From Business to Cultural Institutions? - NAJINTERNATIONAL Executive Search | Recruitments | HR Advisory

From Business to Cultural Institutions?

From Business to Cultural Institutions?

From Business to Cultural Institutions? Is the migration of candidates between the commercial sector and arts and culture institutions possible? 

The Polish arts and culture scene is currently undergoing an intense process of change, facing new new challenges in almost every area of its activities. At the same time, it opens up fascinating possibilities in various fields such as digitization, hybrid culture and artificial intelligence. Over the past few years, while conducting recruitment processes for this market segment (Museums, Foundations), I had the opportunity to listen to the diversity of experiences, attitudes and opinions of people associated with this environment.

From my experience, it appears that there is a growing interest in this sector, both from society and potential  employees, including those from the commercial industry. Therefore, recruiters are faced with the task of creatively  supporting this process for both employers and prospective employees.

One of the challenges in the world of NGOs is the issue of how to attract and retain new employees who would bring new quality and mutual benefits through collaboration? 

  1. Certainly, the key to success lies in utilizing a variety of recruitment tools and understanding mutual diversity
  2. As well as reaching out to candidates from the commercial industry, as perhaps an unconventional idea for acquiring new employees

However, will such a diverse relationship ( a candidate from Business and a Cultural Institution) have a chance for a successful marriage? 

It turns out that indeed it has a high chance of sussess, but it requires good preparation and mutual understanding of the needs of both parties. Therefore, dialogue with the client and building a trustworthy relationship with them are crucial to best understand their environment better and fulfilling their requirements more effectively. My role is to inform the client about the market’s realities and fully meet their needs. My task is to show the client the realities of the market but also to open up and propose new solutions. Building such a relationship brings benefits to everyone involved.

The attractiveness of Cultural and Art Institution goes beyond just their “mission”. They are places that offer creative freedom and community engagement. These places are becoming increasingly desirable for the modern candidate due to changing expectations regarding the meaning of work and its place in our lives.

From business to Cultural Institutions?

More and more consciously, we want to maintain a balance in our lives, where work becomes not only a duty, but also a space that respects our values, passions, and leisure time. We don’t want to be just cogs in a big machine, we want to feel that our private life extends beyond weekends and quick vacations. This trend is gaining stronger traction in our society, and I have the impression that nothing will stop these changes.

And here arises the question, how to bridge both worlds to attract and retain new employees while gaining new inspiring perspectives and fostering the development of the organization itself? Both of these worlds have their personalities, but there are various opinions and perceptions about them that may not always reflect reality.

The transition from the private sector to Cultural Institutions might seem like an intergalactic journey, accessible only to the bold or desperate. However, this does not mean that such a transfer cannot to be successful. The mutual attractiveness of these two worlds is intriguing enough to be worth trying; and the collision with realities can be softened through honest and fair recruitment discussions.

Culture and Art Institutions in Poland, often struggle with the opinion that:

  • they are politically conditioned, which affects their image as insecure workplaces
  • and lack of competent people within the organization.
  • added to this are low salaries, which are an additional barrier, making it difficult to attract high-class professionals.

These are the main ills of these organizations, which hinder development and innovation.

Fortunately, there are some on the Polish market that escape this trend. These organizations are already beginning to function in line with modern, international institutions, which, also supported by the State, are capable of making innovative decisions, while maintaining their mission and autonomy.

Institutions of Culture and Art in Poland often grapple with the perception that:

  • they are politically influenced, affecting their image as uncertain workplaces
  • a lack of competent of proactive individuals within the organization
  • an additional barrier is low salaries, making it challenging to attract high-caliber specialists

These are the main challenges for these organizations that hinder their development and innovation. Fortunately, there are starting to operate on a level comparable to modern, international institutions capable of making innovative decisions while preserving their mission and autonomy.

It seems to me that in the majority of the well-known Cultural and Art Institutions, there is a lack of?

  • A unified management strategy 
  • A consistent organizational culture 
  • Efficient leadership personnel

The lack of a coherent management strategy and a shortage of soft HR specialists generate organizations that are rigid, incapable of change, andthus unable to attract new potential experts from other industries.

What else could positively move the process of change forward?

  • Complex tenders, which may appear “unfriendly and biased” to individuals outside this sector, and the entire recruitment process burdened with many formalities and the required knowledge of public law from the outset
  • Recruitments often take place through contacts and recommendations from employees, which is not inherently problematic. However, often there is no overall  control or management of this process
  • There is a lack of a human resources department (soft HR) that will consciously build a cohesive organizational culture and provide support for the management. HR departments in such institutions mainly consist of specialists in Labor Law and Administration. However, all “soft” activities rely on the shoulders of department managers, who, to the best of their abilities, try to support theit team. However, they often do so intuitively and without proper preparation
  • Many times during conversations with institutional candidates, I have often observed frequent pressures from superiors or team members that approach the border of bullying. It is staggering, but paradoxically, this phenomenon seems to thrive in that environment. I believe that the migration of employees between these worlds could positively impact the decline of this shameful phenomenon.
  • Another difficulty is the fact that these organizations often operate within rigid structures, with employees “closed” to changes or unable to implement them. Quite often, these is chamging, yet they themselves still cling to established patterns. I’m not saying that everything is bad everywhere, but there is a lack of openness and dialogue on a larger scale

What else could positively impact initiating the process of change?

  • I believe that focusing on the growth of managerial competencies in this sector is crucial. I had the opportunity to participate in a personnel audit in one of such institutions, and I saw how receptive this group is to change, how the competencies of the management evolve, leading to increased awareness and belief in proactive power.
  • Another barierr encountered in Cultural and Art Institutions is the issue of low and non-competitive salaries, making it more challenging to attract experts from outside the sector. While salary is not always the sole determinant of hiring a good employee, it remains a significant limitation.
  • Undoubtedly, a positive aspect that should be emphasized as a strength of Cultural and Art Institutions is their openness to hiring mature candidates (Silvers). They adeptly bridge generations – something the commercial market should take note of.

And what does the commercial market say about such a transition in the opposite direction ( from Cultural Institution to Business)?

From my experiences, it appears that the commercial sector is unfortunately not as “welcoming” to individuals who have previously worked on the public isector side. It seems that this transition is less feasible. Typically, candidates enter these organizationall structures through and referrals from individuals they had the opportunity to collaborate with externally. There is a belief that employees from non-governmental institutions may struggle in a dynamic and competitive environment. On the other hand, for candidates from the private sector, public institutions seem very attractive. They see greater opportunities for realizing their ideas, pursuing values, and unlimited creativity compared to their current environment our role, as recruiters is crucial in honestly and fairly confronting candidates with their expectations and perception can result in unpleasant. 

Fortunately, there are already Cultural and Art Institutions that consciously manage human potential, build cohesive organization, and are open to development. These are institutions that are aware that, to survive and compete with European cultural giants, they should boldly define new rules of the game, create modern workplaces, and become a source of inspiration for the entire society and future employees. 

The key to their mutual relationship is open dialogue and understanding the needs of both sides. By combining a variety of recruitment tools, we can build a solid bridge that allows for the seamless migration of candidates. However, all of this requires honest conversation, mutual readiness for adaptation, and the construction of trustworthy relationships. This  kind of collaboration can bring mutual benefits, but as I mentioned earlier, it will require careful preparation and understanding of each other’s  specificities. This jont effort, towards attracting new talents, can bring a fresh perspective, innovations, and mutual advanteges. I believe that combining the competencies of these two entities is possible and highly valuable, where professional fulfillment and a sense of realizing one’s values and ambitions are entirely achievable. as real as possible.

Agata Kostrubiec Senior Project Manager

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