Currently in the film and TV industry, some HR functions – recruitment, onboarding, performance management – may be done in an informal way. This is particularly likely with smaller companies and freelance heads of department who might not have the support of an in-house HR team. A colleague you have worked with previously might call you for ‘a chat’ about a new production they are working on, and a few minutes later the role is yours. There may be no job description, no clear expectations and perhaps no other candidates were considered for the role.
If a reference was sought, that might have involved a quick call from the person hiring to another friend in the industry, or if they have worked with the person before, a reference might not be sought at all.
Those being hired may find it easier to settle into a new workplace if they have a more formal induction, and know a bit more about the team structure and how the Company works before being thrown in at the deep end. As with settling into any new space, people might wonder how they’re getting on, if they are doing a good job, and be keen to receive feedback, but this might not be forthcoming.
Why is it an issue?
A key reason that hiring has often worked in this way is the incredibly quick turnaround time from a project being greenlit by a commissioner to the production going into prep. Larger organisations are more likely to have formal procedures or guidelines in place. However, when we work for smaller companies, we’re not likely to have an HR team who can help us out – we need to do everything ourselves, on top of our own workload. So when time is short, this all adds to the pressure.
There may be little time to advertise, shortlist, interview and recruit in a more formal way. But hiring in this way can lead to a lack of diversity of candidates, or hiring the wrong person for the role which can lead to poor performance and low morale, possibly leading to workplace conflicts.
Add into the mix other recruitment issues, such as skills shortages, retention issues and fewer new entrants, and it's evident why coping with the industry boom in the UK has presented challenges. It puts further emphasis on recruitment practices, and making sure they are fit for purpose and getting the right people into the right roles.
The HR Toolkit
This toolkit has been curated in order to help production companies (particularly smaller ones without the support of an HR team) implement more formal recruitment processes. This will ensure that hiring in the industry becomes more fair, inclusive and compliant.
The guidance in this toolkit is designed to support best practice and make the implementation of these guidelines as easy as possible, helping to sustain continuing progression in improving working culture.
The toolkit takes you through three areas of the employee life cycle: recruitment, onboarding and offboarding. It also links to newly developed skills checklists that explain the responsibilities and skills needed in a wide range of different departments and roles. It has information on the importance of formalising recruitment practices, links to supporting materials, and downloadable templates.
If you are unsure of how to implement or adapt any of the toolkit to meet your organisation’s needs, or how any of the compliance requirements work in practice, please seek advice from a third-party HR professional.
To make sure your company is legally compliant in terms of contracts, policies, and procedures, take a look at the HR 1-2-1 sessions here.
This toolkit from Screenskills has been created in consultation with Lisa Balderson (Assoc. CIPD), freelance HR consultant (film and TV specialist).