There’s a common misconception in the working world that interim employment is something businesses should avoid if they can help it. Think of it like you might look at renting a house. It’s expensive at the outset and it’s often something you pay for because you need to, not because you want to.
What I’ve learned through experience, however, is that interim contracts are more closely aligned with mortgage payments; an investment that will continue to provide a greater benefit to a business’s prospects.
While the benefits come in many different shapes and sizes, the principles remain the same; you need a temporary solution for your business that makes the right impact.
With this in mind, what does an interim sustainability professional do?
Adding value from the get-go, interim sustainability professionals will often play an instrumental role in helping to drive immediate change within the workplace.
Skilled at adjusting to diverse working situations with ease and learning new systems at speed, these people will have had similar remits elsewhere and can offer immediate help, as well as advising on how sustainability goals have been implemented effectively in a multitude of previous businesses, bringing in fresh, outside thinking.
Why should I hire an interim sustainability professional?
1. Meeting immediate needs due to a resource gap or during a permanent hiring search process
Many leaders once hesitated to onboard interim workers due to concerns about the length of time it takes to get them up to speed. Over time, however, interim hires have demonstrated that they not only keep pace during quick transitions but even accelerate their team’s progress.
Additionally, interim hires are cost-effective, often operating on hourly or day rates and not requiring pension/holiday benefits. This, coupled with fixed contractual deadlines and clear expectations, ensures that interim hires focus on the job in hand with faster results, making them invaluable assets to sustainability teams while complementing permanent hires.
2. Expertise to boost a team’s skill set for specific projects
As businesses intensify their sustainability efforts, I am observing an increase in requirements for short-term expertise to achieve greater impact.
For instance, an interim might:
Share their expertise to quickly and efficiently implement a sustainability strategy, leveraging existing skill sets in the team to embed it
Develop, review or advise on an existing sustainability strategy
Create, define and implement new sustainability reporting governance processes
Understand and implement new sustainability thematic areas such as nature and working towards TNFD (Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures) reporting or implement an ESG strategy across the supply chain
Undertake the immediate demands of a role while the organisation invests time in conducting a thorough search for a permanent hire
3. Providing an extra pair of hands for a stretched team
The growing demand for talented sustainability professionals results in many companies requiring expertise from external sources to achieve their sustainability goals, or simply to keep up with the workload within their teams.
According to Reuters, economic uncertainties have led to employers turning their focus towards interim hires to bolster their workforce, while Personnel Today says an interim can help unpack various challenges from crisis management to internal expansion.
Working in this professional space has demonstrated that an interim can be a huge asset who will help achieve corporate ambitions and introduce a high-level skill set to an existing team with no extra headcount.
Another advantage of using interim within the sustainability function is the flexibility provided. This means that they can scale up or down their sustainability efforts depending on their needs, without incurring unnecessary costs.
There has been a recent sharp increase in interim hires as sustainability and ESG leaders become more aware of an interim’s ability to ‘get the job done’ effectively and to a tight deadline, sometimes at very short notice. Furthermore, the financial sectors are increasing their spend on short-term, assignment-based talent.
No organisation is immune from the benefits; from FTSE100 to not-for-profits and start-ups interim support can benefit an organisation at any stage or size.
To learn more about trends in the interim market, results of the 2023/24 Sustainability Census Report are now available by clicking here.
Elliot Fisher is Head of Interim Recruitment – Sustainable Business at Acre. His work involves consulting with his clients to support them in achieving their Sustainability and ESG ambitions, whilst also solving challenges by providing contract and freelance solutions, from interim technical environmental and sustainability specialists to global ESG leaders.