Urgently looking for staff? Go for substitutes who overturn the match immediately
188. Our labour market already has so many bottleneck occupations. Year after year the list continues to grow, and more bottleneck occupations are being added than are disappearing. The ‘guilt’ of the baby boomers (once again) who are waving off en masse, but also of the digital technology that is evolving faster in many places than the skills needed to deal with that technology. It’s about skilled workers, nurses and technicians, but financial lumps and management positions (in IT and elsewhere) are just as much on the list of bottleneck profiles.
No magic solution
ManpowerGroup’s annual survey shows that as many as 45% of Belgian companies are now finding it difficult to fill their vacancies. In Flanders this is even more than half. A record. Of course training is needed – dual learning, adult education, … – in order to fill the most difficult vacancies and to avoid the emergence of new bottleneck occupations.
But that is a long-term job, and companies are also longing for short-term solutions. With the classic recipes they won’t get there anymore. In the countries around us, companies are increasingly turning to project and interim managers to respond quickly and flexibly to new needs.
The Gig Economy
These are freelance managers who take care of a temporary need for a company, regardless of the sector. In Belgium, such managers are on the rise, for example at companies such as Colruyt, Lampiris, bpost, Lineas, P&V, Telenet,… But the lift goes up slowly and a lot of potential remains unexploited.
Project and interim managers are not a magic solution. They are not going to replace the recruitment and retention policy of companies. But they are an additional solution to ensure that no sand gets into the machine and that companies continue to grow. If vacancies for executives and management positions remain open for a long time, companies risk losing control of the teams and departments below them as well. This waterfall effect can be avoided by project and interim managers.
From months of searching to days of searching
It takes time to find suitable staff: posting vacancies, screening and filtering CVs, interviewing applicants, selecting the final candidate. Often the white raven has to respect a notice period and does not come on board until many months later. In the case of project and interim managers, this is a matter of days. No time to waste.
Project and interim managers no longer have to warm up or test run, they are already eroded. It is the invaders who immediately make the match tip over. In many companies, especially large ones, employees’ skills become a little rusty after a while. The golden cage becomes a bit too comfortable. That’s humane, but it’s a big risk in a digital age where manoeuvrability is crucial.
Project and interim managers are constantly changing, switching between sectors and companies, constantly gaining new knowledge and experience. If their skills are given the chance to rust, they are on their way to another assignment. In other words, they remain extremely hungry.
Far away from politics
Today, many business leaders are annoyed by the perpetual formation of government in our country. But even companies do not escape politics, and even in companies, political interests sometimes cloud judgment. Project and interim managers do not sit in camps, they do not engage in internal politics. They can assess situations or problems with the distance that is necessary in many cases in order to devise a good solution.
It does not look as if the war on talent will blow over soon. If companies want to avoid setting a new record with their staff shortages next year, they urgently need to have the courage to come up with new solutions. Then they must also dare to fish in new ponds.