The Associates initially launched in June and now has 10 people participants. The agency is opening several more roles in the coming months, and Rolfe expects Associates to grow further into 2024 as client needs dictate.
While The Associates is an R/GA-only pilot program at the moment, Rolfe sees applications for parent Interpublic Group of Cos. and the industry at large in the future as client needs change.
“We don’t think this is something that should just be an R/GA thing,” she said. “We actually think this is an approach that the whole industry needs.”
Franctional is the new freelance
These fractional employment terms are just another way for a company to say freelancer, and might not be beneficial to employee or employer in the long term, according to Sasha Martens, president of industry recruiting firm Sasha the Mensch Inc.
“In the U.S., sometimes we lay people off and ultimately that’s a short-term decision that’s not beneficial for the company or the person because a lot of institutional knowledge gets lost having to rehire and retrain somebody else,” Martens said.
Martens cites Germany’s Kurzarbeit policy as a more beneficial tact to take. The policy, which Germany implemented during the 2008 financial crisis and the early stages of the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, is a social insurance program that has employers reduce their employees’ working hours instead of laying them off. The policy was one of the main reasons Germany was the only G7 economy to avoid a rise in joblessness in 2009.
Martens believes policies that favor fractional employees could “open the door” for having fewer full-time employees. “There does seem to be a driving interest to lower full-time headcount in most corporations to offer fewer benefits,” he said.