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Outsourced interim help gives your school time to take a breath, understand your staffing needs, and thoughtfully pursue the ideal candidate.

Employer strategies

Slow Down and Assess Needs Before Hiring A New Higher Education Employee

  • Chrissy Bowman
  • 5/11/2016

As a higher education employer, you don’t need to be told what a headache even one job vacancy is at your institution. The loss of a single good employee can wreak havoc in a department, and the urgency of replacing that employee is often met by a long and cumbersome hiring process, sorting through hundreds of résumés and applications before you even get to the first round of interviews. 

By the time you extend an offer (sometimes in haste, admittedly, to a less-than-ideal candidate) and start onboarding and initial training, the impact of that one absence has already done its worst, both operationally and financially. 

It doesn’t have to go this way. Many of the schools and institutions that I work with are now approaching this more thoughtfully and slowly: They are bringing in temporary, outsourced help while they take a breath, assess their staffing needs, and pursue the right person for the job. 

Here’s why this approach might benefit you, too. 

Ease the strain on your staff and manage risk 

Institutions will often choose to leave an absence unfilled and spread the work around to remaining departmental employees, but the added burden can be an efficiency and morale killer. Depending on your organization’s business cycle, there may be times of the year that you can get away with this, and then there are times when it will simply overwhelm your people or increase certain risks. 

Let’s say your accounting staff are preparing for the annual audit. Is this really the right time to pile on additional reconciliation responsibilities? And what about the potential for fraud or the consequences of incompetence? Parceling out duties above pay grades and experience levels, or sidestepping checks that were previously in place, could expose you to risks that cost thousands to correct and take an immeasurable toll on your reputation. 

Instead, an outsourced professional who fills in during the interim can keep your department running smoothly and lift undue burden from your people’s backs. A qualified temporary professional can also shoulder the check-and-balance role so critical to risk management protocols. Then, while your operations keep humming at the normal pace, you can take time to conscientiously craft a job description for the open position and recruit and hire the most qualified candidate. 

Alleviate hiring and onboarding costs 

Studies show that it costs 90 to 200 percent of a position’s annual pay, and anywhere from four to 26 weeks in time, to bring a new hire up to speed and fully functioning in his or her new job. Some of these expenses are soft costs that aren’t necessarily tracked and are often overlooked, such as the loss of other employees’ productivity, overtime, or diversion of duties while covering for the absence. Other expenses are more obvious, like advertising and training. 

Temporary help can be expensive, too. But outsourced professionals usually possess high levels of practical knowledge and invaluable experience, and you don’t have to pay their benefit costs. Plus, they can oversee or assist with recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training the permanent talent you’re ultimately seeking. This can make your new hire transition go much faster and more efficiently, chopping significant time and expense off the studies’ figures. Outsourced professionals can search dispassionately for candidates to fill the role they are temporarily occupying. They will have keen insight on what it takes to do it; for this reason, they can help identify excellent replacements. 

Bonus: advance planning and training 

With an outsourced professional onboard for the short-term, you can use the stability to evaluate key positions in your department and determine whether individuals are appropriately cross-trained. In the event of another employee departure, they’ll be ready to absorb the impact with less strain and expense. 

Think of this as a disaster recovery plan for your department. Then take advantage of your outsourced individual’s considerable experience and access to training resources to execute the advance plan and equip your people with the skills and exposure they need. 

How we can help 

CLA provides scalable outsourced services for higher education finance, accounting, reporting, audit, risk, compliance, technology, tax, human resources, and executive search. We can fulfill a variety of business operations roles and provide the data and reporting you need to successfully manage and grow your organization. We can also train your staff to fill a variety of roles or perform a litany of important operational and finance duties.