Is It Time to Hire? These 3 Signs Could Spell ‘Yes’

A very busy office, indicating it may be time to hire

Job growth in the United States made a big rebound in June, following a lackluster jobs report in May that took analysts by surprise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. employers added 287,000 positions last month. Revised numbers for April and May show that 6,000 fewer jobs were added than previously reported. Since the start of the year, employers have created about 1 million new positions. Job gains have averaged 171,500 per month in 2016.

The following industries were among the biggest drivers of job growth in June:

  • Education and health services added 59,000 jobs. Within this sector, healthcare employment increased by 39,000.
  • Employment in the information sector grew by 44,000 in June. According to the BLS, a good portion of these job gains can be attributed to telecommunications workers returning from a strike.
  • Professional and business services grew by 38,000 jobs. 

Unemployment remains low

The June jobs report also indicated that the national unemployment rate increased to 4.9 percent. It was 4.7 percent in May, which was the lowest level since November 2007. 

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for workers who are 25 or older and have a college degree also ticked up slightly in June to 2.5 percent after reaching an eight-year low of 2.4 percent in April and May. The unemployment rate for this group of workers has been significantly below the national figure for a long time now, a trend that indicates candidates who have completed higher education are hard to find and recruit.

Employers still face hiring challenges

Even though there has been some ebb and flow in U.S. job growth during the first six months of the year, the general trend has been positive. Conditions remain challenging for employers looking to hire.

According to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover report from the BLS, there were 5.8 million open jobs in April. That’s a record high. 

Research by our company indicates that more hiring may be on the horizon. Executives in many industries are eyeing the second half of 2016 as a time to hire. For example:

Many employers are finding that the hiring process takes longer than they’d like, however. CFOs polled for a recent Robert Half survey said it takes four weeks, on average, to fill an open staff-level accounting or finance position. It takes five weeks to hire for a management-level role. 

Knowing when it's time to hire

Given these challenges, you might be inclined to hold off on hiring to avoid the hassle of a protracted candidate search. Your goal might be to ride things out with your existing team until hiring challenges ease or you can devote more time and energy to the hiring process.

Let me warn you, though: For the health of your business — and the well-being of your current team — that might not be the best decision. The fact is, when it’s time to hire, it’s time to hire. 

Look for these three telltale signs that your employees are in need of more support:

Time to hire sign #1. You just landed a plum account, and no one celebrated (in fact, they groaned)

Business growth is supposed to be a good thing. If your employees meet the news of an exciting opportunity for the firm with trepidation, or even resentment, it’s a huge red flag signaling that it’s time to hire. 

Overworked staff members are not likely to view a new account — especially an important one that requires them to meet even higher expectations — as a positive development. Instead, they see it only as additional work they will need to heap on to their already full plates.

Time to hire sign #2. Mistakes are on the rise — and so are client complaints

No one is perfect, of course. But lately, your employees have been downright error-prone. Worse, some mistakes weren’t caught in time, leading to embarrassment for your firm and big apologies to affected customers. Perhaps the level of service from your business is also on the decline — and clients are noticing that, too. 

All of the above conditions suggest that it’s time to hire. Your staff members are stretched way too thin. They are so focused on just trying to meet deadlines or respond to business demands that they have little or no time to ensure they’re delivering high-quality work or service. That’s a dangerous position for your business to be in.

Time to hire sign #3. Your MVPs are striking out, while other employees aren’t even showing up

When your top performers begin to falter and start making mistakes, it could be the biggest sign of all that it’s time to hire. You lean hard on your heavy hitters because they’ve proven they can take the heat. But too much heat will eventually lead to burnout — and no employee should be pushed to become a workaholic

When you look to your other employees to lend a helping hand to your MVPs, you discover they can’t because they also have far too much to do. Perhaps you’ve also noticed that, despite these demands, a number of employees have been missing work lately — taking personal days on short notice, calling in sick or coming in late. Absenteeism is on the rise because, quite simply, your staff members are under pressure and need a break.

If any of these signs that it’s time to hire are present in your workplace, you’ll want to re-evaluate your current staffing management plan ASAP. And if all of the signs are there, you’ll need to move even faster because you may be at risk of losing valuable employees to other opportunities — or burnout.

Responding to a clear and pressing need to add staff doesn’t mean you should abandon a strategic approach to hiring, however. If you want to give your employees more support in the short term while you take time to find the right people for your team, consider bringing in temporary workers or consultants. A flexible staffing arrangement that relies on interim professionals to assist with current needs can help you determine if a spike in workload is likely to last and, then, when and where to add headcount to best support your employees.

Tags: Hiring