You Should Understand the Cost of Vacancy for Key Roles

A finance executive thinks about retention at his organization.

As a finance leader, you should work with your HR counterparts to know the cost of vacancy for key roles.

Short supplies of skilled talent weigh heavy on the minds of executive leaders, according to the ADP Research Institute report, Strategic Drift: How HR Plans for Change. As a finance leader, knowing the cost of vacancy for key roles should be a priority to fully understand which vacancies might lead to the highest costs.

Ask your HR leadership to embrace analytics and predictive techniques so you can not only determine your vacancy costs now, but also forecast what they might be down the line.

Establish the Cost of Vacancy

What data points do you need to consider when determining these key roles? What strategies can help you track vacancies in those key roles over time?

According to Tata Consultancy Services, new opportunities from predictive analytics can apply well to such HR processes as talent acquisition, attrition risk management and employee sentiment analysis. Analytics can also help you retain, train and engage your executive talent as well as tell you on whom retention tactics are likely to work.

First, estimate the risk of losing specific individual employees — including senior staff — using predictive models of attrition. You can look at such information as demographics of employees, data on performance compensation and benefits, rewards and recognition data, training and behavioral data and employee surveys. One common formula for employees in general is a simple calculation of input vs. output, dividing your return by the number of employees.

You should work with HR to devise a calculation for at least a generalized view of the value of your most important employees and the possible costs incurred to your firm should they leave. This is where having integrated payroll and TLM systems can give you a marked advantage over competition: The more readily accessible and specific your workforce data is, the better your employee valuations will be.

Data can include senior staff demographics, skills, educational background, experience and information on roles and responsibilities. You can gather this information from individual discussions with senior executives, focus group discussions and demographic data on previously lost employees.

Other tools could include algorithmic examination of the language your senior staff uses. "Algorithmically examining the language people use (or don't use) when they communicate (or don't communicate) about the work they are doing (or not doing) can be extraordinarily revealing," notes the Harvard Business Review.

Preventive steps

The best tactics against cost losses of key personnel: retention and effective recruiting.

Expert Dan Schawbel says that the improving economy opens employees' job options: Organizations must match these opportunities with more pay, expanded benefits and an overall better staffer experience. You can get an idea of what your valued employees expect to be paid from such sites the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career mobility is also a method of engaging and keeping valued employees. Support your employee if he or she asks to change departments or overall tasks, and let your entire organization know about ongoing projects and invite staffers from all departments to contribute.

According to a survey from Ernst & Young, after-hours emails and work texts are intensifying most workers' desire for better work-life balance and flexible work schedules. Surveyed workers biggest desires that you can consider: paid parental leave; onsite or subsidized child care; and the ability to telecommute one or two days a week.

The better the candidate, the smoother your recruiting, too. Good ways to streamline recruiting include avoiding reliance on job boards and walk-in candidates and instead take the time to with placement offices at local colleges, as well as with recruiters and executive search firms.

Your current staff can also help via their professional associations and conferences they attend — not to mention recruiting in-house is often successful — and you should monitor online job boards for candidates.

Losing a senior staffer costs your organization dearly both now and in the future. By planning ahead and taking steps to retain your most-valued staffers, you should be able to develop the means to hold on to your best and brightest.