I wanted to share my observations regarding the market for interim internal communications professionals and what this year has in store for them. The observations are based on my own experience as principal consultant at VMAGROUP, where I focus on senior level interim opportunities for internal and change communicators.
Last year was challenging for interims. The market was particularly quiet in the first two quarters and the majority of positions that were available seemed to be junior and tactically-led.
The effect of IR35
The revised IR35 legislation, which came into force in April 2017, makes public sector organisations responsible for determining the status of interim workers, whether they fall in-scope or outside of this regulation. As a result, many public sector organisations are choosing to hire contractors on their payroll, rather than directly through a candidate’s limited company. Of course, this is not the preferred method of operating for most interims, so we saw an influx of public sector candidates flooding into an already quiet interim market.
Greater demand led by efficiency and cost saving needs
On a more positive note, we saw greater demand in Q3 and Q4 for change communications specialists, which will continue into this year. This has been led by a need for organisations to improve on efficiency and generate cost savings, both of which involve making changes to systems, processes, technology and people. All rounded change communications professionals have been able to benefit from such roles.
Larger organisations, and particularly those that have gone through an acquisition are realising the benefits of centralising their systems and supply chains and I have personally worked with a handful of businesses who have recruited change communications specialists as part of their major transformation programmes.
Smaller organisations establishing an IC function
As for smaller, less established organisations, many are just looking at creating a professional internal communications function. With these organisations, senior level interims fit the bill perfectly as they’re able to set the strategy and put in place good working practices.
Last, but not least, we expect a greater demand for interims to communicate Brexit related matters. We placed our first Brexit specialist for a large financial services organisation in December and anticipate more briefs along a similar line for 2018.
Overall, I’m expecting to see continued demand for change communications professionals, particularly those who have worked within a technology environment. Of course, there will always be the need to bring employees on this journey, so cultural and behavioural understanding is paramount in addition to the technical skills and abilities of any good IC professional.
Written by Deborah Le
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