en
Jobs

Our industry specialists will listen to your aspirations and share your story with Belgium’s most prestigious organisations. Together, let’s write the next chapter of your career.

See all jobs
Services

Belgium’s leading employers trust us to deliver fast, efficient hiring solutions that are tailored to their exact requirements. Browse our range of bespoke services and resources

Read more
About Robert Walters Belgium

For us, recruitment is more than just a job. We understand that behind every opportunity is the chance to make a difference to people’s lives

Learn more

Work for us

Our people are the difference. Hear stories from our people to learn more about a career at Robert Walters Belgium

Learn more

Change creates opportunities for HR interim managers

The HR domain has changed dramatically during and after the corona pandemic. The covid period has brought about a new way of working, which has accelerated technological innovations. Moreover, automation is taking place in the labour market, forcing workers to rapidly develop new skills.  

In this climate of fast-paced change, business leaders are increasingly seeing the value of temporary managers, both to tackle large-scale HR projects and to manage the day-to-day operations within the HR department. At the same time, HR professionals are gradually finding their way to self-employment and turning to interim management.  

Ann Maris and Julie Bruneau are consultants within the interim management division at international recruitment agency Robert Walters, specialising in HR assignments. They share their insights on this evolution.

What kind of interim management HR assignments do you currently see the most?

Ann: "The traditional interim HR assignments at executive level are still there, but we also see a growing demand for specialised, operational profiles such as Payroll Specialist, Talent Acquisition Specialist or Talent Manager. Assignments as HR Business Partner are also on the rise, where you act as the bridge between HR and the business, as it were. In concrete terms, business managers therefore call on interim managers for very diverse assignments: this can include day-to-day HR activities, but also supporting the business by drawing up KPIs together, mapping out training needs to lift employees to a new level and optimising business results, measuring productivity and working out the bonus system."

Julie: "The course of assignments is very diverse, depending on the type of role and your specialisation. If you specialise in hard HR, you deal with company figures and policies in the context of quality improvement, retention, increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism. On the other hand, today we also see assignments where soft HR is more involved: you develop and/or deliver onboarding training, you work out staff training programmes, and so on."

In addition, the rise of digital tools has increased the need for help in digitising HR processes. Organisations are calling on the help of interim managers to implement these new tools and streamline HR processes. Technical skills and experience with HR software, combined with an in-depth understanding of the business, are valuable here.

Which organisations have the highest demand for HR interim managers?

"We find that demand is highest among companies facing major changes," says Ann. " This therefore ranges across various sectors and regions. It concerns both small, medium-sized and large companies finding themselves in a digitisation process, but also, for example, in the case of mergers, acquisitions and organisational changes, there is often an urgent need for HR expertise."

Companies are increasingly realising that strong HR policies have a direct impact on productivity and the bottom line. "Due to the acute shortage of talent, it can be difficult for companies to find the right people in time, for example in case of replacements or large projects," Julie explains. "Interim managers can step in quickly and add value immediately thanks to their extensive experience. They bring specialised expertise, and are strong in problem-solving and crisis management. Moreover, as an objective outsider, they are perfectly placed to train internal middle management in the new processes."

Is there a difference with the demand for HR interim managers in pre-covid times?

"The challenges faced by the HR department today are of a different nature than before the covid period," Ann knows.

"Autonomy, flexibility and teleworking have become basic requirements for employees - things that were almost not talked about before and that require profound adjustments in employment regulations and business processes."  

Julie adds: "More recently, this has included, for example, the 'right to deconnect'. The optimisation of a cafeteria plan and the migration to an all-electric vehicle fleet are also contemporary projects that require the necessary attention and expertise."

How long does an interim management HR assignment take on average?

Ann: "Most assignments cover a period of 4 to 6 months. When it comes to a large project requiring in-depth expertise, this can easily add up to 12 or even 18 months. Increasingly, we also see assignments being extended because the company is taking longer than expected to recruit a permanent HR professional. An interim manager is the ideal solution to cover the search period." 

"Nowadays, it also often happens that a new project forms during the course of the assignment, allowing the interim manager to move into a new assignment with the same company immediately after completion," Julie continues. "Incidentally, this is advice we can definitely pass on to business leaders: if you employ an interim manager for a particular HR project, think carefully about whether there are other - possibly lower-priority - projects for which you can use this professional. Nowadays, HR calls for rapid action, and talent is scarce, so it is better to make full use of the expertise you currently have in-house. Therefore, discuss this with the interim manager in due time, otherwise you risk them already looking for and committing to a connecting assignment."

Are HR professionals open to making the move into interim management?

Julie: "Absolutely! We notice the average age of starting interim managers within HR going down. These days, there are HR professionals in their mid-thirties who are starting out on their own to carry out mid-level operational assignments within payroll, compensation & benefits and talent management."

"This fits completely with the 'Great Resignation' movement we have felt post-covid," Ann explains. "Employees are reflecting on their careers, asking themselves where their passion lies, and what their strengths are. Combined with the many opportunities due to the talent shortage in the labour market, the move to self-employment is currently proving attractive to many HR specialists."

Julie confirms: "Moreover, these days there are plenty of online platforms you can turn to as a newly self-employed person to help smooth the transition. Although, of course, it always remains a leap into adventure!"

What does the future hold in terms of interim management HR assignments?

Talent retention is more important than ever. Building a solid employer brand will therefore increasingly become prominent. "Today's employee not only attaches importance to appreciation and remuneration, but also takes into account the corporate culture and the social efforts of his employer. This translates into very diverse projects in terms of content, ranging from compensation & benefits, EVP and internal and external communication to ED&I and ESG. A picture in which the interim manager fits perfectly," Ann concludes.

Looking for a new challenge?

Discover more about working as an Interim Manager. Curious about which assignments we are currently looking for? Take a look at our interim management vacancies.

Share this article

Related Solutions

Sign up for job alerts
Salary Survey
Career Advice
Get in touch

Find out more by contacting one of our specialist recruitment consultants

Contact us

Ann Maris
Phone: 0475 75 43 28

Julie Bruneau
Phone: 0472 02 03 80

Related content

View all

Achieving a healthy work-life balance

We all know that maintaining a good work-life balance is important for your personal health and wellbeing on a professional and personal level. A healthy workplace can allow you to better achieve and exceed performance objectives and therefore have a positive impact on your career. Increasing worklo

Read More

Rediscovering your career: The first step in upskilling

Many professionals are re-questioning their own career profiles. While establishing a clear understanding of yourself can be a tricky existential question, determining it remains crucial as a basis for any future personal or career plan. If you have been in the workforce for some time, relooking at

Read More

Network your way to success

Effective networking with your peers can be the key to achieving your career goals by finding contacts who can introduce you to new opportunities. With the increasing use of online networking tools, a growing number of professionals are however left wondering how to network in the real world. Here a

Read More

I'm Robert Walters Are you?

Come join our global team of creative thinkers, problem solvers and game changers. We offer accelerated career progression, a dynamic culture and expert training.