Furloughs, layoffs and companies going out of business have a disproportionate number of high-end performers out of a job. The over 50+ year old category will likely get hit the hardest. They will have a tougher time re-engaging with their markets due to ageism and having the higher salaries.
Enter interim employment. The interim market will become a professionally run job category serviced by firms and people who create an “agent-athlete” environment. Think football agent and NFL athlete. For those in their back-half of their careers — who have great skills, tremendous industry experience, and “steel worker grit” – this is an opportunity.
At first, individuals who are out of work for the first time in their careers will push back, thinking that being a contractor or part of the gig economy is a demotion. That would be a mistake. They would be smart to embrace it, because the early adopters of this emerging job market– both the individuals as well as companies who hire them — will get a competitive jump on those who don’t.
The construct of the workforce was shifting toward the interim economy before the current crisis. Of 160 million people employed in the US, in February 65% had a fulltime job and 33% had a contract job “with an end” on it. Average length of stay for full-time employment was at 3.5 years and decreasing. The average assignment length for the contract category was 2+ years and working towards 3 years.
The COVID-19 crisis will remove the previous social, personal and economic anxieties and stigma of high-end professionals being labeled part of the gig economy. At the next cocktail party, whenever that is, you will not have to explain away why you are in an interim role. New categories of services will emerge that will drive the professional interim markets and offer insurance, benefits, representation to the marketplace and networking.
Progressive CEOs and leaders will finally look at a higher fidelity “talent access strategy” and understand that Talent Access and Human Resources are entirely different skill sets, and finally divide the two functions.
Financial types in companies will love converting fixed cost (perm employee) to a variable cost (interim employee) in order to reduce long term commitments and liabilities. The product and service development types will have the opportunity to flex specialists in and out and have targeted access to talent who can solve very specific problems more effectively.