Keep the Machine Running

Interim professionals can fill open positions during permanent replacement searches

By Mark Viner

In some sectors, we are at the lowest unemployment levels in about 50 years. Deciphering the exact percentages for certain fields is difficult because the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics measures unemployment by the total number of people in the workforce.

In 2016, the overall unemployment rate ranged between 4.6 percent and 5 percent, which made for the lowest one-year range since 2001 and among the lowest since the mid-1970s. However, some areas during the past three years or so are believed to be far less than overall. Four of these areas include experienced (at least eight years’ experience) positions in accounting, finance, human resources and information technology. Most employers believe unemployment for those positions is less than 1 percent.

Operating a company during periods of extremely low unemployment in critical departments can be challenging. When an employee in an important position leaves a company during periods of low unemployment, it can take three months or longer to find the right replacement. Meanwhile, the company can suffer a lack of production from the empty seat and/or subject the remaining employees to additional workload and stress until a replacement is hired.

One way companies address the challenge of an open position is by hiring dedicated interim professionals to fill the job while the permanent search takes place. There is a meaningful collection of experienced workers—particularly within the accounting, finance, HR and IT sectors—who choose to do interim work on a full-time basis. Typically, they are employees of professional search and staffing firms who focus their talents on helping clients manage the change of an employee departure.

Using dedicated project professionals to fill open positions also means companies don’t have to rush permanent hires, allowing them to stay focused in the recruiting process. Often, companies that rush their hires make bad choices that complicate their circumstances. Bad hires not only are costly to employers, but they also can lengthen the duration of stress and increased workload on the remaining staff. This can hurt morale and cause inefficiency in production—and possibly more 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 frustrating. Fortunately, businesses have a cost-effective solution to navigate these rough waters and help ensure the machine keeps running.

Mark Viner is president of the interim resources division for StevenDouglas. Contact him at or 954.385.8595.

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