Staffing Management

How High a Priority Is Time-to-Fill When Filling Vacant Positions?

By Staff Report

Jul. 17, 2012

Dear Quality Not Quantity:

Well-managed organizations, in health care and elsewhere, pay attention to the time it takes to fill open positions. But the importance of this metric falls far, far behind the importance of filling each position with the best person available.

We can guarantee that no patient in your hospital has ever said anything such as, “I was so impressed—the nurse who cared for me accepted his position after it had been vacant for only 3.4 weeks.” Patients instead judge their health care experience on the basis of the quality of care rendered by skilled and committed professionals. No health care provider can afford to promote time-to-fill over the more critical factors of finding the best talent and the right “fit” for the job and the organization.

Ask your employees which they would prefer: a) to fill open positions with less than the best or b) to work a little harder for a little longer until the right person can be found. We suspect that we—and you—know the answer.

Time-to-fill is, however, a telling statistic—not so much as a measure of the firepower of your human resources department, but as an indicator of the organization’s reputation as an employer.

Hospitals with well-founded reputations as employers of choice—Griffin Hospital in Derby, Connecticut, and East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, for example—experience significantly lower employee turnover and time-to-fill statistics than do other providers in their respective areas.

Time-to-fill is useful for determining how effectively leadership, at all levels, is distinguishing your organization as a great place to work. A culture of leadership, appreciation, reward and high standards goes a long way toward attracting top talent.

A time-to-fill measurement is rarely useful in isolation. It can be valuable, though, to track year-over-year variations in the metric, as well as in some cases to make comparisons among departments within an organization. If your time-to-fill is increasing measurably from year to year, or if it varies widely among departments, it may suggest a need to investigate the underlying causes.

It is vitally important to bear in mind that it is not the exclusive responsibility of human resources to recruit talent. It’s the job of every leader, from first-line supervisors to CEO, to be out there beating the bushes every day for talented, committed people. When you do that, and create a great place to work, you’ll see your time-to-fill stats drop like the cholesterol of a patient on the latest statin drug.

SOURCE: Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette, co-authors, Contented Cows Give Better Milk, Jacksonville, Florida

LEARN MORE: Read how using verifiable data can help your organization improve recruiting.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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