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Overview on Filling The Hiring Gap Series | Filling The Hiring Gap – Episode 01

Filling the Hiring Gap is a five part series, presented by Mosaic Human Capital Solutions, a professional services company focused on delivering human resources to client companies. In addition to maintaining an HR consulting book of business, Mosaic Human Capital offers fractional HR services, turnkey startup support, and we are quite effective and active in the talent acquisition and retention space.

The premise of this Lunch and Learn Series is to offer practical guidance to mid-market company leadership on how to fill the gaps we see in talent acquisition practices today. In this first episode, we will offer an overview to be followed by sessions on more granular content, such as applicant tracking systems, candidate experience, efficient workflows, and KPIs.

Henry Martinez, Founder of Mosaic Human Capital and former Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Valero Energy Corporation and CST brands, has been practicing HR for over 25 years. He’s always had a passion for recruiting and for talent acquisition but knows the conditions we’re experiencing right now are unprecedented. There is a lot of discussion in the broader marketplace, nationwide, about “The Great Resignation”, “The Great Regret”, “The Gig Economy”, all very relevant and important topics for businesses to understand. But what he doesn’t hear specifically is what middle market Business Owners, HR Managers or HR Directors should do to react and respond better in this tight labor market.

This series will focus on the fundamentals and get back to the basics on how middle market companies can functionally fill the gap in their hiring process. We would say sometimes it’s more than a gap, there may not be a refined process at all to hire talent in today’s market. And what was working years ago no longer works today. Good talent acquisition is a process, there’s not a hack or silver bullet. You won’t go through this series and learn how to suddenly flip a switch to make everything flow more smoothly. But what you will gain is a foundational understanding of how a middle market company can think differently, pivot or restructure and leverage tools to impact your hiring funnel.

How is an owner operator supposed to find quality talent in a tight labor market?

The first concept to take in, when operating in a tight labor market, is to face the fact that “it is what it is”. The market is the market, no different than a commodities market, real estate market, financial market, etc. We focus on what we can control, which is ourselves, to compete better in this space at this time. We help our clients do the same. You may be asking yourself, when is this going to end? The answer is, it’s not. Our country was short on labor before the pandemic and we all know that the general accessibility to labor long term, as a macro trend, is downward. So this shortage has been well documented, forecasted, pandemic accelerated.

The second concept to take in is there’s hope in strategy! Whether that’s a game plan to audit your current process or create a brand new one. You also need to understand the market your company is in and how, on a granular level, that can affect labor (some companies fall into micro markets). Altogether you’ll need to commit to it; commit to technology, better workflows, and better people executing your talent acquisition process. All of this is based on as much data as you have to help you make the best decisions. And ultimately, if you do it this way, we’ve seen clients have incremental gains just because you’re managing the process better.

What can middle market companies do when their talent acquisition team is understaffed?

From our perspective and from research we’ve done over the years, for middle market companies, their talent acquisition team has typically been undervalued in most organizations. Luke Sesler, Mosaic Human Capital’s Director of Operations, typically sees 0.5 to 1.5 full time equivalents that fill an HR role. But they have so many things going on that they typically can’t focus on talent acquisition and recruiting. Without a dedicated recruiter sometimes he sees companies with 20-30+ requisitions open at a time, scrambling to get them filled with limited resources and time. He also sees Owner Operators feeling the burden too, their production or manufacturing is down because they need 10-20+ more full time employees.

When talent acquisition teams are undervalued you start to see burnout. If you don’t have dedicated FTEs recruiting, then that HR employee becomes consumed with payroll, benefits, you name it. And all those functions are important! You have to administer those things, do them right, execute them well. But those functions are expected and just a part of doing business. When a middle market company has a dedicated recruiter, from an HR standpoint, you can really begin to differentiate yourself from other companies. Now you can “sell yourself” better to talent, you can control the candidate experience, the environment, who they report to and best of all, the data garnered from the process.

How should the Owner Operator be thinking about data related to talent acquisition?

With data, you can see trends and follow markers. You’ll be able to see if there’s turnover occurring, where’s it happening and who it’s happening with. There are many KPIs in HR, just like business owners track their P&L and growth year over year. And while it’s great to see last month’s numbers, where you see growth is continuous historical data. As HR practitioners that’s the scale we want to stand on when we’re recommending what processes to change, where to pivot, what levers to pull.

To solve for the equation of increased applicant flow, you cannot just throw money at it. Wage pressure is real, lots of folks are making moves, sign on bonuses are going through the roof right now, all this may be what’s needed. But is that decision based on data? If you raise wages, increase the cost of goods sold, and your applicant flow stays the same, then you did not affect the applicant flow. It may help in retention later, which is an important KPI to track, but either way you need this data to make decisions instead of guesses.

A good HR technology stack can help owner operators with data as well. We will discuss applicant tracking systems in our next episode, but in a broader sense going digital is not as hard or expensive as it used to be. You don’t have to have a full enterprise HRIS with ATS functionality. You can have standalone, break off technology and still be very efficient with your time and money. We don’t sell HR technology and prefer to work with what our clients already have, what they can afford and what time they can put into using the technology. Bottom line: you need technology to aggregate data to be more efficient.

Companies need to move faster in hiring decisions

Even before the pandemic we would hear about the struggle from our client companies on how difficult it is to bring people on not just timely but efficiently as well. Luke Sesler is a big believer that to really be successful in this market you have to be the fastest and most accurate. There have been times where he has seen 4-6 people in a hiring workflow of someone in an entry level position. He advocates leaning that out to see what possible steps you could get rid of, to make the process more efficient for all parties involved. On top of that you have the accuracy piece. Having the right people in the hiring process, making decisions on behalf of your organization is imperative. And if that means using an Assessment, then wonderful, make sure it’s as targeted as the people you chose to run the workflow.

In a tight labor market you need real time management of candidates, real time decision making and there are many processes out there that were not built for that. For example panel interviews, which Henry Martinez is an absolute advocate for. And while Henry has a special place in his heart for the value a panel interview provides, now is not the time. Just schedule coordination alone can kill the speed in which a hiring process needs to proceed, especially in the manufacturing, light industrial staffing space. A candidate can be swept up by another company by the time you have a group of decision makers agree on availability.

As in all things, change is hard. Transitioning to a faster paced, data driven decision making, technology based hiring process is a challenge that we hope this series can help middle market Business Owners, HR Managers or HR Directors take to heart as they embark on this tight labor market.

Our next episode will be on applicant tracking systems and we welcome your thoughts and questions on our YouTube video. Stay safe and we’ll see you soon!