The How, When & Why of Temporary Employees: Interim Talent & Your Accounting Backlog or Wish List

The How, When & Why of Temporary Employees: Interim Talent & Your Accounting Backlog or Wish List

By now, the words “inflation,” “downturn” and “slowdown” are common refrains in economic outlooks. With headlines sounding red alarms, companies caught in the middle are feeling the squeeze — pinned down by the talent crunch on one end and constricted by inflation on the other, without immediate relief in sight. The talent shortage is no less pressing in the finance sector, where CFOs cite labor gaps as a top concern. As a result, finance leaders might find that their project backlogs or wish lists have ballooned.

It’s true that permanent employees often outperform temporary workers for long term needs, and this is no less true for finance professionals. But, interim employees can serve as vital pinch hitters. And, the demand for specialist interim talent is not slowing down. Many companies are looking to grow and transform after the pandemic. This is driving competition for key skill sets which is why interim managers and other employees are in demand, particularly across financial and professional services.

The key, then, is understanding the difference between the two types of workforces — along with how, when and why to seek a temporary employee to fulfill a finance project need.

The When: Assessing Your Needs

In deciding when to pull from the temporary workforce, you should carefully assess the need on the table. Is it limited in scope? Can it be accomplished without deep or complex knowledge of your company and its practices? What process will be required to onboard the employee, and do you have resources in place to get the person up to speed efficiently?

If the answers lead you to a project or a set of projects that are characterized by concrete steps or processes – and that are realistic without deeply engrained company knowledge – then well-selected interim talent might be your secret weapon.

For example, the shortage in financial professionals often exposes gaps in technological needs, or in adapting to new regulations or standards. With temporary work arrangements in mind, you might seek out someone whose experience centers on accounting-standard implementation, or with familiarity in rolling out software for which you’ve identified a need. A temporary worker may serve to help automate financial processes, such as accounts payable automation, setting your company up for more sustainable workloads down the line. In other words, in a temporary professional you can employ a more narrowly defined specialist with highly selective expertise.

The Why: Advantages to Temporary Workers

It’s important to understand the benefits and limitations of temporary workers. Interim finance talent is, by its nature, designed to hit the ground running and fill a short-term gap with a quicker on-ramp. Members of the temporary workforce will have experience in assessing and tackling projects in short order, especially when properly vetted and well set up.

Importantly, when assessing what types of roles to fill, it’s essential to view permanent and temporary positions through different lenses. For a permanent hire, you’ll be looking for someone who is the “full package” — a person who holds growth potential, aligns with company culture and holds a diverse and wider ranging skillset. You’ll assess someone for their capability over time rather than taking a more limited look at their immediate potential. For a temporary hire, you have the advantage of focusing on how distinct abilities lend themselves to the particular projects on your docket.

The How: Setting the Foundation for Successful Interim Talent

In hiring a permanent employee, you’re making an investment in someone who, in turn, has an interest in building the frameworks within which they’ll work over time. Depending on project length, a temporary worker may not become integrated into workflows or daily practices to the same extent as a permanent employee. It’s important to predefine the processes and timelines required to accomplish a given project for which you’re seeking interim talent.

To help make a temporary employee’s work efficient and readily achievable, you’ll want to understand and outline the steps necessary to drive a project to completion and communicate these steps upfront. For this, you might need to enlist the collaboration of those in adjacent roles, or who work within the department where the need exists.

While onboarding may not be as in depth for a temporary hire, it remains a vital step. But, the process may look different for someone in whom you’re making a shorter term investment. Consider: what are the essential components of company culture and structures? For example, you’ll want your temporary employee to have upfront familiarity with job architecture, understanding who to report to and where to go with questions. You’ll want to clearly establish communication practices, so that interim talent doesn’t become isolated. And, you’ll want to establish transparent, communicable goals and performance metrics. This serves the essential function of helping support the temporary employee in completing the project at hand and articulating their progress.

Gathering data on project progress will serve another function, too; it may help you to assess whether there exists a larger or longer-term need better suited for a permanent position or an outsourced service. Once the project is complete, you can take a comprehensive look at how the work performed fits within larger goals, resource pools and strategies. In many cases, you can use your project as a testing ground, assessing the costs and benefits associated with filling a need more permanently.

For more information about finance talent placement, visit us here, or visit our Talent & Compensation Solutions website to learn more about our other placement services.

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The How, When & Why of Temporary Employees: Interim Talent & Your Accounting Backlog or Wish List temporary workers in a competitive and uncertain labor market can be a great strategy. Use these tips to see if interim talent fits your org's goals.2022-09-13T17:00:00-05:00

Hiring temporary workers in a competitive and uncertain labor market can be a great strategy. Use these tips to see if interim talent fits your org's goals.

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