Contract work saps HR of top permanent staff

Senior HR professionals are turning their back on permanent roles in favour
of interim jobs which offer up to 50 per cent pay rises and five-figure

Recruitment agencies have reported a jump in HR directors and managers
signing up for short-term contract positions. Demand by employers for interim
personnel staff has also risen.

High-tech companies and fast-growing Internet start-ups are leading the chase
for HR experts to handle recruitment and set up a permanent personnel function.

"These companies are stuffed full of bright young things but there is
not so much grey-haired HR experience and expertise around," said Steve
French of agency HW group.

Firms are also chasing locum HR professionals to deal with projects such as
mergers, acquisitions and change management.

Business acumen and the ability make an immediate impact in the role are the
skills most demanded of contract HR staff, recruitment agencies report.

Increased flexibility, greater strategic influence and more variety of work
are cited by HR contractors as the main reasons for entering the interim

One interim HR director Roy Nicholson said the ability to choose which
sectors and roles to enter led him to take contract posts.

A former HR director with wholesaler Booker, Nicholson added that many
employers using contractors do not have the resources in their in-house
personnel department to handle major projects.

Pay rates are greater for interims because firms bring in the resources only
when they need it and can avoid using vastly more expensive management
consultants, said Sarah Taylor, joint managing director of Interim HR.

But she added that higher wages were partly offset by loss of company
benefits such as pensions and healthcare.

By John Robinson

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