Welcome to The Agency Brief — a regular briefing on the main things going on in the world that agency leaders should know about.

We analyse a wide range of sources and distill it into a summary you can use in your strategic planning.

Here's your briefing.

In the US, the EU and the UK, Covid job support schemes are coming to an end, and with it, two important issues are surfacing:

  1. Labour shortage pressures and the dynamics of the workforce;
  2. Business resilience after the pandemic support ends.

Labour shortage pressures

There's a number of apparently contradictory threads in matters related to the workforce.

Businesses in, North America, in Europe and the UK are consistently reporting a lack of staff. It's particularly so in lower-paid sectors, but it's a phenomenon across the board, it seems — plenty of vacancies but no one to fill them. Wage offers, benefits and other incentives are expanding to attract applicants, but companies across the board are struggling to fill positions.

At the same time, there's widespread accounts of an escalation of quits and resignations, so large that it's been given a name — the Great Resignation (see our earlier blog on the Great Resignation and what it means for agencies) or the Big Quit.

So, theoretically, there's a large pool of workers and plenty of jobs for them to fill, but it's not happening. There's a logjam in the system, and it's threatening economies across the advanced economies, putting things like President Biden's infrastructure plan at risk.

So what's going on?

Firstly, job mobility isn't simple — a furloughed worker from the hospitality sector is unlikely to have much success applying for a role in a design agency. Skills and training take time to acquire.