Interim, temporary or part-time employees historically were associated with entry level or so-called “unskilled” positions. But a host of factors have converged to create a new trend in which more executives will jump into careers as interims or “supertemps,” working with multiple companies at one time.
“Look at the early success of Tatum CFO (a provider of temporary executive personnel) — which hit a high of around 1,000 CFO partners,” says Robert Jordan, author of How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America co-founder of the Association of Interim Executives. “They proved that CFO work could be farmed out, and now there are hundreds of firms offering interim CFOs.”
According to Jordan, this trend is expected to continue for the following reasons:
Obamacare is a Game Changer. Jordan points out a recent CNBC article that reported big increases in part-time work, which could be a reaction to Obamacare moving health insurance out of the corporation’s control. “Whether employees get pushed out of company insurance or decide they want independent coverage offered by all states, it adds up to higher portability in insurance,” he states. “If health insurance is transportable, and many employees say they only stay for the insurance, what happens when they can go anywhere anytime? We think this is positive in the sense of allowing job flexibility, and when they get the site working, overwhelmingly so.”
Outsourcing has reached the C-Suite. Gartner predicts global outsourcing will reach $288 billion by 2018. The lower professional end is already here facilitated by sites like Elance, which claims 3 million registered freelancers ranging from writers to financial analysts. And now it’s entered the C-suite as more execs move to interim roles. Jordan says Elance is not yet impacting the C-suite directly — but its rapid growth is showing a trend in more corporations looking to outsource different functions ranging from admin to developer to writer and now even manager and C-level talent. “More executives are entering careers as interims, where they can use their specific expertise and skillset applied to a broad range of companies, sometimes in parallel,” he says. “Six years ago when you used the keyword “interim” or “turnaround” on LinkedIn around 150,000 profiles appeared. Today it is 1 million.”
Corporate cost cutting is a blood sport. Stats from AFL-CIO showed that CEOs received 354 times the pay of the average worker last year. If companies can hire a senior manager and avoid paying benefits and severance, why not? Interims are instantly disposable…no strings attached. “To be clear, an interim executive is NOT a job seeker who decided to take on an interim assignment as a way out. These are executives who do this work as a career,” Jordan explains. “This has become accepted and opens up a world of possibilities where executives can impact an organization in a short period of time, move on and do it again.”
Executives also have Attention Deficit. Execs that have done well in their careers are increasingly bored with sticking around one company for a long period of time, according to Jordan. Steady as she goes can seem like a death sentence for an executive that loves to create order out of chaos and then move to the next company to do it again. “This is not to say some positions and people remain where they are permanently,” he says. “But there is a certain makeup of executive who wants the excitement of rapid change, growth and/or turnaround versus staying on a long path of slow growth.”
Corporate profits do not translate into job security. While the Dow may be on the rise, that doesn’t mean companies are becoming more complacent. Even if your company has record profits, layoffs are still possible and more execs are going to step up to fill that gap in expertise on an as-needed basis. “I’m not sure any area of employment is immune to global effects of outsourcing and radical rethinking of the nature of work,” says Jordan.