Director, Business Development
5 Myths About Interim Work and the Gig Economy
Go beyond popular myths to get a clearer understanding of the gig economy and interim work.
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5 Myths About Interim Work and the Gig Economy
Gig economy jobs have become an established part of our talent market. But the term is often misunderstood, especially when it comes to interim professional work.
“Interim work is, by definition, part of the gig economy,” explains John Bankhurst, interim consultant for Korn Ferry.
Interim work is a type of contingent or contract work: short-term, seasonal, non-permanent role. But it’s not as casual as the word ‘gig’ implies. There are executives and management-level professionals who exclusively work on an interim basis.
“There are technically skilled people who view interim work as a way to explore new industries and organizations,” Bankhurst adds. “There are professionals who prefer interim roles to perm roles, as they are able to have better work-life balance.”
In 2023, the global interim workforce was estimated at 78 million people, which is projected to continue to rise. But behind these numbers are opportunities and options that are vast and varied, going way beyond a “gig.”
Here are 5 myths about the growing interim talent economy and what it might mean for you.
FACT: Gig and interim work are rewarding career choices for experienced professionals.
The interim talent community is vast and varied. From Baby Boomers and Gen X workers looking to add value with more flexibility than a full-time role to Millennials and Gen Z hoping to advance their portfolio of skills, the interim talent community come from every level of education, experience, and industry.
Interim work is more than a side hustle. It’s increasingly a career choice. Many of our interim talent community say their pay and benefits through working with Korn Ferry exceed their compensation from previous permanent roles.
FACT: Interim work is often a top choice for top talent.
Many interim professionals are at the very top end of the talent pool. With such sought-after skills, organizations want the pros’ help however they can get it. For these top experts, interim work brings a variety of interesting and fulfilling opportunities they can't get from a single corporate role. Additionally, each interim project adds new knowledge and systems to their background—increasing their value with each new experience. This leads to higher career satisfaction (and it’s a win for their clients, too).
At Korn Ferry: From former c-suite execs to experts in all industries and functions, our interim talent community is made up of in-demand professionals with skills that are requested again and again.
FACT: People of all ages (including senior professionals) choose interim work for the flexibility.
There’s a wide range of talent choosing to “gig”—from college students to retired executives who want to keep adding value to the workforce. That’s because gig economy work is about choice and flexibility and every generation wants that, not just millennials and Gen Z. Gig workers have the freedom to choose the type of activities they prefer to do; and when, where, how much, and with whom they want to work.
At Korn Ferry: Many of our interim professionals left corporate jobs because they wanted flexibility—whether it’s to spend time with their families, travel the world, or simply choose the kind of work they do.
FACT: Interim work offers a new kind of career stability.
In our modern economy, no company or career is 100% safe. Companies can restructure or reduce jobs at any time. And with offshoring and outsourcing, companies are increasingly reliant on running their business with fewer full-time employees. Being an interim professional can be a high-growth opportunity for skilled workers—making them more valuable to (permanent or contingent) employers.
At Korn Ferry: There are many in our interim talent community who find the change from permanent to gig very refreshing. Bankhurst cites a top accounting professional who came to interim work after a long time in a permanent role.
“He didn’t feel appreciated for the many hours he was working,” Bankhurst says. “After starting his first interim project, he decided he couldn’t go back to a traditional corporate role. Ten years later, he’s been gigging steadily—still loving his interim work and working significantly fewer hours than he ever did in the corporate world.”
FACT: Benefits for gig workers are on the rise.
In 2019, California passed a law that required contract workers to get benefits comparable to employees. Other similar laws are being proposed in many other states. And interim professionals that work with firms already get benefits similar to full-time roles in addition to all the perks of gig work.
At Korn Ferry: Our interim talent is eligible for benefits like medical and dental insurance and paid time off. Then, there are the added benefits—like the ability to take summers off.
“Another one of our interim finance professionals took a whole year off to take care of his newborn daughter,” Bankhurst reports. “He was able to experience so many important first moments with his child that he now takes every summer off to spend time with family. With interim work as an option, he’s able to be flexible and jump back into new projects and roles, on his terms.”
With over 90% of companies moving to a blend of permanent and supplemental talent, interim work continues to be a viable option for many in the modern workforce.