Is Interim HR Management Right for You?

Jennifer L'Estrange
August 25, 2021

What is an Interim HR Manager?

An interim HR manager is an external consultant who is assigned to work with your organization on a temporary basis. Most often, this person is a senior HR professional, who has taken on roles of similar responsibility for other companies. Interim work can be short or long term in duration, with most engagements running between 4 and 6 months. Most interim HR managers will work full time for your organization. Some, including the consultants from Red Clover, will only work up to a certain number of days per week, per resource, offering a cost savings opportunity with little to no diminution in the quality of outcomes.

If you are looking to hire an interim HR manager, recognize that you’re looking for someone very different from the person who just resigned and gave you 2 weeks’ notice. That anxiety you’re feeling because you have no idea how the company is going to run next month… Go ahead and get excited because there’s an opportunity for magic here, even if the cover is short term. Interim managers should leave your organization better than they found it and the investment you make now will pay returns for years to come.

Services an Interim HR Manager Can Provide to Your Company

Interim HR, particularly in a senior role, offers an opportunity to review HR processes through the lens of a seasoned professional. Because they typically come with more experience than the role would require on a permanent basis, they see things a little differently and implement small changes that have a large impact on organizational effectiveness.  

Services that an interim HR manager can provide include overall responsibility for the function including the team and budget responsibility, organizational analysis and job design to support strategic change, review of compensation strategy and plans, including changes to salary structures and proposals for variable pay, along with a myriad of other activities across the employee lifecycle. The role of the interim HR consultant is to work with the executive team and implement the people related plans that support the overall business objectives. They’ve been there and done that, so articulate the business problem and hold them accountable for developing the solution.

The Average Cost of an Interim HR Manager

If you are asking for someone to come into your organization on very short notice, with more experience than you need for a permanent role, and you are looking to this person to make meaningful improvements to your people related processes and plans, then you have to be prepared to pay a premium.

On average, you can expect to pay approximately 20-25% more for an interim HR Manager than you would an equivalent internal resource, taking into account salary, bonuses, payroll tax, and benefits.  An easy formula for calculating the monthly cost of an interim HR manager is: Annual Base Salary x 1.45/12. 

More experienced resources will cost more than this. Bottom line, you get what you pay for. Six months of a seasoned business-driven interim HR leader can impact your organization in ways that pay dividends for years to come.

Benefits of an Interim HR Manager

Human Resources can prove a valuable business function for startups in their infancy An interim HR Manager of course brings the benefit of business continuity, but there are some less well known benefits to bringing someone in on an interim basis.

1. They will coach your internal HR team.

An interim manager will bring their technical skills but they should also bring their team management experience with them. Expect them to help your own internal team ‘level up’ during the time that they are working together. A great interim HR manager can leave behind a leadership legacy that impacts the HR team and management at large.

2. They can bring about strategic change.

Don’t underestimate the value of having someone come in from the outside and look around at your processes and strategic direction. There is often an opportunity for the interim HR manager to take something that worked really well in another company – and often in a completely different industry – and make it work for you.

3. They are apolitical.

An interim manager is by definition, temporary. This has the advantage of allowing them to work freely of the organizational politics that can bog down an internal employee.  This doesn’t mean that they lack emotional intelligence or that they aren’t managing stakeholders appropriately; it means that they aren’t worried about limiting their career opportunities by voicing an important but perhaps unpopular opinion.

Who Can Help with Interim HR Management?

Unfortunately, there is no Capterra equivalent for interim HR managers – we wish there was! Most interim HR managers are solo practitioners with varying levels of experience and industry exposure or staffing firms thinly disguised as interim service providers. Red Clover is the leading provider of interim HR support on the eastern seaboard with a unique approach to how we recruit and develop our talent to best serve our clients. We are about as far removed from a body shop as it gets. And we’d be happy to give you an hour of our time to pick our brains. No strings attached. Really.

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The Results

Tech Companies

A 70 headcount pharmaceutical technology firm needed support in company culture alignment and integrating company core values in business interactions internally and with external customers. As a leader in medical software, there was also a need to guarantee legal and regulatory compliance in every aspect of the business, especially as it scaled to serve an expanding customer base.

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