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The rise of the interim

Posted on from Ortus

The continued economic uncertainty could prove lucrative for interim HR professionals as companies invest more in change initiatives, argues Nicholas Croucher.

Is HR recruitment on the upswing?

While HR staff were fundamental in helping businesses restructure during the nadir of the recession between late 2008 and early 2009, the HR industry certainly wasn’t immune to headcount reductions. Cuts were most prevalent at senior level, where the number of managerial or directorial roles fell by nearly 44,000 (28%) between Q2 2009 and Q2 2011 according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Many of those that did keep their jobs were given more responsibilities without extra pay. However, with what’s believed to be the worst of the recession behind us, data from the ONS now suggests more than 22,500 HR jobs have been created in the last year. Although this is encouraging, most organisations are still erring on the side of caution and investing more time in the decision-making process when hiring.

Demand for interim talent

Market visibility is still limited for most businesses during this recovery phase, so demand for interim and contract HR professionals has risen recently, particularly in the change management and organisational development space. While permanent HR opportunities have increased, companies are favouring more flexible hiring approaches to grow and implement change despite economic uncertainty. We’ve seen a 45% boom in interim vacancies in the last year. These can provide opportunities for senior HR professionals looking for good work-life balance coupled with excellent remuneration. 

Why become an interim?

We surveyed more than 120 interim HR professionals and found that change management is the driving force behind the increased demand for HR interims and contractors. Of the respondents, 71% stated it was the most common reason for businesses hiring interims. Asked why they preferred interim roles, 34% said they found them more challenging and interesting than permanent jobs, 32% felt they enjoyed better work-life balance and flexibility, and 10% said they can earn more money than in a permanent position. On average, it takes senior HR interims 150 days to earn the same gross salary as they would receive in the equivalent permanent role, while for interim HR directors it takes 130 days. However, interim roles are less secure and many offer fewer benefits. The key drivers for HR professionals of this calibre taking an interim role are the prospect of a better work-life balance and new challenges. 

Salary chart

Rise of the interim chart

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