Where would events be without the staff working tirelessly behind the scenes and front of house to make them a success? Liz Turner, owner of The Event and Exhibition Partnership (EEP), Sarah-Jane Benham, managing director of Kru Live and Jennifer Schuring, head of marketing at Rota, took time out of their busy summer schedules to sit down with EN and talk about some of the important topics at the heart of staffing.
EEP is a dedicated events team providing staff to all types of events and exhibitions, conferences and festivals. Kru Live is an event staffing specialist and Rota provides a network of hospitality venues and quality staff connected through a web and mobile app.
Everyone agrees that the staffing sector has changed over the years. Schuring believes the hospitality industry is a very interesting case in point for how the growing gig economy and the maturing millennial workforce have combined to create a completely new outlook on work and the workplace, which in turn directly impacts event staffing. “Over the last couple of years, the UK hospitality and events industry has become a fully- edged example of the ‘gig economy'”.
Schuring also points out that people are getting used to things being on-demand in all parts of their lives, so why should it stop at work? She explains: “The recently grown-up millennial workforce demonstrates very different attitudes towards the workplace compared to previous generations. Employers in this sector will have to rethink their approach to attracting and retaining quality staff, as the old ways or status quo won’t resonate with future talent.”
Benham concurs and points out the change has been quite drastic. “The staffing industry is in a different place to where it was 10-15 years ago and we know that we have played a major part in the development of the staffing business for the better. For too long staffing has been an afterthought. After years of flying the flag along with other reputable agencies, staffing is now being given the level of important it deserves.”
Adding a global perspective, Turner turns to the coming of Brexit and the confusion about immigration for our European neighbours makes the future uncertain as a lot of the staff is from the European Union.
“There are some great people out there and our aim once we have recruited them is to keep them, make them value their job and enjoy coming to work each day. It’s all about welfare; supporting the team and getting the most of them, so it is a two way street,” she says.
Piece of advice
Benham, Turner and Schuring shed lights on the things organisers should know about this sector. For Benham it’s the quality control that goes on behind the scenes. “There’s an art to staffing and it’s a discipline that is constantly evolving. It is never about booking whoever is available on a first come basis.”
The selection process is another aspect that Turner points out. “That the staff is trained, recruited and picked to be the Ambassador for their show. We do lots of in-house training, development and briefings for the team in general and then specific for each event. Our staff work for us, we are not an agency so do know our teams and can hand pick them for their event,” she explained.
“How much easier we could make their lives by handing them the tech to completely revolutionise the way they book their temp staff,” Schuring says. “If someone cancels on you last minute or suddenly falls ill, or if you are busier that you thought then they usually have to spend hours on the phone, frantically trying to get a hold of other casuals in their pool, or agencies, who then start ringing around, usually with little success. With Rota, you can post any last-minute shifts or bookings onto the app, which literally takes less than a couple of minutes, and leave the rest to our algorithm. People love it because it makes their lives easier, and don’t want to go back,” she explains.
Editor’s note: This is a web version of the Sector Focus feature published in the August issue of EN.