Posted12 December 2016

As someone who has spent a considerable time appointing Senior Directors & Executives via Executive Search methodology and Interim Management assignments, I believe a new dawn is coming to how organisations hire.

The last half century has already seen massive changes to how & when people are employed/utilised, it has seen significant shifts in how the workplace operates and how & where companies deploy their staff. In addition, the evolution of the temporary, contract and Interim workforce has been phenomenal (comparatively speaking) - so for me, it is an obvious and natural evolution that is coming.

There are no more "jobs for life". Being with the same company for your entire career is a dwindling legacy from a bygone era - just as commencing your working day at 09:00hrs and finishing at 17:00hrs is a rarity because of being constantly accessible with smart technology. But also, our mindset and the very fabric of our lives means that most of us (at some point) want change, we want growth, we want to experience variety and we want a work/life balance that works for us as individuals. Companies have changed too - they want a balanced blend of innovative, progressive and consistent people who can maintain and develop the business in line with corporate strategy.

In the last thirty years, the rise of the Interim Executive has helped many businesses at critical times or junctures - initially Interim Executives were used on a gap management basis whilst a search was conducted for a new permanent employee, the market then recognised the value in bringing in an Interim to troubleshoot and lead/deliver a key programme or project. Now I see more and more companies utilising Interim Executives in a blend of strategic and operational roles where a key output is knowledge transfer and/or cultural change management. Corporations expect output & success at a far greater pace than ever before - and that means ALL new hires need to make an impact as soon as possible - no longer can a new permanent hire join, acclimatise to their environment, build relationships with key stakeholders over time and THEN begin to deliver. In addition, most companies have concerns that when hiring a "high-flyer" the incumbent may move on within a short time (3-5 years) due to their progression within the hiring organisation being too slow or being headhunted out.

So where do I think this is leading? I believe that we will see an employment market/corporate hiring culture that blends the current Interim Management and Permanent Contract methodology - to embrace and evolve a methodology already in place - Fixed Term/Objective Contracts. To me it makes absolute sense to hire like Football, Rugby, Baseball, American Football clubs do - with initial term contracts that can then be extended/renegotiated and are in tune with the overall Commercial Strategy of the business.

These styles of contracts would provide flexibility and assurance for both parties. They would allow the "high flyer" an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to deliver against targets and take on a specific challenge with the comfort that a contract extension/renegotiation would be on the cards based on their performance & outputs. The company would have the flexibility to hire in line with a key transformation programme or change agenda safe in the knowledge that they have the option to exit without penalty at the end of the initial term or extend/renegotiate at any point within contract if the outputs and performance warrant it. The Individual and Company both have safeguards and assurances in the fixed nature of the contract - whether it be fixed on the output of a transformation programme or commercial performance, or a transfer of knowledge and the team reaching a certain level of technical competence, or even gap management and a final hand-over date. In addition, both parties have triggers and hooks to entice them to perform and deliver above & beyond expectation - bonus clauses, extension, and renegotiation in line with individual and commercial success.

This model of hiring would mitigate a considerable amount of risk for both parties whilst motivating and stimulating both to achieve a significant ROI.

For me, it represents a very natural progression to the Global Executive Search market - as the company footprint changes there are natural points at which you can flex the location of the workforce, there are natural points that employees can re-site for fixed periods with minimal risk, there is stability and certainty within a flexible and fluid framework. Within this framework, the current methods of engagement (Temporary, Contract, Interim and Permanent) can all still be conducted and adapted.

Clearly, there would need to be a significant governmental review across employee benefits, working regulations, IR35 legislation etc., but for me, this is a methodology that shows a natural evolution and can be cascaded to all levels in all markets. Some organisations I work with already hire in this way at Executive Level, lots of companies hire this way at junior and middle levels so, surely, it's a question of "When" not "If" this becomes the new normal.