Why That Open Position Might Just Be Ruining Your Team

By Aimee Wera
Posted On 7/24/18

Every manager knows that an open position results in losing valuable time and money. However, when it comes to the trickle-down effects of this on fellow team members, many turn a blind eye to whats really happening.

While some employees may fool you and appear unaffected by the open position, the reality could be that the open position is creating more dysfunction than what meets the eye. With rising stress levels, an increasing workload, and a gap in skills, your open position could cost you much more than your team’s productivity.

Increase In Work Stress

Don’t underestimate the power of stress, especially in a work environment. With 80% of workers feeling a high level of stress on the job, that open position will only add to this. The added work and stress within the team may not only derail their productivity, but could spill out into their personal life impacting their health, and well-being.

We all know that stress is bad for us, and if work becomes the cause, many people will disconnect and begin to look elsewhere for employment. At first this will not be obvious, and in fact, it could seem that the group is running perfectly despite the opening(s). Employees generally try to be loyal and support the company they work for, but there is a limit.

All of these factors may lead to employees calling out sick at work. According to the American Institute of Stress, 1 million U.S. employees miss work each day due to workplace stress. To put this in perspective this would be similar to losing about $602 per employee for each day they are absent. That number could climb significantly for highly skilled individuals.

Redistribution Of Skills

While the impact of an opening may vary from the size of each team, an open position can begin to cause panic when the skills gap becomes too large. For example, if there is an open position in a team of 2-3 people that team is missing a whopping 33% of its capabilities. Where does that additional workload go? Right on the shoulders of the other 2 team members.

Although the impact on a particular team may not be as drastic as the example above even on a team of 4-5 an open position creates a 20-25% skills gap and redistribution of work to other members. It may not be too far off to think that with that a prolonged lack of capability within the teamwork will cause progress and productivity to drop.

Behold “The Domino Effect”

Employees can only take so much before they choose a different direction. Remember, as humans, we find safety in numbers, but what happens when the strongest player on the team leaves? Management may move too slowly to assess the situation, and assume the other team members are ok. Being aware of how long the position remains open is also part of the equation.

An open position, especially at the senior level lasting beyond 60 days is bound to cause a domino effect among members. With one domino falling when a team member leaves, a larger gap emerges. This growing gap could influence turnover, leaving fewer members behind, thinking “it’s time to get out before it’s too late.”

Again, this will not be obvious at first but it will start with your employees “taking a look at the market” just in case. Given the skills shortage across all vertical markets today, it is easier than you think for an employee in a troubled group to be lured away.

Looking Ahead

When viewing an open position, management traditionally would rather keep the job open then call an outside recruiter to fill it quickly. As Talent Acquisition experts we understand the political nature of paying fees. However, management must also take the time to properly asses how team members are affected by an open position.

While team members may do their best to make up for the skills gap, the stress and pressure may push them to the edge. Ultimately, a domino effect could emerge and cost the company much more than productivity. Given that a companies’ greatest asset is their people, the cost of working with a recruiter is negligible compared to the potential of having more openings or the opportunity cost of missing deliverables. Food for thought?

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