What Is HR Interim and Why Should It Matter to Your Business?

Written by EO Executives on Oct 18, 2018

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What is HR interim and why should it matter to your business?

Simply put, Interim HR (Human Resources) Management is the use of HR experts on a temporary/ short-term basis. HR Interim Managers are experts in their field and are typically hired by organisations to solve critical business challenges through their own limited companies.

However, the term Interim HR Manager / Consultant is not one that should be used to describe those individuals who look for interim HR opportunities as a temporary stopgap, whilst looking for their next permanent opportunity. They should instead be reserved for individuals who are true career interim's.

These individuals are committed to an interim career and they relish the challenge of different assignments and projects that it brings. Typically, having made a conscious career choice to operate in this way, these are often senior individuals who have spent time in the client’s seat. Giving them a deep understanding of the typical requirements and deliverables of a project.

Why would you hire an Interim HR Manager / Consultant?

Working alongside members of an organisation’s own teams, an Interim HR Manager / Consultant brings together subject matter expertise, business knowledge and an external perspective. 

Interim Managers are not a permanent solution but are a solution for achieving fast turnaround, rapid results and identifying a strategy to take a business forward. Clients tend to employ Interim HR Consultants 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 or the implementation of a specific HR system.
  • To fill highly specialist skill gaps within existing teams.
  • To cover vacancies for maternity, secondment or illness.
  • To cover a role where time constraints are paramount. Additionally, there may not be any suitable individuals internally for the position in question.
  • To solve problems such as disputes/crises.

What are the benefits for the client?

Interim HR Managers are generally senior professionals with significant experience and knowledge within either generalist HR or specific skill areas such as Reward, Change Management, Organisational Design or Employee Relations. Due to the nature of their Interim Careers, they will have broad industry experience and are able to bring fresh perspective and significant experience to each project. 

As they are unencumbered by any previous involvement with the company, Interim HR managers are able to be objective and concentrate wholeheartedly on the project they have been employed 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 HR Interim's can ‘hit the ground running’ and will have likely delivered a particular piece of work a number of times over within a variety of businesses.

Stakeholder management and strong emotional intelligence to navigate through the mind field of an organisation to successfully get strategies, plans and proposals signed off and implemented is key. 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 over qualified 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 on a regular basis. 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 hen pipped at the post by individuals with more relevant experience to a client’s requirements.

HR Interim - The Essential Skills

  • The ability to act independently, impartially and objectively
  • Results focused
  • A mature and consultative attitude
  • Over qualified 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 Director working at board level, interim is not used by individuals to build upon their experience. Instead it can provide the opportunity to gain a broader depth of industry experience and remain outside of corporate politics which is appealing to many.

More recently we have seen the Interim market evolve with the emergence of the gig economy and portfolio careers. Due what can be perceived as the uncertain nature of work, Interim Management can also support a flexible lifestyle which allows the individual to accommodate other commitments and for some, the opportunity to establish a work / life balance. This can only be an asset to the client as you hire an energised Interim with other experiences including Non-Executive Directorships (NED).

HR Interim Job Titles

  • Interim Group HR Director, Interim Chief HR Officer (CHRO), Interim HR Director
  • Interim Head of Resourcing, Interim Head of Talent Acquisition, Interim Talent Acquisition Partner
  • Interim Head of Reward, Head of Compensation & Benefits
  • Interim HR Business Partner (HR BP)
  • Interim Head of Learning & Development (L&D)
  • Interim Organisational Design Consultant
  • Interim Organisational Development Consultant
  • Employee Engagement
  • Diversity & Inclusion| 
    Interim Change Consultant
  • HR Work-stream Lead

For more information on our Human Resource Practice, please visit our website here

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