Interim hiring: A perspective

Gaurav Chattur

All organisations are grappling to make sense of business realities, but work has not ceased. Many professionals will attest that the quantum of work in the pandemic era has actually increased. Those I have spoken to have stated increased coordination due to remote working, being understaffed due to hiring freeze, extra procedures for employee safety, increased need for employee engagement and increased need for short term planning & re-planning as some of the reasons. 

Businesses are trying to adapt and reorganize. The typical spheres of reorganizations span across: 

  1. Business processes – Tailor Go-to-market, Sales & Marketing, Operations & Supply Chain to suit the new paradigm
  2. Financial processes – Drive financial prudence across cash management, costs, account receivable, payables, and obtain greater visibility through systems for higher quality decisions
  3. Human Resources – Drive full scale HR transformation to adapt to new reality. For e.g. Define new roles & responsibility and identify skills needed to support the new business processes. Assess people within the team to gauge availability of these skills. OR re-align compensation & incentives to new business objectives.

While there is a general consensus within the organizational walls on what needs to be done there are implementations challenges that organizations are encountering, which include: 

  1. Transformation skills are unavailable or in short supply within the organization 
  2. Bandwidth of functional leaders (HR, Finance and Legal) is exhausted in wake of the increased workload due to the pandemic related exigencies 
  3. Headcount freeze means hiring for transformational roles is not an option 

Here is where Interim hiring can help organizations negotiate this difficult bend. Interim hiring typically involves getting on board senior professionals with very specific skill sets, usually functional expertise but can extend to business roles as well. Here are some situations where Interim hiring comes handy: 

  • A specific expertise is required for a defined duration like a HR / Finance Transformation project, an IT implementation, a Product development, a site development, etc. 
  • There is a lag between the incumbent departing and the eventual hire coming on board
  • When the future of a project is uncertain required expectation and contract to be tempered for a defined duration
  • When one is unsure of the skill set required for a certain role, and need to “experiment” without seeming to hire and fire
  • When there is a hiring freeze and a person is required to come on a contract till such time that headcount can be added 

In fact, in May 2020, McKinsey & Co. surveyed more than 190 chief officers and functional leaders across industries to find out how they were thinking about spending allocation in the months ahead. Of those leaders, 67 percent say they anticipate spending less on permanent hiring in the next 12 months.

Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/hr-says-talent-is-crucial-for-performance-and-the-pandemic-proves-it?cid=eml-app

We, at Catenon, have been helping clients across industries to hire for their “Interim” needs for several years. Demand supply equations in the job market due to the pandemic and business compulsions have resulted in increased traction for “Interim hiring”. The potential hires are also comfortable signing up for this because it helps them tide over an uncertain and low prospect period, plus adds to their repertoire of experience some interesting projects typically transformational. The hiring process for “Interims” is usually shorter and straitjacketed to functional needs, as the perceived risk of a wrong hire for the organization is lower. All in all, Interim hiring is a win-win formula if not permanently, at least for the “interim”.

Authored by Gaurav Chattur | Managing Director Asia Pacific | Catenon | Linkedin Profile

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