Keep the Machine Running

Published:03/21/2017 | Posted by Mark Viner

How companies are utilizing interim professionals to backfill open positions while permanent replacement searches take place.

In some sectors, we are at the lowest unemployment levels our economy has seen in about 50 years. Deciphering the exact percentages for certain employment areas is difficult as the percentages the Bureau of Labor releases represent unemployment as measured by the total number of people in the labor force. The overall U.S. unemployment rate for 2016 ranged between 4.6% and 5.0% which made for the lowest unemployment range for a year since 2001 and among the lowest since the mid-1970’s. However, certain areas of employment for about the past three years are believed to have far less unemployment percentages than these all-encompassing stated unemployment rates. Four of these areas include experienced positions at companies within Accounting, Finance, HR and IT (i.e. positions requiring at least eight years of experience), which are widely believed by most employers to be at an unemployment rate of less than 1%.

Operating a company during a period of extreme low unemployment in certain critical departments can be very challenging. Reason being, when an employee in an important position chooses to leave a company during a period of low unemployment, it might take that employer upwards of three or more months in certain cases to find the right on-point replacement. During this period of time, the company can suffer a lack of production from the empty seat and/or cause additional workload and stress on the remaining staff who are covering the responsibilities of the open chair until the time a replacement employee is identified and starts with the company.

One way companies are creatively addressing the challenge of navigating the uncovered responsibilities of an open position is bringing on a dedicated interim professional to backfill the open position while the permanent search takes place. There is a meaningful demographic of experienced professionals, particularly within the Accounting, Finance, HR and IT sectors who choose the challenge of doing interim work for clients on a full-time basis. They elect an alternative career path…to become a dedicated interim and project professional. Typically, these individuals are employees of firms in this arena (i.e., search and professional staffing firms) who deploy this focused talent to their clients to help them manage change. In this case, the company’s change is navigating the rough waters caused by an employee departure.

Utilizing a dedicated project professional to backfill an open position also allows the company to not rush the permanent hire and stay focused in the recruiting process to ensure they are hiring the best talent that can be identified. Very often, without a solution to cover the responsibilities of an open position, companies make the mistake of rushing the hire and make a bad hire which generally only complicates the situation. As has been proved through history, making a bad hire can not only be costly to the employer, it can also lengthen the time of stress and increased workload taken on by the remaining staff. This can cause a decrease in morale, inefficiency in production and possible additional employee departures.

Hiring employees in key departments during a period of low unemployment can be challenging and time consuming. Losing employees during periods of low unemployment can be even more frustrating. Thankfully, there is a cost effective solution to navigate these rough waters to help ensure the machine keeps running!

Mark Viner is President, Interim Division at StevenDouglas and can be reached at [email protected].

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