80% of creative organisations are not hiring right now

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Being one of the world's largest creative communities, Creativepool is in a unique position to understand how the creative industry is struggling in self-isolation for the Coronavirus lockdown.

We had the power to make a difference by asking about the impact of the lockdown on businesses, employees and freelancers across our community. We created two surveys and launched them last month – one for full-time employees and freelancers, one for agencies, marketers and business leaders. Both included a section for unemployed creatives.

This is one of a series of articles which will look to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the creative industries. This article will examine the effects of the lockdown on the job market, including what the coronavirus lockdown will mean for creatives in the mid-to-long term.


Around 80% of the creative industry is not hiring new talent at the moment. The pandemic has put new hires on halt and job offers have been cancelled, as some of our respondents have stated.

We’ve asked the same question across all sectors of the creative industry, to both industry leaders [Graph 1] and full-time creatives [Graph 2]. There was little uncertainty in the replies: the Coronavirus outbreak is causing serious consequences to the job marketin the creative industries.

And even when going up in company size, the majority of mid-to-large organisations (>50 employees) is still in a similar spot, with 67.1% not looking to hire new talent in the short term [Graph 3].

8 in 10 business leaders have stated that they are not currently hiring for new talent


Graph 1

Little over 70% of full-time creatives are certain their company is not currently hiring


Graph 2

Some larger organisations are still hiring, but 67.1% are not


Graph 3

When looking to understand the causes, several may be the reasons behind such firm decisions. Most noticeably, the fact that most businesses have been heavily affected by the lockdown: productivity has gone down, and the vast majority is experiencing a major shortage in the number of clients and projects [Graph 4]. Budget plans have been affected as well [Graph 5], to the point that 3 in 4 small businesses may be forced to close by September, as we have identified in another section of this report.

The already delicate balance of the creative industries has been put in further danger by the pandemic and the lockdown, causing difficulties and all-new challenges to creatives the world over.

Over three-quarters of the industry are experiencing at least a moderate shortage of clients


Graph 4

Only a minimal percentage of businesses has not experienced changes to its budget plans


Graph 5

Here are some comments from our respondents:

Feeling very fortunate not to have more employees. We streamlined our business a few years ago and in October we left our rented premises to set up from our home. Cutting back on so many outgoings has set us in better stead now the economy is suffering so much. We know we can not rely on the Government for help. We are a Limited Company but there are only three of us.

Agency Director, Branding Agency, United Kingdom

There is a lot of short term and long term problems caused by coronavirus, but in this very moment the main issue is productivity while working from home. In regular circumstances work from home could be a relaxing experience, probably with no significant loss of productivity, and in some cases with improved productivity overall. But in this situation, with reduced working hours of grocery stores and other shops, lockdown from 5 pm to 5 am next day, and especially lockdown of schools and kindergartens, there is a significant reduction of productivity for most of us.

Creative Director, Integrated Marketing Agency, Serbia

Job Losses

This scenario obviously does not help creatives who have already lost their job due to the pandemic. Between those who have been made redundant and those who have seen their job offers receded, nearly 50% of the unemployed respondents believe the coronavirus has made them lose their job [Graph 6].

45.3% of unemployed creatives believe they have lost their job due to the outbreak


Graph 6

The picture looks even worse for freelancers. Over 4 in 10 surveyed organisations have stated that their freelancers have all been let go in light of the pandemic [Graph 7], allegedly to make up for additional costs and lack of clients and projects.

These findings are in line with other responses from freelancers in our community, demonstrating that they have certainly been hit the hardest by the global lockdown: over half of the freelance respondents have stated they won’t be able to survive more than 3 months in lockdown and with less work.

Despite efforts from world governments (including the UK) to ensure that all business sectors come out of the pandemic still on their feet, there is only so much that can be done to delay the inevitable for struggling creatives, especially if the lockdown protracts for too long.

42.7% of organisations have fired all their freelancers


Graph 7

These numbers are likely to go up. At the time when we carried out the survey last month, only about 12% of organisations had furloughed some or most of their staff[Graph 8], but we have been reached by more creatives in the meantime telling us that their organisation is taking active steps to seek government funding, at least in the UK.

It is likely that businesses and organisations were just waiting to assess the situation and see how it would unfold, in an attempt to delay furloughing stuff for as long as possible. As lockdown measures get either eased or extended around the world, we are likely to see a change of trend in the next few weeks.

Only 12.9% of organisations had furloughed some of their staff last month


Graph 8

Here are some more comments from our respondents:

"Goodness, I just got off of a call with my mom, in tears. Just a few hours ago received a rejection letter about a pending job offer. I had delayed putting my home on the market, waiting around for the interview process for this last career opportunity.

“I moved to a city for a job that was eliminated and have no family or friends network, it's been brutal and I also had major surgery. So I've been working through an already tough situation. I don't have health coverage and am terrified to leave my house for fear of getting sick."

Unemployed Creative, United States

I don’t know when everything will be fine and everyone can breathe a fresh air without any worries, no social distances will remain in our mind and we would be able to behave like we used to do in a very recent past . I was trying to get a job but everything stranded because of Covid 19.

Unemployed Architect, Canada

Mental Health

Financial stability is fundamental to remain sane and cultivate good mental health, and it’s easy to imagine that most creatives are struggling with higher levels of stress right now

Our survey has validated that assumption as well, showing that over 70% of creatives are ‘moderately’ to ‘very worried’ about their job right now [Graph 9]. This has led to an increase in levels of stress across all sectors of the creative industry, with 86.9% of respondents stating their levels of stress are ‘moderately’ to ‘considerably’ higher than before [Graph 10].

7 in 10 creatives are at least moderately worried about their job right now


Graph 9

Almost 90% of creatives are experiencing much higher levels of stress than before


Graph 10

In the current state of things, it is hard to say when the creative industry will bounce back and revert to normal. But most creatives believe that it will be a new normal, with new challenges to overcome and more lessons to learn, which will eventually make our future stronger.

Here are some last comments from our respondents:

“Understanding that this is not a short-term situation is critical for businesses to react adequately to this new environment. Although we have taken a big hit like many others, we are very lucky to have been working with full digital integration for years now. If anything, we are working harder than ever. Plus, we save the commute.

“For how fragile we may be, we humans have demonstrated time and time again to be extremely resilient. Things may not be the same for a while but we will learn and we will adapt. This crisis is an opportunity to become better, to improve the way in which we do things and I have no doubt that we will come out stronger.

Chief Operating Officer, Design Agency, Spain

“I myself I'm a part of a group making a broadcast radio show and me being the producer. The company wants to keep only the hosts in the studio at the moment, so I'm working remotely from home. I thought I would have a hard time. What happened was that I somehow found myself being somehow more focused on things that really matter and piece by piece micromanaging less.

There's a great government at the moment in Finland at the moment and I find myself relying on them quite a lot. I trust they do the best possible but obviously things are not gonna be quite the same. 

I also want to believe this will bring up good things too in the end. Like they say: in the times of crisis, remember who you turned up to - obviously NHS' first but when in lockdown, the arts and artists, and also trying to get yourself something creative to do.”

Producer, Audio Production Agency, Finland

Creativepool's Coronavirus Survey Report

Here are some useful links to the rest of the report:

Header image: John Perlock.


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