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What a great question!  Even in a market with an abundance of candidates,  it takes time to hire the right employee.  but in today’s candidate short market, the time it takes to just find candidates to hire has dramatically increased.   Some hiring campaigns can take double the time they took just 2-3 years ago, significantly impacting the team’s ability to get work done, to accomplish its goals.

We know your pain – we hear it from clients who have waited too long to ask for our help after a job has gone unfilled long after anyone  anticipated.   2-3 years ago, an unfilled  job was not a big deal.  In today’s business environment, most teams are busy enough that being short even by one employee, can have significant impact.

Not only is there increased pressure on each team member to pick up the pieces, but there are the additional costs of overtime, or team morale to deal with.  If that “waiting to hire” period is extended too long, frustrated and over worked employees can become targets for competitive recruiters.  Being short staffed often goes beyond a tarnished reputation, to turn into actual lost customers.  Bottom-line, managing all the issues that can grow out of being “short staffed” is never fun for managers or their team, and in today’s market, the solution doesn’t always come quickly.

Here are some ways we’ve seen successful managers do to deal with current market challenges, the reality that you are likely going to be short staffed from time to time if you stay committed to “hiring right.”

Get ahead of your hiring needs as quickly as possible.

If you know you have one or two people on your team that don’t quite measure up, notify your recruiters of potential openings before its time to terminate and replace.  In today’s market and particularly in high turnover job categories, we recommend managers continually “pipeline” for potential talent.

Partnering with a recruiter who is willing to help you build and maintain those talent pipelines is critical.   In the areas of your company where there are ongoing productivity or customer contact requirements, we recommend customers consider a strategic staffing model where they keep a component of their workforce in an “auditioning” mode, ready to be hired,  at all times.

Consider hiring one or more temporary or interim employees to help your team get through the rough spots.

Sometimes a “temp” can provide the extra arms and legs your team needs just to keep their head above water.  Providing your team with extra help when they are “transitioning” shows your commitment to their well being through a hiring process.

Consider re-engineering the work.

If the work you need done is so unique or complicated that there are few to no candidates in the marketplace prepared to step into the role as you have defined it, consider the possibility it may be time to re-engineer work flow.  We all know that over time, higher level administrative or professional employees end up doing clerical work which would be better assigned elsewhere.  Being under staffed can be an opportunity to re-engineer how work gets done by permanently delegating work differently as a way to improve overall productivity.

Keep in mind the more skills you require of the candidate, the longer it’s going to take to find and hire the right employee.  Re-engineering work also provides your existing employees with more ways to leverage their specialized talent.

Make sure everyone on your team knows (is reminded of) the long term benefit of your commitment to “hire right”.

Let them know up front the realities of the current candidate market, and remind them of what will happen if you bring in the wrong person.  Provide them with your best guess as to how long it is going to take for you to find an employee who will move the team forward and keep them posted.  Bottom-line, don’t assume they know why it’s taking you so long to hire.  Get their buy-in to your hiring approach.

Provide short term rewards for individual employees who are most impacted by being short staffed….., or the entire team, if the extra work is equally spread.

Rewards can range from a bonus, to a team activity they would all enjoy, to some time-off when the new hire is up and running.

Hiring right and hiring quickly are important goals, but in today’s marketplace these goals can’t always be achieved together.  We encourage our clients to get prepared for the realities of today’s candidate short marketplace and have a plan in place to minimize impact.  If you have questions about the availability of certain types of candidates in the current marketplace, ask our Partnership Development team for help to better understand the current marketplace and candidate availability.  They can help you plan for the length of time it takes to hire right, plus offer ideas for you to get through the hiring process without overly impacting your current team.  Strategies that focus on preparing for issues, rather than reacting to them, are always the preferred solutions.

Jeanne Knutzen


This article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network, a leading Northwest staffing company who has been helping  local employers find and hire high talent employees for over 40 years.  For additional ideas and information on how you can tackle the current marketplace in terms of temporary, contract or permanent employment solutions – contact the PACE team at 425-637-3312 or email us at  infodesk@pacestaffing.com[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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