As the COVID health crisis has receded, we’re seeing with clarity the permanent effects the pandemic left on the workforce and business landscape. Although many workers and employers suffered during this time, people and businesses are resilient, and over time good and lasting developments have emerged from the disruption.

Particularly we have seen an enormous stream of interim & contract workers who latched on to new ways of generating income. Today, these independent executives and professionals are helping employers take talent acquisition to a new level.

Interim & contract workers: who are they?

  • Talented, experienced and highly skilled: These workers are available on demand to step in and manage projects and initiatives of all types and sizes, including executive leadership roles.
  • Numbering in the millions: Interim & contract workers are permeating every industry & functionality today.
  • Bringing back key talent & stability that companies lost during the pandemic: These essentials are needed right now for organizations to compete, grow and scale.

It’s not news that the conventional hiring landscape remains a candidate’s market, a lingering pain point for hiring companies. Interim has become a core solution in today’s climate, where there is an immediate and ever-increasing need for quality talent.

The trend of hiring interim executives and contract workers is here to stay, and this approach to talent acquisition is attractive to employers and interim talent alike.

How we got here: why interim talent matters going forward

Most of us, save for essential workers, can easily recall what life was like when the pandemic struck, when working remotely was both possible and necessary.

The pandemic created a pivotal window of time when traditional employment norms began to shake, rattle, and roll…away. Two things happened that forever altered the talent landscape:

1. People found freedom, flexibility, and improved quality of life in working from home: Lifestyle transformation was so powerful that a revolution erupted against returning to the office, and many no longer wished to be tethered to any type of traditional full-time employment. Demand for a hybrid work model and The Great Resignation have hit every level of today’s companies, all the way up to the C-suite.

2. Generations of suddenly unemployed professionals found other sources of income: Many turned to self-employment, entrepreneurship and the gig economy. They found the same coveted brand of freedom, flexibility and quality of life as their work-from-home peers, but all on their own terms.

Both deviations from traditional employment were unprecedented in scope. They didn’t simply create cracks in the talent pipeline but rather deep fractures that resulted in a prolonged talent crisis.

It took a couple of years for the eroding talent landscape to level up into what we have today – one that is now flush with independent executives and contract professionals who are qualified and ready to help companies quickly fill talent gaps and meet productivity, financial and deadline-driven goals.

Interim executives: an in-demand leadership solution

Acting on the current business reality by hiring interim talent is a smart move for employers because every minute matters when there are key staffing needs, including and especially at the top.

“When CEOs change, the senior leadership team often turns over as well, creating new vacancies and additional hiring needs,” says Aram Lulla, COE Leader, Professional Search at Korn Ferry. “Remaining managers and departments are left to navigate the upheaval without a clear guide. When we break free from the constraints of ‘traditional’ executive hiring, we open our organizations to game-changing talent who can deliver immediate results.”

In Forbes, Lulla defined the value of interim executives today: “An interim executive is a seasoned leader who is hired for a three-to-18-month period to guide an organization through a specific challenge or advance a key initiative with defined activities and deliverables. Often, an interim executive joins a company during a time of transition, upheaval, or transformation. Their mission is to leverage their unique expertise and steer the proverbial ship through stormy waters, which certainly sounds a lot like 2022. It’s no surprise then that the number of interim executive positions continues to grow, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

This in-demand interim trend is occurring at every level of today’s organizations, providing companies with a fast and efficient solution to the talent shortage.

Interim Executives & Professionals

Adapt and accelerate with interim talent

4 benefits of hiring contract workers

Companies that are bringing creativity to their hiring strategy are immediately feeling the benefits of placing contract workers in critical roles, joining resilient businesses everywhere & using proven strategies to onboard the right talent at the right time. Here are some of the benefits companies have been finding when hiring interim and contract workers.

  • Interim executives and contract workers are easier on overhead: Contract workers can be engaged for short- or long-term stints, with compensation based on the nature and length of an assignment. Since compensation does not involve a full-time salary, benefits, insurance, real estate, or perks, your overhead expenditures may be far less than what you invest in permanent staff. Companies are using these cost savings strategically by contracting with interim talent of a higher caliber than the employees they temporarily replace.
  • Many independent professionals consider contract-to-hire jobs: The hiring process can be a lengthy undertaking, and a risky one, too. Working with professionals on an interim basis gives you the opportunity to ensure they’re the right cultural fit for your organization and have the demonstrated performance and leadership skills you need – before you invest in a permanent hire.
  • You can fill talent gaps in days - not weeks, months, or years: One of the most challenging parts of running a business is dealing with unexpected resignations and other reasons key employees leave. Often, there is no one to pick up the slack until the position is filled, at least not without leaving gaps or strains in other areas of the operation. Overloading and stressing out teams when someone leaves isn’t ideal and takes away precious time companies don’t have to spare. Every minute matters, and interim contractors with the right skills can tide you and your team over until you have sufficient time to fill vacant positions.
  • Interim & contract workers keep things running smoothly during seasonal or other spikes in business: Many companies can anticipate when their workloads are likely to increase and decrease. At peak times, the increase can be dramatic, but it is not economical to maintain year-round, permanent staff based on times of peak performance. At the same time, especially with a fickle post-pandemic workforce, it is not advisable to expect permanent staff to manage big fluctuations without some help. Contract workers are the strategic solution for managing spikes, avoiding employee burnout, and increasing talent retention rates.

These benefits are proven strategies that are helping organizations maintain solid business continuity, control costs and boost revenue in turbulent times.

Level up your talent strategy today – and be prepared for tomorrow

At Korn Ferry, we believe the flipside to disruption is reinvention. Getting through the pandemic was about survival, but now, it’s time to get intentional in finding creative solutions to filling talent gaps. Tapping into the interim talent pool is a winning solution.

When you need accomplished professionals who can fit right in and get the job done, without investing your time and resources in the traditional recruitment process, Korn Ferry can help. Contact us and get on the fast track to interim executives and professionals who can help you succeed in today’s volatile business environment.

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