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How an On Demand Economy Equals Flexible Workforce

An on demand economy is one of the latest trends to transform the American business landscape with the introduction of a flexible workforce

On demand economy is quickly becoming a hot topic not just in strategic talent management discussions but also as part of our daily lives. With the increase of technology and on-demand models, our need to not pay for something until we need it and only pay for what we need or use with little or no effort has become part of our existence, not just part of making our lives easier.

The growth of Uber, Airbnb, and various other online platforms has created a new economy of increased availability, speed of access and delivery as well as more competitive costing. From movies streaming to my living room and music being suggested to me based on my listening choices, the ease and customization have also increased.

For businesses, on-demand talent has become the equivalent of lean manufacturing or just in time inventory.Companies no longer need to carry long-term payroll and a heavy infrastructure to meet the variable talent needs of the business. Talent marketplaces such as Upwork provide a turnkey solution for on-demand talent, particularly in the areas of marketing and technology.

As companies become familiar with this model, it becomes clear all of the applications it can have to supplement or compliment the current staff. One of the growing areas is at the top leadership levels. Companies are using interim executive and executive consultants to supplement expertise gaps, fill a short term need or provide much needed outside perspective. These on demand executives influence everything from strategy to daily operations of the business.

One of the growing and least thought of areas is at the CEO, President and General Manager level. Companies and boards are using interims at an increased rate. This increase is being fueled by a number of factors and situations. First, it is taking longer to find the right long-term fit. They want to take the time to find the right individual and utilize an interim executive to fill the position while conducting their search. Placing an executive is challenging. When it is at the top of the organization that challenge multiplies and the impact of making the wrong decision does as well. Second, the position vacated is often left either in turmoil, or the initial leadership gap has caused some disruption to the business leaving it in a declining state. Rather than leaving it in a state of decline, an interim executive is brought in to adjust, stabilize and keep it moving forward.

Finally, given the impact of going through turnover at the top leadership level, companies are looking to avoid the wrong decision and minimize their risk as much as possible. To address this, we are seeing the increased trend of bringing in a CEO, President or General Manager on an interim basis as more of a trial basis. Since they are often not stepping into ideal circumstances, both the executive and the board/company leadership are able to see how each other performs, responds and works together before deciding what to do next.

We have seen a number of each of these situations. One, in particular, fit all of the above. Cerius worked with a large non-profit on placing an Interim CEO. Though it is a non-profit, the organization operated more like a for-profit with many of the same goals and challenges of it. One of the organization’s largest divisions was faced with concerns about the sustainability of the business, finding the right person to lead it and had already experienced at least one failed CEO hire for the division. The board knew there were numerous issues but weren’t exactly sure where and how to address without the right leadership in place.

After a bit of research, the board decided to try out an Interim CEO in the role. Six months later they were pleasantly surprised by the amount of progress and the fit of the Interim CEO, so much that they offered him the CEO position. As the Interim CEO, he quickly reviewed the budgets and reduced unnecessary expenditures. He implemented some change management practices and gave department heads more responsibility allowing for quicker improvements at all levels. The company culture changed away from operating in a vacuum to being part of the bigger picture and vision of the company. They launched their first mobile application and opened a new off-site call center. They were also able to increase the sales & marketing staff while decreasing operational staff.

The impact of all of these adjustments was astonishing. The division achieved a 34% increase in annualized donations. Their outsourced marketing costs were reduced by over 60% while maintaining the same amount of services. Between the increased marketing budget and efficiencies put in place, their call centers were able to significantly increase their calls per week.

One year later, the company has continued to grow substantially. The company CEO remarked, “Hard to believe he was able to transition in so quickly and well. Saying the business has stabilized is an understatement.”

To learn more about how an interim executive can impact your business, contact us.

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