The average time it takes to fill a position has risen by 62 per cent between 2010 and 2015, according to CEB research, which found that average time to hire currently stands at 68 days – or 26 business days longer to fill a position than it did in 2010.
“Organisations need to think carefully about the implications of slow hiring,” said Samantha Hickey, talent practice director, CEB.
“Not only do they run the risk of losing their top candidates to competitors, but they must also take into account the loss of productivity and engagement with other staff members.”
“The increased time spent in the hiring process doesn’t result in any meaningful increase in quality of hire once the breakpoint of around 31 days is reached”
Slow hiring not only means the business risks missing out on top talent but they must also consider the immediate cost to the business, according to CEB’s Accelerating Recruitment report.
“The knock-on effect of having an open position puts pressure and stress on colleagues who not only have to pick up the additional work, but also rely on this position to help them do their job effectively,” said Hickey.
“This can lead to burnout and reduced job satisfaction as employees try to compensate for the missing team member.”
HR and the high cost of open roles
The research report round the average vacancy cost equates to upwards of $500 a day per open position.
When compared to the average organisation’s time to fill, it amounts to a loss of over $34,000 in lost productivity and recruiting costs within the 68 day time period.
In addition, Hickey said there are immediate and very tangible implications, and some that are not as obvious but equally damaging to an organisation.
“It is likely that some of the strongest applicants will be considering multiple offers, and the longer businesses take in decision-making, the greater the risk of losing them,” said Hickey.
“The direct loss of productivity in the vacant role is another very clear and immediate sunken cost, as is using temporary staffing arrangements.”
“Recruiters at organisations with streamlined hiring workflows have nearly half the average time to fill of those with complex hiring workflows”
Equally problematic for business (though the effects are not always as obvious) is the impact on the immediate team around the vacant role.
“Work between peers is today so much more interdependent and connected; burnout and disengagement are common in team members as a result of the additional stretch and workload they take on to compensate for the loss of productivity in open positions,” she said.
“All too often slow hiring times are combined with higher levels of turnover, which quickly becomes a vicious cycle for teams, line managers and HR, and amounts to vast recruiting costs if not addressed quickly.”
Hickey also pointed out that there is a common misconception that longer hiring times are the trade-off for better hiring decision.
“Our research shows that the increased time spent in the hiring process doesn’t result in any meaningful increase in quality of hire once the breakpoint of around 31 days is reached – given the average time to fill is 63 days there is approximately a month of time over and above the breakpoint that is just not giving meaningful ROI in terms of quality of hire.”
3 steps for HR in speeding up time to hire
HR leadership can significantly improve the time to fill by changing their approach in three areas, according to Hickey.
Firstly, it’s critical that organisations better align recruiting resources with business priorities. “Ensuring that recruitment resources support the most important areas of the business, based on a strong understanding of the business strategy and expectations is critical,” she said.
“So for instance, if specific business units or divisions are expected to switch into growth mode over in the next 6-12 months, recruitment resources should be planned and allocated accordingly.”
In this way, she said the recruitment team can get ahead of the curve by identifying where talent demands will be greatest and ensure that priority is given to critical roles that will have the most impact on business performance.
“This requires HR leadership to develop a strong understanding of the links between business strategy, talent strategy and the implications these will have on the demand for recruitment support,” Hickey said.
“They must also take into account the loss of productivity and engagement with other staff members”
Secondly, streamlining hiring workflows results in significant gains in speed, which in turn can save the average organisation thousands of dollars per hire.
“Our research shows that four out of five recruiters struggle to work through additional stakeholders, technologies and regulations adopted to help execute the hiring process,” said Hickey.
“We know that often selection processes grow organically over time and don’t get examined from a more holistic perspective.
“Organisations can make significant gains through identifying and removing hidden process inefficiencies to reduce the complexity of the recruiting process.”
This involves stepping back and really challenging the value of each stage of the process and ensuring that only the critical and most effective elements are retained.
“We can see from our work that recruiters at organisations with streamlined hiring workflows have nearly half the average time to fill of those with complex hiring workflows,” said Hickey.
“Four out of five recruiters struggle to work through additional stakeholders, technologies and regulations adopted to help execute the hiring process”
Finally, hiring managers are taking 44 per cent longer in their decision-making compared to five years ago, particularly where it’s a new position or where new skills are involved for the role.
In order to accelerate the hiring process, Hickey said HR needs to think about how to shift from just giving hiring managers and stakeholders more information, to shaping decision making by limiting and better organising information and how they engage stakeholders.
“This can be as simple as ensuring candidate data is batched and shared with hiring managers in a structured way, to analysing which stakeholders are critical to decision-making and ensuring that they are involved in the correct stage of the hiring process,” said Hickey.
“For example, it may be more appropriate to involve some stakeholders at the needs analysis stage rather than at the hiring decision stage.”
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