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Controlling Vacancy Costs: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Big Bucks

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By Loren Miner, Chief Operating Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Part 3:  Vacancies? Don’t Even Go There

In this series I’ve been writing about Costly Sins to avoid in filling vacant positions. Once a job is open, it can cost your company hundreds of dollars a day in terms of revenue, efficiency, time to market/competitive edge, opportunity, and in other ways. And, of course, it is costly to recruit. The bottom line: fill it fast.

So far we’ve looked at reactive approaches — after the position is vacant. Let’s step back and talk about proactive tactics. The best way to control the cost of vacancies is to prevent them. Here are a couple of ideas to help.

Costly Sin #4: Not paying attention to retention

A key tactic here is to hire well from the beginning and set the stage for a long, mutually satisfying relationship. Anyone with experience in talent acquisition knows how deceptively simple that sounds. How to hire well could be the topic of a whole book, but here are some of the key points we’ve discovered at Decision Toolbox, through both helping our clients and our own hiring.

You need to be clear not only on what skills and experience you need, but also on where you are willing to give and take. Another important dimension is culture fit, whether you want someone to fit right in or help with a culture shift.

Straight up honesty

Don’t underestimate the importance of honesty in the recruiting and onboarding process. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, about half of employees believe their employer is not completely honest with them, and 25% don’t trust their employer at all. Makes you wonder why they stay at those companies.

Most candidates, then, would find it unique and refreshing if you provide them with honesty in the job description and interview process. Be open about the challenges and obstacles. If a position requires assertiveness, let people know that so non-assertive types move on.

Once you’ve hired someone, make sure they feel welcome. Kathy Marshall, DT’s Director of Quality and Training, provided some tips along these lines in a recent blog, including having your senior executives reach out to the new hire even before he or she starts. During the ramp-up period, make sure the person training the new hire is compassionate and empathetic. Usually there is a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming. But think how much loyalty you generate by showing that compassion. Honesty comes into the picture again as you ensure that expectations on both sides are clear.

Costly Sin #5: Stunting your people’s growth

Retention continues beyond the initial onboarding, and training and development (T&D) is a key strategy in promoting ongoing retention. The cost of training will vary from one position to another, but if you calculate it and compare it to the cost of filling a vacancy, T&D starts to look pretty good. Most enterprise size corporations have a T&D department. Whether you’re just starting to create a T&D program or you already have one in place, make sure it includes both hard skills as well as soft skills like communication and leadership. There are packaged and online resources available for general skills, and you might need to send technical employees to seminars.

Providing T&D helps your company on so many levels. When you help a Network Engineer get professional certification, for example, you’re building loyalty and commitment. T&D also helps with succession planning — and promoting from within instills loyalty in the employee promoted and sends a positive message to other employees. Your T&D program also becomes a recruiting tool, enhancing your employment branding.

To wrap up this series, vacancies are expensive, and you need to ensure your recruitment process is efficient and fast. Clarify goals, ensure all involved in the onboarding process are on the same page, and make recruitment a priority like any other business objective. Best strategy: implement a retention strategy that ensures your people would never think of leaving to go somewhere else.

Connect with Loren on LinkedIn.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!


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