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Interims, you appear so expensive! But are you worth it?!

3 months ago by Megan Wain

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​The use of executive interims has been heavily scrutinised over the years and is a topic that continues to be debated today. When considering the context of consistently squeezed budgets, heightened by Covid, and the potential of organisations having to restructure as a result, interims appear to be an expensive resource that consequently gets questioned.

On a purely monetary basis, it is arguable that interim day rates are not as wildly different to a permanent salary as it might first appear. Take into account that interim day rates hold no additional costs such as holiday pay, pension payments, sick pay or employer National Insurance contributions. So, the actual total cost is often comparable.

Further to this, one of the huge benefits of the interim market is the speed with which they can be sourced and can start making a valuable contribution in their new position. Bearing in mind that a permanent recruitment process can take up to and sometimes over a month, with notice periods often lasting another three months, it is immediately evident that the vacant executive position will cause a sizeable loss of contribution or productivity to an organisation. This productivity cost put into a monetary value will often vastly outweigh the cost of the interim.

We should also consider that interims can provide a huge return on investment as they are often launched into organisations in crisis. Their day rate reflects their specialist skills, their experience of handling such crisis situations and their ability to solve problems and deliver successful outcomes. Our clients are paying for someone who can quickly add value. Interims should also leave behind a legacy through the knowledge they pass onto colleagues and the strategies and structures they’ve put in place. This ‘legacy’ should be something interims are measured on as it shows they’ve taken a long-term view of supporting their client, thus further enhancing their value.

Coming from outside the organisation, with a fresh perspective and unaffected by internal politics, allows interims to develop new ideas within an organisation in a way that a permanent employee may not be able to. Similarly, they are more results focussed, concentrating on the task they have been hired for and therefore less likely to be distracted and slowed down by the extra responsibilities that a permanent employee would be required to juggle.

It should be quantifiable how valuable an interim assignment has been. If the need for interim management was necessary, there should be an evident start and end date, along with some measurables or identifiable results that are to be gained from the hiring of an interim. It is therefore the responsibility of the Council, and of us at Tile Hill as recruiters, to ensure that the goals when hiring an interim are set out clearly.

It is this statement alone that perhaps is the most crucial in the debate about the value of interims. We can recognise that there are times when organisations will come to us with ambiguous briefs and unclear goals for the interim, and it is our responsibility to work with our clients to help define a set of outcomes that will be transformative for their organisation. This set of outcomes and priorities should be defined before we send an interim into an organisation as it ensures that the interim can be an efficient use of government resources. In the same vein, when searching for candidates, we do not stop exploring the market at the first available candidate, but only once we have found the best candidate, or the right candidate, for the task at hand. It is this ethos and commitment to identify leadership that delivers that Tile Hill wants to be measured on; the ability to work with our clients to produce clear briefs, our determination to source the best talent available, and ensuring that the interim proposition is one that adds values to our clients and demonstrates good value for money.