Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
Venn Group market update - HR interim market update 27/09/2011
Recent changes in the economy have led to an influx of vacancies for interim HR professionals.
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- NHS cuts driving demand for HR interims
- Public sector demand steady
- Business partnering and change is key
- Financial services – busy times ahead
- Achievement focused experience is crucial
NHS cuts driving demand for HR interims
While there is no doubt that the public sector – and the health service in particular - has been hit by government spending cuts, this has also led to an influx of vacancies for interim HR professionals who can act in an advisory capacity around redundancy and change management programmes. With a deadline of 2015 to shave £20 million from its budget, the NHS is having to learn to do more with less, which presents particular challenges around restructuring, human resource planning, leadership development, and organisational development.
Public sector demand steady
Other public sector areas, such as local government, are also seeing some demand for HR interims to look at strategic workforce planning. This is an area that needs a real commercial approach as the ability to recognise key priority areas within the overall strategy – and how that will impact on staff – is crucial.
While downsizing may be the order of the day, projects around talent management, recruitment and succession planning are still important. The key is to balance those areas around the effective utilisation of human resources. In fact, according to the latest Interim Management Association market audit, local government and health sectors each make up around a quarter of interim assignments within the public sector. This is closely followed by central government assignments at 15%.
Business partnering and change is key
The trend towards business partnering, already entrenched within the private sector, is now becoming more apparent within the public sector as employers look for interims who can add real strategic value with an emphasis on bottom line savings as opposed to process-driven activities such as the administration of sick days and holidays – processes which line managers are now taking responsibility for themselves, or which need to be outsourced.
This in itself has created more interim assignments for advisers who can not only coach managers in the areas of basic HR administration and process, but also manage the shift in mindset that is needed to implement this change. This calls for experience of managing teams and budgets. It is not always in the most welcoming of environments, so a thick skin can also be important.
Financial services – busy times ahead
The recent recommendations concerning the ring fencing of retail bank operations contained in The Vickers Report – although on a longer implementation timeline than expected – will obviously have a major impact on organisational development and restructuring programmes in the run up to the 2019 deadline. This is likely to have a knock on effect on the demand for interim HR professionals who will be needed to manage major organisational change programmes. Additionally, with the Business Secretary showing no let up of his stance on bankers’ bonuses, there could also be an increased need for expertise around the restructuring of remuneration packages.
Achievement focused experience is crucial
The demand for senior level interim change management roles is likely to remain healthy as public sector organisations continue to go through major efficiency and savings programmes, all of which also need significant changes of culture.
For those HR professionals looking for challenging interim assignments, a demonstrable track record of achievement will be essential. Employers are looking for not only hard evidence of maximising the use of talent and managing major change programmes but also how their assignments have contributed to the bottom line in terms of cost saving measures. This means that candidates will also have to show their ability to hit the ground running from day one and make an immediate impact – learning curves are just not an option and the ability to work autonomously is key. Experience needs to be results driven and aligned with business strategy so evidence of commercial awareness is also important.
Sundeep Bakshi, director, Venn Group
Sundeep Bakshi is a Director at Venn Group