For individuals climbing the corporate ladder, full-time permanent jobs have always been the go-to event. As the private corporate world faces a 180° paradigm shift owing to the covid-19 pandemic, the hiring sector is visibly juggling between perm and temp hiring. Increasingly, the idea of self-dependency, entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship, and having a life-work balance as opposed to work-life, has been taking the front seat and workplaces are adding a new chapter – Expert-on-demand.
Notably, the addition of expert-on-demand hiring has not replaced permanent hiring. Instead, as new roles and responsibilities have come up post-pandemic, experts believe that hiring has become selective in these roles. For example, an expert-on-demand will work best for functions such as marketing, sales, cybersecurity, and some finance functions such as restructuring, taking the company public, etc., which are important but may not be a part of the organizational expertise. Meanwhile, roles such as HR, cybersecurity, product development and testing may require organizational discretion of perm or temp hiring.
With experienced interim management, the organization can focus on its core business activity without having to divert a lot of time, energy and resources resulting in overall efficiency.
Paradigmatically speaking, leaders with 15+ years of experience behind them, taking up roles in interim or temp positions is not new. For example, best-selling author Daniel Pink popularized the term “free agent nation” over two decades ago, when the internet was only owned and experienced by a privileged few.
While the term offered a macro-view, an informal outlook into the Gig economy, stating “free agents are the marketing consultant down the street homepreneur to the footloose technology contractor”, it also included the much-overlooked C-Suite gig economy. It underlined how the mature workforce was creating successful new businesses through the Internet – taking up temp expert-on-demand jobs. Before his book, he also contributed an article to Fast Company, outlining the necessity for entrepreneurial, self-employment undertakings in the US.
In another instance, following the Great Recession, as executives and managerial roles went out to the temporary workforce, HBR coined the term “Supertemp”. These executives and managers aimed for a project-based independent life; HBR also quoted that Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Adecco and even Microsoft hired part-time executives and experts. While the inclination towards “Supertemp” took some time, it is finally becoming a trend for post-covid C-Suite hiring.
Where do the world’s first-world countries stand on the Gig CxO economy / Expert-on-Demand hiring scenario?
In a recent article, Forbes surveyed Europe and the US to understand where interim management stands, and its future. Let’s start with the most important facts: while interim management is growing in both Europe and the US, the markets are different. It cited an INIMA report that stated that most European interims were male boomers, typically full- or part-time interim executives for over seven years, 90% of them working for corporates and an average assignment duration of 11 months. The countries where the trend is popular include the UK, France, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy.
It also underlined that the primary functional specialities of European interim managers were general management – board membership, operations, HR and finance. Level-wise roles included interim board roles, Temp CxOs or equivalent, and other C-suite responsibilities including department or project leads. The report stated that more than half the interim manager gigs were in C level roles. Further, in the US, while the numbers and roles weren’t much different from that of the US, (owing to the lack of formal survey), a radical variance was visible in the formal adoption of Gig CxO economy in the country, and a small gender disparity compared to that of Europe.
Almost 25 years after Daniel Pink’s ideology, the world, as Job Younger, an HR thought leader correctly puts it, Gig CxO economy is finally seeing a revolution.
For India Inc, the idea of Expert-on-Demand is not novel, but Temp CxOs do not ring bells. A previous article by CoHire stated that the companies, especially startups are warming to the concept of Temp CxOs. But it is true, that as soon as one hears the term Gig economy, one immediately thinks of contract workers – content creators and the likes. Further, the term C-Suite means, CTO, CHRO, CPO, etc, even executives, project leaders. Thus, companies find the idea of the Gig Economy for C-Suite Leaders a little outlandish – so not warming up soon enough.
For leaders who want to contribute more to themselves than to their jobs, being a temporary CxO can provide a lucrative income, while being easy on their schedule. They may seek VP-level interim roles hoping to transform into full-time C-Level roles, look for part-time roles and impart years of industry experience, and flexibility and diversity in C-Suite roles. The idea does not sound so outlandish when put like that, especially when the benefits are higher when looked at from companies’ point-of-view – independent payroll, lower cash burns, experienced leader hitting the ground running, zero liabilities, project-based hiring, etc.
The wonders of an Interim Executive, an Expert-on-Demand plug and play model
In many ways, interim executives provide a support system to companies who are facing leadership crises, budgeting issues but most importantly need a short-term experienced leader on board. These experts, usually with over 15 years of experience, help the board and staff need fresh perspectives on how to take the organization forward. They also help in critically examining an organization and make necessary changes.
Further, the independence of the interim expert/expert on-demand, allows the board and the company to prepare for long-term leadership. In the meantime, the individuality of the temp leader means no stake in the organization, no full-time position, thus, helping him/her objectively navigate through problems without any internal political challenges.
To realize the scale of the Gig CxO economy, companies must understand what interim leaders are looking for. India is a gold mine of business right now – there are few places with as much competition and none with the market size anywhere nearly comparable. India’s market is usually compared to that of whole continents and as such, leaders are always short in supply in the country.
Looking to hire an expert in a gig role? You can now hire a CxO to mitigate specific pain points in your business as a project. COHIRE makes this possible.