage with the event experience.

 

Tailor made services for Gen Y conference attendees are a great way to promote engagement through greater depth of experiential aspects including co creation aid to events. Allowing attendees to have a direct input towards the organisation or delivery processes creates a deeper connection and tangibility to the value of an event. Appealing to the ‘me-centric’ characteristics displayed in many Gen Yers; conference managers are able to really engage with the attendees and encourage greater participation.

 

Ensuring that the event caters to the needs of being ‘special and involved’ there is creation of personal association. Establishing a basis for relationship management, the manager is be able to direct a more personalized experience to the attendee. As well as this the changing societal and psychological influences demands even more from a conference. The need for complete all round engagement and networking is essential. Digital dependence drives demand for new forms of virtual attendance and integration at events.

 

Examples of this are creating discussion forums for real time conference dialog and communication. Building conversion networks between attendees across a variety of platforms is essential for conference success. The conversation takes engagement to new levels and generating new platforms for tangible experience both before and after the event.

 

Communication and input sharing platforms has the ability to transform the way in which your attendees communicate and network with each other. Understanding the ways in which Gen Y behave allows for greater participation and retention of information. This generates conference loyalty as well as increased perception of value towards the event.

 

An environment where there is a constant hunt for the newest trend, conference organisers must be very aware of the marketplace around them. Ensuring that the conference reflects and incorporates the most up to date technology, communication styles and design are pivotal is ensuring attendance. Much of the millennial buying behavior is the value perception associated with a product or service. Developing demographically accurate targeted experience, buying behavior is likely to be reflect the increase of value perception. Personalization is KEY.

 

For a Gen Y driven audience the phrase ‘no expense spared’ should not be unfamiliar in your vocabulary. They want to see that what they’re engaging with and taking time out of their busy lifestyle for has value and benefit to them. Skimping on costs will reflect in the entire perception of the event.

 

This audience demands the best of the best and will not see a benefit if information is delivered by second rate speakers. Entertainment is a key factor in developing a psychological relationship with the attendee. Creating an environment where each aspect to the conference has an aspect of fun provides great incentive to engage and respond to conference content.

 

Making sure that all aspects of the conference are digitally integrated is only one level of integration required by the tech savvy attendees. Creating social networks online for both pre and post event participation will increase the lifecycle of modern conferences. Attendees want to be able to not only connect with fellow attendees prior to the event but also begin the conversation early.

 

This conversation will continue much further than the initial conference itself and has finished giving the opportunity to share/debate ideas and opinions formulated from the event. Increasing the scope of an event generates new avenues to communicate and connect with the attendee. This builds a relationship on a personalized level with each individual ensuring that the conference makes full accommodation for the wants and needs of the attendee.