The Collab specializes in blending and addressing the ever-expanding breadth of topics surrounding the future of work
by Gene Jeffers
“Today’s workplace is unrecognizable from the environment we knew before 2020,” says Jeff Ganter, co-founder and president of Eleventh Hour, a recruitment and staffing company specializing in location-based and themed entertainment needs. “Our future of work continues to be an ever-evolving concept, impacted by years of fluctuating benefits, accelerated technological advances, inflation upsurges and an unprecedented war for top talent.”
Location-based and themed entertainment companies were hard hit by the pandemic. Theme parks, museums and visitor centers worldwide indefinitely shut down, forcing industry employees to seek opportunities in an unstable and tumultuous market. Now, as industries ramp back up, restart and reopen at extraordinary speed, the demand for talent is generating simultaneous opportunity and challenges at all levels – from executives to creatives to project managers and beyond.
Themed entertainment and LBE “climate change”
“It’s happening. The world of work and workplace environments is in the midst of a massive ‘climate change’ of its own,” says Ganter. “Old approaches to employee satisfaction and retention grow less effective by the day. If companies and their leaders want to attract and retain top talent in this industry, if they want to succeed and survive, they need to take full advantage of what the new workspace and its employees are demanding.”
“Historic employment trends, such as the elimination of pensions and a profit-driven culture of corporate consolidations were already changing the talent marketplace,” says company co-founder Gianna Larsen. “As a result, employee loyalty has been weakening for decades. Add the increased use of technology and the stresses and changes forced by a pandemic and its need for virtual meetings. The result is what many are calling the Great Resignation. People have left jobs in search of something better, something more rewarding, something more engaging. And that’s where we come in.”
Enter The Collab Experience
Eleventh Hour has created a new division, The Collab Experience. A sourcing and consulting service for themed and LBE industries, The Collab matches specialized coaches from their roster to pave uncharted paths and drive innovative talent strategies.
“The loss of many experienced specialists to other industries during the pandemic combined with the current record low unemployment and the upsurge in experiential design projects post-pandemic have driven the demand for quality themed entertainment talent to an all-time high,” says Larsen. “Companies are having to fight harder to attract and retain the best people with the required skillsets.”
“Past approaches to finding and keeping talent are being driven out of the market,” Ganter adds. “Leaders at the top at large and small companies know they have to rethink, reorganize, ‘retool’ how they nurture people if they want to ensure sustainability and success.”
Beyond seeking increased compensation, skilled employees are looking for opportunities to make a bigger impact. According to Ganter, they are seeking a “greater influence in the business, more variety in the scope of their role, and ultimately personal investment that results in a sense of belonging.”
This is often at odds with the culture of smaller or more traditional companies, founded on one individual’s vision. To solve for and bridge this gap calls for deft coaching and tactful solutions. Additionally, over the past two years, many workers in the industry have adapted to and enjoyed working from home, bonding with family and avoiding the long commutes associated with pre-pandemic demands. Even within a themed entertainment industry accustomed to virtual teaming and working on-site at half-the-world-away locations, establishing a post-pandemic “normal” presents new challenges.
With their expertise in the industry, The Collab provides coaches to themed entertainment companies to innovate and lead the charge toward viewing human resources through the lens of humanity first.
Following the general shift to remote and virtual work during the pandemic, some companies are not planning to bring people back into physical offices at all. Some are looking to a full return to the office, while others are implementing hybrid approaches or shared, common workspaces. Each approach to ‘getting back to normal’ has its own advantages and disadvantages. Determining what is the right mix for each individual company will be key to success.
These new dynamics demand more not only from upper management, but also from mid-level managers. Shifting a company culture with the goal of increased retention and engagement will require continuous effort, trial and error, and evolving partnership between HR and management to ensure employees feel valued. Unwillingness to adapt will put leadership and its organization in jeopardy.
Central to their mission, Ganter and Larsen believe that companies can make the difference in attracting and retaining their employees by addressing talent as people first – engaging with their lives, dreams and ambitions is as critical for success as assessing their performance.
From traditional workplace themes like career transitions, executive leadership and performance; to less conventional topics related to health and wellness, The Collab/Eleventh Hour team prides itself on a foundation of supportive, responsive, wholistic and compassionate experience. The Collab merges Ganter’s Certified Professional Coach Expertise and Larsen’s Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for Trauma/Stress Management/ Anxiety skillset, combined with a curated roster of coaches, to offer wellness resources, think tank experiences, executive development, goal-based coaching, teambuilding retreats and more.
“There is an increased demand for life issues to take precedence,” says Larsen. “Companies need to ensure that employees feel that their company and/or boss cares about their personal well-being as much as their professional contributions.” Larsen adds that, for many, the work-life balance of the past has reversed and reset to a life-work balance of the future.
The Collab demonstrates a bold willingness to blur the lines between personal and professional. As an example, the think tank offering creates space for companies to openly discuss, brainstorm, develop and chart strategies to solve complex workplace concerns, like burnout and its negative impacts on turnover. The Collab coaches specialize in growing softer skills and tackling tougher topics around mental health, retention, satisfaction and engagement that bridge the gap from past separation of personal and professional life toward a future work-life blend.
The Collab and its advisory scope are founded on nearly two decades of experience in vetting, recruiting and sourcing talent for the experiential design and production industries. “Through our work at Eleventh Hour, we’ve watched workplace trends in this industry evolve, and we have developed strategies to support these changes with an intentional, individualized, relationship- based approach and a unique, problem-solving arsenal,” Ganter says. “Creating The Collab Experience and moving into the wholistic/wellness space was the next natural progression.”
“Half of the Fortune 500 companies of 2010 no longer exist and the same is true for hundreds of other companies that used to support the themed entertainment industry. They did not or could not seize the opportunities that were presented in the last decade,” says Ganter. “Meanwhile, hundreds of new, more flexible companies have entered the industry. Globally, we’ve had more change in the workplace during the past two years than in any previous period in modern history. Now – not tomorrow – is the time for companies to be innovators and leaders. Eleventh Hour and The Collab Experience are prepared to help executives and their HR staff identify and take advantage of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.”