Lucy Bielby Market Insight
Why use an Interim HR Professional and what is the benefit to your business?
Simply put, interim HR is the use of HR experts on a temporary/short-term basis. However, the term interim HR in the truest sense relates to a group of individuals that are proven, experts in their field (Human Resources) and are typically engaged by organisations to solve critical business challenges. They bring niche skill sets, expertise and leadership capabilities required to drive forward change.
We do still see the word interim used by some who are considering short-term opportunities whilst looking for their next permanent role. However, the term interim is typically aligned to individuals that are committed to an interim career and have often made a conscious choice to operate their career in this way.
From our experience, we know that Interim HR professionals are often proven, have spent time in the client’s seat, giving them a deep understanding of the typical requirements and deliverables of a project. Many individuals who choose to consciously operate as an interim may have reached their permanent career goal or instead, want variety (organisations, projects, sectors) without getting involved in the politics of an organisation or the cyclical activities you see in HR for example.
Why hire an Interim HR Professional?
Often working alongside members of an organisation’s employees or other interims, an Interim HR Professional brings together subject matter expertise, business knowledge and an external perspective.
Interim Managers aren’t a long term hiring solution for an organisation but are a valuable resource for achieving a fast turnaround, rapid results and support in driving a business forward. Whether your organisation is undergoing a complete transformation or you only require a consultant on an ad-hoc basis. Interim HR consultants will take the lead on a range of critical projects where an internal resource isn’t available or sits outside the skill set of the existing team.
Clients tend to engage Interim HR Professionals to take ownership for the delivery of a specific temporary project or resolution of an issue, for example:
To design and deliver change initiatives around structures, mergers/acquisitions or redundancies.
To project manage a specific programme (transforming a business or function) or the implementation of an HR system.
To cover a role where time constraints are paramount. Additionally, there may not be any suitable individuals internally for the position in question and this may be a business-critical role.
To design and deliver processes that will make a business-critical impact.
To provide additional people support to an organisation at a time of change / where a different skill set is required.
The strengths of Interim HR Professionals
Interim HR Professionals are often senior individuals with significant experience and knowledge within either generalist HR or specific skill areas such as Reward, Talent Acquisition, Change Management, Organisational Design or Employee Relations. Due to the nature of their interim careers, they will have built up broad industry experience and can bring a fresh perspective and learnings to each project.
As they are unencumbered by any previous involvement with the company, Interim HR Managers can be objective and concentrate wholeheartedly on the project they have been engaged to complete.
Interim Managers tend to be self-starters and can integrate into the business quickly, therefore ensuring business continuity and minimising downtime. To coin an overly used phrase, good interim's can ‘hit the ground running’ and will have likely delivered a particular piece of work many times over within a variety of businesses. They are therefore experts.
Stakeholder management and strong emotional intelligence are needed to navigate through the minefield of an organisation to successfully get strategies, plans and proposals signed off and implemented. Therefore, hiring an interim at the start of a transformation programme with a combination of skills, experience, commercial acumen and strong track record will ensure the successful implementation of business change.
What are the benefits for the Interim?
Measured by their track record and previous achievements, Interim HR Professionals are often overqualified for the assignments they undertake, however, the benefits to the individual often outweigh what may be perceived as reduced seniority.
It is important to remember that whilst a career as an Interim Manager can be fast-paced, challenging and massively rewarding, it is not an easy path to follow. This is why you know that anybody following this route, is committed to it as a career choice.
Interim's need to be able to cope with financial uncertainty as there is no guarantee when the next contract may arise. Another point to note is that this is a highly competitive environment which commands huge self-discipline and the ability and confidence to pitch to clients for business regularly.
Individuals who are new to interim management can often find it challenging. Not just these practical downsides of interim work, but also the psychological consequences. It can be disheartening dealing with extended periods out of work and handling rejection when pipped at the post by other Interims on assignments.
HR Interim - The Essential Skills
The ability to act independently, impartially and objectively.
A consultative approach.
Overqualified for the role with an impressive track record within HR.
Flexibility: Interim Managers need to be able to adapt quickly to different working environments and cultures and have a flexible attitude to where, how and when they work.
When you hire an interim, you get experienced professionals who have already gained significant success in their field. With the seniority of HR interim's ranging from Mid to Executive level professionals, from HR Business Partners to HR Directors working at board level, interim assignments aren’t used by individuals to build upon their experience. Instead, it can provide the individuals with the opportunity to gain a broader depth of industry experience and remain outside of corporate politics which is appealing to many.
At Frazer Jones, we have seen the interim market evolve with the impact of IR35 Alongside the skills required by organisations change due to the impact of the global pandemic. However, having operated through the financial crisis previously, we know the impact that engaging an Interim can have on an organisations turnaround.
The interim roles that we typically source for include:
Interim HR leaders - Senior BP, Heads of HR, HR Directors, Chief People Officers.
Interim specialists - Organisational Design, TOM Design, Communications, Shared Services, HR Operations, Process Design, Leadership & Development, Talent Management, Workforce Planning, Learning & Development (E-Learning), Organisational Effectiveness, Recruitment and RPO Management, Employee Relations, Diversity & Inclusion, HR Regulatory roles such as IR35 Management, SMCR, GDPR etc…
People led transformation specialists - HR Transformation leads and Workstream leads within programmes.
Business transformation PMO lead – complete turn-around, M&A, cost reduction; global standardisation of process, ERP and system implementations; off-shoring, outsourcing and insourcing.
If you would be keen to discuss how an Interim HR Professional could support your business or to talk to one of our experienced interim team about your next assignment please visit our interim page or contact me directly.