Membership organisations’ workforce: the changing pattern #memcom2014

Anthony Haynes writes: Attending MemCom2014, I was keen to test our vision — as a talent acquisition company that focuses on membership organisations and allied sectors — of the labour market against how organisations themselves saw things. I’m glad to say the experience was largely confirmatory! The main points to emerge — drawing both on what speakers from the platform said and from conversations in the networking sessions — were as follows:

1. Membership organizations represent a genuine sector. By this we mean that it has a distinct culture, evidenced to some extent by a tendency of employees to move from one membership organisations to  another.

2. That said, the sector has become more porous, attracting — and increasingly seeking — talent from beyond the sector. It is noticeable how the mood music has changed here, as seen in a change in the dominant tenses in which people speak about recruiting from the outside. Time was when recruiters said, ‘We plan to recruit more from outside’ or ‘We’d like to…’; then, ‘We are…but the change is very gradual; to (now increasingly common), ‘we are…and have been for some time’.

3. The number of roles with ‘Sales’ in the title is increasing — a point obviously related to the previous one, since appointees to sales roles often come from commercial backgrounds.

4. But also there is a recognition that ‘sales’ is not exclusively the responsibility of designated staff. As one (excellent) speaker — Jon Kudlick from the Society of Biology — put it, ‘Most staff engage with the membership in some way and growing membership is a responsibility of all’.

5. The corollary of (4) is there is a staff development priority: organisations need to ensure that existing staff, including long-standing employees, possess or acquire the requisite networking skills, awareness of opportunities, and willingness to share information with teams.

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