As part of my role at Michael Page Logistics an interesting set of circumstances drew itself to my attention.
In the space of three days I had supported two of my colleagues when visiting our clients to discuss very similar warehouse management requirements for peak focused businesses, one in the North West and one in the East Midlands. Both businesses were looking to secure additional resource to replace an employee leaving, and both were keen to move quickly to ensure that they secured the correct candidate prior to the peak season demand. Both recruitment campaigns are competitive, therefore the hiring businesses use multiple agencies to recruit the role.
At the time of writing, the North West business is no further forward. They have been through a recruitment campaign lasting four weeks, conducted first, second and a third stage meet and greet interview with their European based Operations Director, all within three weeks which is impressive. However, the process went back to square one as the selected successful candidate resigned from their current position and was promptly offered a salary increase to stay with their current employer, an offer their duly accepted. This was something we had highlighted as a risk from the beginning as we understood their current business was likely to fight to keep hold of an exceptionally good employee.
In contrast, the East Midlands based business are now three weeks further on with on-boarding their latest recruit. Their candidate has already met their wider peers, held one-to-ones with their direct reports, presented their first two weeks findings to the senior team and is well on with peak planning and implementing the plan, adding to the company’s strengths with the wealth of experience they have brought from their background within the sector.
So what’s the difference?
We had similar conversations with both clients regarding the challenges of hiring at this time of the year. Both wanted a permanent solution, however, the second client assessed their level of need and adapted their campaign to proceed in two stages. This resulted in them meeting two interim candidates within 24 hours of our visit and one of these promptly joined within 48 hours. They are continuing to explore the permanent recruitment option, however they now have the flexibility of retaining this interim until beyond peak should they require. It could also provide a few weeks handover when the permanent hire is made.
So why do many businesses appear reluctant to utilise the skills of interim managers and directors within their businesses? The same can be asked for both standard business operations and those during peak. In my experience these reasons fall into four areas:
1) It's a permanent role and we want a permanent solution!
The interim solution is rarely a replacement of the permanent recruitment. You can approach this in a few different ways:
- hire an interim to have an immediate impact and give you time to make the right permanent hire;
- hire an interim to cover a critical part of the role. Maybe some of the man management and team support needs an interim, you may pass another area of a job to an existing team member;
- reduce the negative impact on the business if this was to be a gap for longer than a month. This impact can be on both business performance and your existing team; and
- where you have someone working a notice, an interim is a great way of getting a handover before the person finishes and then being able to handover to the new permanent hire when they arrive.
2) Timeframe to hire
When people consider this they often factor in an array of available talent, a rapid recruitment process and a short notice period. It's natural to always expect the first process to result in success. Realistically and in a competitive market (peak is a good example) based on candidates being in high demand and having multiple options this may not always be the outcome. What may have been five weeks can quickly become 12.
3) Not having the time to train an interim
Those that have hired an interim will know this is rarely a challenge. Many of the interims we place have experience of landing on their feet and being independent. It's not unusual for the interim to have previously done a bigger role, so hitting the ground running is why they are hired. When you consider the lost opportunity cost to the business or impact on those that are over stretched and under supported the disruption to the business is getting them up and running is comparatively minimal.
This has many facets to it however when you compare the true cost difference of an interim day rate against a permanent salary the difference is much smaller than people's initial calculations. To do this you need to factor in:
- The number of working days in the year (to compare a day rate to an annual salary.
- benefits (holiday and sick pay, healthcare, pensions, NI contributions).
- You only pay for days worked.
- You are not pay-rolling or administering their employment.
- What is the true business cost if an operation is not running as effectively as it otherwise would be?
I will say that I don't think an interim is right for every opportunity, nor is it always required. What I would recommend though is keeping an open mind when you next go to market. What will the challenges be? Could an interim be a part of an overall solution? Should I at least meet the best two interim options and make an informed decision from there?
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