10 May, 2017

Preparing for Uncertainty: It’s time to arm the interims

The run-up to the Brexit vote last June will be remembered for many things, but one of the most disconcerting messages that resonated through both camps was the uncertainty of what effect the triggering of article 50 would have on the UK job market.

Almost a year on, committed leavers and remainers alike continue their inconsistent narratives which hasn’t helped global employers navigate this unknown terrain, so they are now being forced to take matters into their own hands to mitigate the impending risk Brexit scenarios will have on their and their clients’ business.

There is still speculation over how life outside the EU will change British business, what are the terms of which employers can expect to have to adhere to and how much leaving the EU is actually going to cost these businesses, in terms of profit but also people.

The is no denying Brexit will affect the supply of talented, diverse candidates, will encourage movement of European talent and will enable large-scale off-shoring and the creation of new European hubs for historically British-based traders. However, against our initial assumptions, we are already seeing many clients wising up to this and an increase in demand for executive interim managers who are being brought in to mitigate the customer risk to enable the core business to try and resume business as usual.

After some initial analysis of the current interim management briefs across Green Park’s executive interim management practices, we have found an average 30% increase in the number of interim mandates received but also a firm focus on demand for executive interim HR and Transformation professionals challenged with getting the right talent strategies in place to mitigate the risk raised by anything from passporting rights to off-shoring European talent.

It is my firm belief that as long as uncertainty remains around major outcomes such as whether there will be limited free movement of professionals between the remaining 27 EU countries and the UK; whether multiple companies will move their HQs from London to alternative cities; and whether international M&A activity begins to leave the UK out of the equation, it’s far from being the right time to turn the talent management and recruitment tap off. In fact, as many of our more forward-thinking clients have begun to realise, Brexit doesn’t mean pause in panic, Brexit means time to re-strategise and plan for the predicted outcomes and interim managers with experience in organisational restructuring and people are integral and perfectly skilled to execute this.

The truth is that whatever the nuts and bolts of Brexit turn out to be, it’s likely that there will be a shortage of capacity within internal HR, commercial and operational teams as organisations return to business as usual. We are already seeing a much higher demand for interim HR professionals with specialist skills in areas such as M&A, Transformation & Organisational Design, Employee Relations, Talent Management and Rewards and Pensions. And as we race further into a candidate driven market, these demands will accelerate as organisations need to react quickly to a requirement to deal with a Works Council or different working legislation in new markets, for example, or to put talent management strategies in place to recruit and retain the best people within their businesses.

The need to acquire, develop and retain employees will never go away but it’s all the more important to have the right teams in place to enable business as usual as well as Brexit planning and execution. Organisations need to be in the best position possible, armed with the short term, specialist skills needed through the use of interims as and when they are required, otherwise there is a large chance they may miss the boat on securing their foot hold in the market completely.

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