Interim Leadership

Interim Leadership in a Changing World: ESG, Productivity, and IR35 Perspectives


Interim leadership has emerged as a dynamic solution in today’s ever-changing business landscape. As organisations face increasing challenges and the need for specialised expertise, the demand for interim executives has skyrocketed. In this article, we will delve into three key trends shaping the interim management landscape: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations, declining productivity, and the impact of IR35 regulations. As Hoffmann Reed, a leading interim search firm, we are at the forefront of these trends, assisting organisations in finding first-class interim leaders to navigate these complex issues effectively.

ESG: Embracing Sustainability and Responsible Business Practices

The emergence of ESG considerations has fundamentally transformed the operational landscape and business conduct of organisations. Stakeholders, encompassing employees, customers, investors, and regulators, are displaying a growing insistence on sustainable and socially responsible practices. Consequently, a notable trend has emerged wherein there is a heightened requirement for interim executives who possess extensive knowledge and comprehension of ESG frameworks and strategies. These interim executives are sought-after to navigate and implement sustainable practices that align with the evolving expectations of stakeholders.

One role we are seeing become increasingly common because of ESG is a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). A CSO is someone who oversees the development and implementation of a company’s sustainability strategy, policies and initiatives. A CSO may also be responsible for engaging with internal and external stakeholders, reporting on ESG performance and impact, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and standards. Some examples of companies that have appointed CSOs in recent years are Pfizer, EY, Akamai Technologies, Unilever, Microsoft and Starbucks.
At Hoffmann Reed, we recognise the importance of ESG in today’s business environment. We have built a vast network of interim leadership professionals who specialise in ESG integration, helping organisations align their operations with environmental sustainability, social inclusivity, and robust governance practices. Our rigorous screening process ensures that we connect our clients with interim leaders who possess the necessary expertise to drive ESG initiatives and implement sustainable strategies effectively.

Declining Productivity: Unlocking Potential and Achieving Results

The decline in productivity has become an increasing concern for organisations across industries due to factors such as rising complexity, remote work, and the need to adapt to rapid technological advancements. According to a report by the BBC, UK workers’ productivity fell in the final three months of 2022, down by 0.1% compared with the same quarter a year ago. It was the second year-on-year quarterly fall in a row, after a 0.2% drop in the July-to-September period. In this challenging landscape, interim management plays a crucial role in boosting productivity. Interim managers provide leadership during transformational phases, driving operational excellence, and implementing innovative solutions. They bring experience and expertise to guide teams through change, align individuals towards common goals, and minimise resistance. Moreover, interim leadership professionals excel in streamlining processes, enhancing efficiency, and introducing creative practices. By leveraging their skills, organisations can proactively address productivity concerns and stay competitive in today’s dynamic business environment.

Hoffmann Reed understands the importance of addressing productivity challenges head-on. Our extensive network of interim executives consists of professionals with a proven track record in driving performance improvements and operational efficiency. Through our tailored search process, we match organisations with interim leaders who have a deep understanding of their specific industry dynamics and possess the expertise to implement effective productivity strategies. By leveraging our expertise, organisations can overcome productivity hurdles and achieve sustainable growth.

IR35: Navigating Compliance in the Era of Regulation

The introduction of IR35 regulations has significantly impacted the interim management sector in recent years. IR35, a tax legislation in the United Kingdom, aims to address issues related to off-payroll working arrangements. It requires organisations to assess the employment status of their interim workers to ensure compliance with tax obligations. This is causing a number of complications throughout the interim space.

Previously, the responsibility for determining employment status and tax obligations rested primarily with the interim executives themselves. However, the onus is now on organisations to conduct thorough assessments and determine the employment status of their interim workers. Non-compliance with IR35 can have significant legal and financial implications for organisations. If an organisation fails to correctly assess the employment status of an interim worker and is found to be in breach of the regulations, it may be liable for unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest. This is creating a shift in engagement models as many organisations have become cautious about engaging interim workers through personal service companies (PSCs) due to the potential compliance risks.

So far, we have already seen a number of high-profile public-sector organisations being subject to huge fines and penalties at the hands of the HMRC for not complying with the legislation:
• £87.9 Million – The Department of Work and Pensions “DoWP”
Following a thorough investigation, it came to light that the Department of Work and Pensions (DoWP) erroneously assessed the employment status of their flexible workforce from 2017 to 2021, relying on the HMRC’s online CEST tool. This led to an £87.9 million financial penalty.

• £33.5 Million – The Home Office
The Home Office faced scrutiny from HMRC for inaccurately assessing the employment and tax statuses of their flexible workforce between 2017 and 2021. Consequently, they were fined £29.5 million, in addition to a £4 million penalty.

• £4.3 Million – The National Health Service “NHS”
During 2017 and 2018, the NHS encountered issues with their engagement of contractors. Despite utilising HMRC’s CEST tool, their audit outcomes were found to be incorrect, resulting in a £4.3 million fine.

Navigating IR35 regulations can be complex and time-consuming for organisations. At Hoffmann Reed, we stay updated on the latest regulatory changes and offer expert guidance to our clients. Our thorough understanding of IR35 ensures that we match organisations with interim executives who comply with the legislation, minimising legal and financial risks. By partnering with Hoffmann Reed, organisations can focus on their core business while we handle the intricacies of IR35 compliance.


Interim leadership has become an indispensable resource for organisations facing the challenges of the modern business landscape. As we have explored in this article, the key trends of ESG considerations, declining productivity, and the impact of IR35 regulations are shaping the interim management landscape. Hoffmann Reed, as a leading interim search firm, is well-positioned to assist organisations in addressing these trends effectively.

Our extensive network of interim executives with expertise in ESG integration, productivity enhancement, and compliance with IR35 regulations ensures that organisations find the right interim leaders to drive sustainable growth. By partnering with Hoffmann Reed, organisations can leverage the vast knowledge and experience of our professionals, enabling them to navigate complex issues, seize opportunities, and thrive in today’s dynamic business environment.

Download our 2023 interim report to gain further insights into the evolving landscape of interim management and discover how Hoffmann Reed can help your organisation thrive in an ever-changing business world.