Looking at my last two posts, I felt I’ve been persistently critical of others. Figured I’d walk the talk. So, here it is, an entire article on the necessity of filling in vacant positions in a company, rewritten. I’m not sure I should mention the exact URL of the original, but of course, if you really want to compare, it should be easy enough with Big G around 😉
It’s not too different from forming a habit – persist for 21 days and something becomes a part of your life. Do nothing to fill vacant positions and you eventually accept the consequences as part of your professional life. Employees get used to working in an environment less than conducive to efficient performance. Managers decide to ignore the fact that those positions exist for a reason.And everyone gets used to a permanently lowered performance benchmark.
This problem is common mostly because the damage that it causes is not invariably or instantly apparent. Let’s look at some of the ways positions left vacant could be pulling your business into a downward spiral.
This is the most obvious consequence of not filling vacant positions timely.
A well-researched article indicates that too many hours at work do take their toll on employees and the respective companies do not benefit either.
Another study shows that American employees are already overworked. Thankfully, it also concludes that
Highly engaged workers who log well over 40 hours will still have better overall well-being than actively disengaged workers who clock out at 40 hours. In other words, hours worked matters, but it’s not all that matters.
That is to say, give your employees work they enjoy doing, and a friendly work environment and they will perform efficiently without burnout even when there is a high workload. Are you capable of doing that?
Are you capable of doing that?
If positions are vacant, they should be filled. Alternatively, an evaluation ought to be carried out to ascertain whether the organization can function well enough without those positions in the first place. If your organization is not taking either of the steps, it is probably not efficient enough to provide employees with engaging work and work environment.
Consequently, there is every chance that your employees are burning out and not functioning near peak efficiency.
Following our earlier point, if individuals in your workforce are qualified enough to seek employment elsewhere, you could be facing a bad turnover rate in the near future.
This document clearly demonstrates the correlation between what we have just discussed. It also emphasizes upon the facts that recruiting new talent can be time-consuming, expensive and in any case, experience cannot always be replaced.
It is important to understand what is really going on here
Most employees who are otherwise happy with their company will willingly put in extra hours when required. Even without citing any research, we can safely presume that many of them will feel a certain degree of satisfaction at having achieved something out of the hard work they put in.
However, when this work beyond their job description becomes routine, these same people will likely feel taken advantage of, tired, and caught in a loop of never-ending extra hours. The resentment builds up at all levels because even the managers are affected by the absence of an optimal workforce.
The attrition here is directly related to bad work culture of the company as a whole than to the presence of any proverbial bad boss. It should not come as a surprise if more than a few of the ‘
bad bosses’ choose to take the route of their subordinates and become part of the turnover rate, eventually.
The takeaway so far: if you are not filling vacant positions, you could soon be facing with a greater number of them.
Loss of credibility
Like we mentioned, it is not always possible to replace experience. In any case, when people are working outside of their job description, they are doing something they are (at least, theoretically) working without the requisite skill set. And there’s the perpetually looming deadlines because you are always shorthanded.
What kind of business produces its best work under such circumstances? And what kind of consumer doesn’t notice subpar services? When they do, you are not likely to remain among their priorities.
Reduction in sales and business referrals
Word of mouth referral is still an extremely important part of customer acquisition. According to Nilan Peiris, VP, Transferwise, a peer-to-peer money transfer platform which is used by customers to send $750m a month, “Currently more than 60% of our new customers hear about us first from a friend, family member, or acquaintance.”
How do you suppose unsatisfied clients are going to speak about your business?
The takeaway: Let vacant positions lie if you’re looking after your competitors’ interests.
If the turnover rate reaches a critical point, you will be forced to either layoff or recruit. Again, even without citing studies, it is possible to conclude that your performance is hindered when you are forced to do something. And this is different from performing under the kind of stress that can actually make you even more productive. In any case, layoffs are a short-term fix and usually found to be detrimental to the company.
If you are hiring in a hurry, you may not be able to find the best candidates for the job. More importantly, however, if your company’s reputation has suffered enough (owing to both negative word of mouth publicity and social media), the best candidates may not even apply.
The original article, written in July 2016, references a 2012 study to show that hiring in a hurry is the most important reason behind bad hires. A more recent study in August 2015 by the Brandon Hall Group does not even mention anything like that. I was, thus, forced to recreate (not just rewrite) the entire sub-section.
Also, the original article makes no reference to layoffs as a possible consequence of a high turnover rate which they often are. I felt compelled to add that bit about layoffs to make the article look well-researched.
Your head count budget may suffer – or, worse …
If your department is functioning with a high number of vacancies for too long, senior decision makers may feel that those positions are redundant. They can curtail your budget.
Another possibility is that they might notice you are not functioning optimally, and ask you what is going on if you are in a managerial position.
You wouldn’t want to look forward to either scenario, we imagine.
NOTE: The second possibility wasn’t mentioned in the original article.
Fixing the problem of vacant positions in business
It isn’t rocket science, really. All you need is to acknowledge that this problem can and should be fixed. And the rest ought to follow naturally.
Meet & Plan
A significant reason behind vacancies being left… well, vacant, has to be a lack of communication and planning.
If you are meeting with the persons concerned with recruitment or whichever department is the most pertinent in your set up, you are staying updated, and in a position to take decisive action.
If you are the person concerned, you could make it a part of your job to take vacancies and head count into account. Not a priority, mind you, just a part of your job. Much like brushing your teeth every morning is a part of your life. You don’t have to do this everyday, obviously, but making it a part of your schedule puts it where it belongs, so that you can give it the time it deserves. That way, it is very unlikely to stay unnoticed or unaddressed for too long.
Prevention is better than exit
That is to say, Stay Interviews are more productive than Exit Interviews.
And your exit interviews (assuming you are using them) are probably doing you no good if people are still leaving. And in this context, they are leaving because you are too busy to fill your vacancies, to begin with.
Instead, if you conduct stay interviews (again, as part of your job), you will be aware of possible problems before they reach critical mass. In this case, you will be reminded that vacancies exist and that they need to be filled or they will continue to affect performance.
If you combine stay interviews with (well deserved) surprise positive performance reviews, employee morale will likely remain high. Appreciation always works, especially when it is deserved.
How often should you hold stay interviews?
The 2015 Gallup study concludes that 51% employees are looking for new jobs and almost 60% say that the reason they consider a new job or accept one is that it allows them to do what they do best.
And the Indeed Study reveals a rather scary finding for employers: “65% of people look at new jobs again within 91 days of being hired”.
Based on the two studies and what we have already observed, you should probably consider stay interviews along with performance appraisals. How often should you appraise performance? Well, that depends entirely upon how your organization functions and is beyond the scope of the present article.
Speed up hiring
One reason for persisting vacancies could be that your hiring process is to too complicated. Consequently, the act of hiring keeps taking a backseat because of the hassles involved.
You can reevaluate the process and that should prove beneficial in both prevention and cure. Vacancies would not remain ignored for too long and, when for some reason they do, you can fill them with suitable candidates very fast.
The following measures could prove effective in speeding up the hiring process
There is too much to be said for and against internal recruitment for us to take a definite stand against hiring external candidates. However, since we are talking about remedial measures to fix a problem, internal recruiting can be a viable measure to speed up the hiring process.
There is no point in quoting statistics in this case, since you’d be the best judge of how your employees are likely to function in such a scenario. Which leads us to a more interesting point – that you should, in any case, evaluate this aspect – just might come in handy in the long run and not just as a quick fix.
NOTE: The original article cites extremely old data to prove internal recruitment is good; it doesn’t go into the cons, doesn’t present a balanced view. I had to rephrase the entire point.
You are trying to give someone an opportunity to work for your company. Do they need the job so badly that they will come at any time you ask them to? Frequently, the best candidates will not.
If you consider options like off-site interviews during off hours or even video interviews, things could be streamlined without sacrificing quality. This approach will also impress and interest your prospective employees. And yes, if you are looking to recruit someone good, you will have to show them that you deserve them.
Hire unemployed candidates
We did stress upon experience earlier, and not all positions can be filled by candidates for whom this is going to be the first job of their life, but don’t adopt a policy to recruit only existing job holders.
In any case, there could be individuals currently unemployed but with a good track record. In other words, if you focus only on hiring quality instead of on anything else, and if your interview process is sound, you might be able to spot a few gems or, at least, diamonds in the rough that might have never reached your doorstep with a more stringent hiring policy in place.
Even if you do not have vacancies that are affecting your bottom line currently, you should never really take your eyes off talent acquisition. And with a sound hiring policy in place, you would be less likely to face a crisis. If your company cannot afford to have a department solely to focus on hiring, it does make sense to invest in an external agency that will take care of it for you. Ultimately, it is about ROI, and more often than not, a streamlined, zero-hassle hiring process in place leads to excellent returns on your investment.
Reasons for the rewrite
Not properly edited
Will not quote examples.
Irrelevant, outdated or downright misleading data cited
This link is cited to prove that slow burner syndrome is one of the common causes of employee turnover. I implore my readers to please locate that finding in the source document and leave a comment so that I may see it too.
This link is cited to prove that word of mouth referral is good. It uses a blurred image of a bar chart to illustrate the stats and never cites the actual study but mentions it.
This study from the end of 2012 is cited to prove that “rushing the selection and decision making process is the most common reason that bad hires are made”. The Brandon Hall study from 2015 mentions no such thing.
Links to a Huffpost article to show that “A ‘stay interview’ is a modern staff retention tool promoted by the Society for Human Resource Management…”. The Huffpost article has zero citation on the matter.
Cites a study from 2012 to prove “that jobs search activity peaks just after Christmas”. I had to cite two more recent and relevant studies for the subhead, ‘How often should you hold stay interviews?’, instead, especially since I could find not such statistics in either 2015 or 2016.
Cites a 2012 article based on a research that “analyzed personnel data from a U.S. investment banking division from 2003 to 2009” to prove that internal hires are the best option for a business.
And quite a few anchor texts are leaking link juice all over the place.
I was a little curious as to why the author has constantly used outdated and irrelevant data, and made a Google search for the relevant terms. Found the author’s favorite articles coming up at the top of the search results.
How did I find the proper stats? Took my time forming queries and appended “2016” to them. Shortcuts don’t work if you are trying to write an authoritative article.
For some mysterious reason, the title of the article is hyperlinked to the URL where the article appears. If this is a secret trick to enhance SEO, well, no one else that I know as an expert is using it.
The author uses six points (I turned one of them into a sub-point) to illustrate why not filling vacancies is bad, and he puts all of those six points in blockquotes with H4 tags for headings! (Read about how to use blockquotes properly )
And ‘Fixing the Problem’ part begins with H3 and continues with H4. Looks like the author has a distinct apathy for H2 tags. (Read more about proper use of Header tags in WordPress).
The ‘Speed up Hiring’ section has its subsections in blockquote, again, and this time, the headings are a combination of <em> and <strong> tags.
Frankly, I’ve never, ever come across such weird markup.
Okay, enough bitching and snitching. The whole point was to see if I could create a better article and I believe I have. Feel free to leave comments if you feel I haven’t. Other comments are also welcome, of course 🙂