Hiring in the Membership Sector Impacted by High Inflation Rates


2022 wasn’t without its global challenges, including COVID repercussions and the war in Ukraine, which triggered accelerated energy prices and supply chain delays, resulting in the cost-of-living crisis and an increase in the annual inflation rate. In this blog, we discuss the impact of inflation rates on membership hiring, the trends we’re seeing for 2023, what you can do to ensure the best hires this year and how we can help you secure the strongest talent for organisational success.

What is happening to inflation?

Inflation describes price increases over time, and though UK inflation was at its highest in 41 years in the year to October 2022, it fell to 10.1% in January this year.  Yet, despite this slight fall, inflation is still high and has continued to soar for housing and utilities.

The impact on hiring

Even though we may be close to a recession, there is mixed news for the labour market. Reuters reported that in the last quarter of 2022, basic pay in Britain grew quickly, employment increased, and unemployment remained close to a five-decade low.

However, such pay increases have less impact with high inflation, and vacancies fell again in the last three months of 2022. And many British firms reduced hiring as they suffered from the UK’s cost-of-living crisis. In fact, hiring in the UK has fallen to its lowest since December 2021.

What does this mean for membership hiring?

The skills gap continues and hiring managers may search to recruit talent from overseas to plug talent gaps. Brexit and the Great Resignation have contributed to less available talent and an ongoing lack of resources. Plus, the trend of hybrid working continues and not all businesses will embrace this, which may make membership hiring matches more difficult.

Last year there were over 3,000 membership-dedicated organisations, which we predict will grow in 2023. Many of our clients experienced growth in last year and we believe overall recruitment opportunities will continue to increase.

To add to this, many membership roles are complex. It’s a specialised sector, and exact skill sets or background matches don’t come easy. Organisations must, therefore, be open to looking to other industries to source candidates with transferrable skills.

You may also find that if you advertise a role, you receive more applications than usual, and while high volume can be promising, it may also mean low quality and a lot of work for you to trawl through applications. This is when a specialist recruitment agency can help you quickly source, review and shortlist candidates and act to attract the best talent.

What have we seen?

During 2022 most of our clients saw an increase in membership numbers at a rate of 2.5% to 5% and we expect this growth to continue this year. With this growth comes the need for specific membership skill sets, and we predict high demand for skilled IT, Marketing, Policy, Communications, Finance and Membership Development professionals throughout 2023.

Last year we saw the following make up our 15,000+ UK-based talent community at Membership Bespoke:

63% of our community came from other membership-based organisations, 19% from the private sector, 8% from SMEs, 7% were recent graduates and 3% from education.

What can you do to find the right talent?

There are several ways you can amend your organisational mindset to attract excellent membership candidates, whether they’re permanent or temporary:

Review your recruitment process – now is the time to review how you hire, the process you follow and the sources you use for talent selection. For example, can you streamline your processes to speed up hiring and encourage a consistent approach across the organisation? Or can you outsource recruitment and let specialist recruiters do the sourcing for you?

Be open-minded about hiring status – although you may be convinced you need a permanent addition to your team, have you considered filling the gaps while you search? We offer temporary, interim and contract placements to quickly fill needs and hit the ground running. During economic uncertainties, we have a pool of trusted candidates ready to go.

Last year, 54% of our placements were permanent, 26% were temporary and 20% were interim or fixed-term contracts.

Consider what you offer – flexible working hasn’t always been the norm for many membership roles, yet many individuals still seek flexibility. We discovered that 95% of membership organisations now offer hybrid working, and 73% offer flexible working.

Therefore, when you begin to consider the role you need to fill, can you offer some flexibility around location or hours to stand out to potential hires? Or go one step further and consider job shares, 4-day weeks or 9-day fortnights. These are great ways to attract candidates at all levels and also reduce full-time costs.

Use a specialist partner like us! We can help you to find recruitment solutions and discuss potential vacancies and candidates to save you time and effort. We have over ten years of experience in membership recruitment, and all our consultants know the market, the challenges and the opportunities. You can chat with us to understand options and boost your growth and success.

How can we help you with talent needs?

We believe in working as a partnership and that means although you can make some proactive changes to increase your chances of securing the best talent, by working in collaboration with us, we can help you perfect your membership hiring.

Providing temporary, interim and contract placements – as budgets tighten and organisations face potential headcount restrictions, the membership sector may experience a surge in temporary, contract and interim workers to reduce risk. By using temporary staff, you are able to fill skill gaps when and if they arise without the need to recruit permanent staff who you don’t know if you need long-term.

And temps don’t always have the best reputation, as they’re often perceived as unreliable ‘no shows’ or too time-consuming to bring up to speed. That’s why we approach temporary placements differently and with a well-planned and executed strategy.

We’re exploring ways to ensure the delivery of temporary talent is seamless for clients like you. With all our temporary placements, we aim for multi-touchpoint communication, including regular candidate check-ins combined with considering SMS messaging for future coms. We are not going to put someone forward to you who we have not spoken to or don’t believe we can rely on to fit your role and culture.

To highlight the variety and type of placements we can offer, we placed the following temporary staff recently:

  • Membership Renewals Executive for 3 months in a Healthcare Membership Body. They supported the annual renewal period of 15,000 members, ensuring card details were correct and fielded membership enquiry calls.
  • Management Accountant for 4 months in a Professional Body Financial Services. The individual helped support financial information by reconciling income and debtor figures and acting as credit control for student registration and exam fees.

In-depth and up-to-date membership knowledge – all our consultants are not only experienced in the membership sector, but they are passionate about it!

Asking for feedback – we ask clients for feedback on our services, placements and the process for sourcing and placing talent. This way, we can learn what we’re doing well, where improvements could be made and how we can make the service even better. We do the same with our candidates.

Giving you specialist information – we go beyond offering you amazing candidates, we can also discuss with you key membership-focused recruitment trends and insights into salaries and benefits. Our 2023 Membership Sector Salary Guide will assist you with creating effective salary strategies for the upcoming year and contains data related to all roles in Trade Associations, Professional Organisations, and Regulatory Authorities.

Go here to request your copy.

Why choose us?

We’re the only membership specialist recruitment organisation in the UK tailored to the needs of trade associations, professional bodies, regulatory bodies and political parties.

Our database of tried and trusted candidates have all been assessed and approved by us, so they are ready to enter your team and make an impact. 

This year we’re focused on improving the services we offer to you whether you’re looking to fill skill gaps or make a personal career move. It’s really important that we build relationships with both clients and candidates in order to make the right matches and act with speed in the recruitment process. We’ll be investing in the following initiatives:

Candidate management programmes in-person, via social media and technology enable us to build and develop new and existing relationships.

As high inflation continues and recession threatens, it doesn’t mean that membership hiring is hopeless or impossible. It might be difficult to find talent, but by looking at alternative sectors for talent, using a specialist recruiter and being flexible in your approach to work patterns you will be able to fill gaps and allow business to thrive even in busy times.

If you would like to confidentially discuss a career move or options, please contact us for a chat. Alternatively, if you have temporary or permanent hiring needs now or in the future, let us know and we’ll help you to find the best membership talent.