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Will There be Permanency in Project Management?

Will There be Permanency in Project Management?
Last year, our whitepaper: The Rise of the Contingent Workforce, found that the number of contingent workers in New Zealand is increasing. With how well this lends itself to Project Management, it’s not surprising to find that more people in this area are starting to lean towards project based working.

For Project and Change Management recruitment, this trend has presented an interesting observation. Many businesses are looking at this shift with trepidation and are in fact not able to find the best Project Management talent because of it. If your business is struggling to find excellent Project and Change Management people, here are some thoughts on how to fix it.

Project Management is Constantly Changing

Before we get to why this is happening, it’s important to note that when it comes to Project Management, change is inevitable. A few years ago, at OCG, we split our Technology recruitment unit into four functional recruitment verticals because of shifts in the market, and then 18 months ago, we merged our project recruitment into one business unit as we realised the market was changing and we had to change with it. Clients began wanting project resources with backgrounds in strategy and business as opposed to just Technology.

For the last few years, there has been a noticeable swing towards contingent workers in Project Services, not only do they get paid more but the work presents variety. However, many large employers are still relying on engaging permanent project resources. The projects the larger businesses have may be temporary in nature but they often have multiple programmes of work throughout the year, but as more high-calibre candidates sway to contract and temporary work, these organisations are finding it difficult to attract and secure great Project Managers, Business Analysts, and Change Consultants.

How to Find the Best Project Managers in Today’s Contingent Market

The rise of the contingent workforce won’t stop any time soon, so as an employer who predominantly relies on permanent project resources, it is likely you’re going to need to make several changes to retain and improve your competitiveness within the market.

Be Innovative

With more Project Management professionals looking to go contracting, avoiding contractors and temporary workers will be detrimental. To circumvent this issue, design a flexible plan that can account for your preferred recruitment option but also include some alternatives. For example, whilst your preferred resource might be a permanent Project Manager, an alternative option could also include a 9-month temporary contract if a permanent project resource isn’t secured in time. Of course, there are other innovative ways to improve your attractiveness to high-calibre candidates, such as embracing flexible working.

Consider a Contingent Budget

That plan should also take budget into consideration. At the beginning of a financial year, plan ahead (and be prepared) for the difficulty to recruit permanent headcount in the project space. Our contingent workforce whitepaper found that the biggest grievance for large companies is cost, but I’ve observed several occasions where organisations engage contractors as a last resort and ended up relying on them for long periods of time. Over that duration, those contractors acquire significant intellectual property and become too valuable to let go but at a great expense to the employer. Including additional budget to be used on contingent workers in your plans can be critical to keeping your Opex costs in check and a step ahead of your competition.

Manage Cultural Risk

Your organisational culture is crucial to your business and incorporating contingent workers into your workforce can challenge your existing culture. Our whitepaper also found that the three highest benefits of working contingently was having a greater diversity of work, possessing a better work/life balance and having more control over a career. If any of your permanent employees become envious of the benefits contingent workers receive, then the added fact that contractors can often be paid a higher rate could be enough to sway them to pursue contingent work themselves.

To avoid compromising your existing culture when employing contingent workers, the first thing to do is to look after your permanent employees. Permanent staff can end up feeling like their jobs are under threat when working with a highly skilled contractor if you delegate the wrong tasks. To prevent this from happening, consult with your existing team to carefully consider what tasks need to be outsourced or kept in-house before going to market.

Recognition and development can also play a pivotal part in protecting your existing culture. If you employ a highly skilled contractor to complete crucial work, it can often be easy to reward their impressive results without realising how this overshadows your permanent staff. To avoid this from happening, be sure to continue rewarding your permanent employees for their hard work regardless of the results of your contractors. The same approach can also be taken for employee development. If you have further work on more important projects, consider whether there are any opportunities for internal promotion first, before returning to the contingent market.

Another way you can protect your existing culture is to ensure any contingent worker is a great cultural fit before hiring them. Whilst some organisations believe this isn’t worth doing as contractors are temporary, failing to check if they’ll be a great fit for your team can be hugely damaging to your business and affecting productivity. Psychometric testing can provide a quick and effective method of ensuring any temporary hire is a great cultural fit before bringing them into your team.


With all evidence pointing towards a more contingent future for Project and Change Management, it’s very possible that your business may need to adapt to stay competitive within the market. If you have a strong portfolio of project work coming up but are struggling to find permanent or contract professionals to help drive these projects forward, our dedicated Project and Change Management team are here to help. Contact us today to find out how.

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