After five years of working closely with manufacturers, retailers and candidates while recruiting in the FMCG and food sectors, we have been able to witness the challenges that they face, especially with regards to employment and the workforce.
Right now, both sectors are having to contend with the battle of the interim employee; a growing trend of permanent employees deciding to ‘go interim’.
Although interim employees are not a new concept to the FMCG sector, the positions were notoriously held by individuals that had a long career history in their field, and came equipped with extensive knowledge and a wealth of experience. Often in the later years of their career, they would use the expertise they had acquired to their advantage, and gain a more favourable work life balance in the meantime.
Businesses embraced these experts, they were well-known for coming into a business that was experiencing specific issues, using their well-honed skills and knowledge to solve challenges, before leaving again, preventing a brand from losing money or damaging their reputation – providing a ROI rather than becoming a long-term budgetary drain.
This model was successful for a long-time but has recently experienced a, frankly shocking, shift. We are witnessing, first-hand, an unprecedented rise in younger and far less experienced employees leaving their permanent roles in favour of goinginterim. In short, these individuals are chasing the prices that they know are being commanded by the legacy interim staff. What they are choosing to ignore, is the fact that these prices are a reflection of the individual’s ability, knowledge and experience, along with their many achievements since being in an interim role.
To be blunt, you simply cannot compare a member of staff with more than twenty years’ experience to one that has an average of three years; the comparison in unfathomable. BUT – both the FMCG and food sectors have been placed in a stranglehold as a result of this paradigm shift.
We have made no secret of the fact that FMCG firms in particular, are going to find themselves facing a labour shortage. An ability to attract the next generation because of its stagnant and stifled image combined with an aging workforce means that the sector is limited to the talent that they have access too.
The situation they are in, is forcing them to pay the prices charged by these inexperienced interims, because they are limited in the number of other options that are available with a pool of talent that is quickly diminishing. To put it into context, employees that were recently in positions whereby they were paid £30,000 per annum, are now charging £300 a day, plus expenses, as an interim for the same position.
This sudden increase in a company’s payroll bills is creating a catch-22 scenario; unable to fill the vacancies, there is little option but to pay the expensive interim prices, which eats into recruitment budgets, leaving them with a reduced chance of attracting great talent to employ in the vacant roles.
Due to the lack of experience held by the influx of young interims, it’s unlikely that businesses are gaining the same level of ROI that the previous generation of interims were providing, leading to them struggle to grow or maintain their profits.
We can’t say that this new upsurge of interim employees is good news for the food and FMCG sectors; but incredibly, it appears that it has recently formed recruitment agencies that FMCG brands have entrusted to fill their vacancies, that are using underhand and sly tactics to influence mediocre, inexperienced staff to go interim.
Are you beginning to see the link here?
The increased cost of interim employees allows recruitment agencies to charge increased fees; a risky move, but when you are new to the industry and have no relationships to risk or lose, they can afford to be ruthless and underhand. Their lack of experience in recruitment in the FMCG sector means that they have overlooked, or cannot comprehend the value and necessity of longevity when recruiting talent, rather than looking for the quick-win, that solely benefits them, as this model is going to leave the brands consistently recruiting.
It is for the good of the industry to stop this money-haemorrhaging trend. Paying sky-high wages for inexperienced employees that yield little to no return, is senseless. The FMCG and food sector must instead, focus their efforts on changing the perception of the industry to attract innovative, motivated and dynamic talent that will drive the industry forward.
Prior to The Sterling Choice I spent my earlier life in the Insurance industry (don’t judge me). I started The Sterling Choice with Gareth back in August 2013. When I look back to our h...