Is it high time that medical device companies worried more about “Time-To-Fill”?

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15/04/2014

How much do unfilled vacancies actually cost a business?

What is Time-To-Fill, why is it problem, and why a particular problem to the medical device industry?

Time-To-Fill (TTF) is a metric which shows the number of days that it takes to fill a vacancy in days. It is often considered in studies of “Cost-Per-Hire”, but is rarely given the precedence it deserves.

A vacancy that is unfilled, whether it be a C-level position or a production engineer or a salesperson means nothing less than a loss of productivity, particularly in modern times where workforces tend to be lean and have little capacity for work to be easily covered by other team members. It may be considered that there is a difference between new headcount and replacement headcount, but either way, every day that a role is left unnecessarily filled is a day of lost activity and this can have a very high hidden cost.

Why do I argue that it is specifically a bigger problem for the medical device industry than for other industries? 

1)      The medical device industry is a high skill, “candidate led” recruitment market. This means that in general terms quality candidates are in short supply which has a major impact on TTF. If an employer decides they want to wait until they have seen an extensive shortlist of candidates before they make a decision then the best candidate may no longer be available by the time the shortlist has been developed

2)      The industry is fast paced and therefore highly sensitive. This cuts across all areas of management, production and sales. A lot will depend on product area, but if we take sales as an example, some “high touch” medical device sales areas will see an almost overnight drop in sales after a territory becomes vacant. A 20 or 30% drop for a few months on a $1million sales territory is a significant loss

3)       The complexity of many of the products and/or regulatory environment means that “on-boarding” takes longer, which therefore extends the period of lost productivity, thereby intensifying the need to reduce TTF.

How can TTF be reduced?

  1. Ensure a structured and objective recruitment process with clearly defined goals and timescales (with interview target dates set) and clear alignment with teams of interviewers.
  2. Evaluate “value per day” for individual roles to estimate the cost to the business of these roles remaining unfilled, and therefore comparative urgency with which roles need to be focussed on
  3. Ensure line managers are aware of the “value per day” of roles reporting into them. Introduce incentives and if felt necessary, sanctions to ensure refill is a priority.
  4. Identify and remove “perverse incentives” that might make it anyone’s interest to delay.
  5. Partner with recruitment companies that genuinely understand the importance of TTF (my company, Remtec Search and Selection has a solution called Proactive Talent Sourcing that is designed to increase recruitment quality whilst simultaneously reducing TTF)

 

The Society for Human Resource Management (www.shrm.org) tell us that the average Time-To-Fill across a range of industries for a large company is 43 days versus 29 days for smaller companies. My anecdotal evidence is that it is much longer for medical device companies recruiting professional people. On the issue of longer times for larger versus smaller companies, they suggest that larger companies have more rigorous policies to check, and there may be some truth to this. My own theory (again anecdotal) is that perhaps smaller companies (or smaller teams within large corporations) feel the pain of open vacancies more, and perhaps, as a general rule, have a greater sense of urgency to get the hiring completed. Either way, as stated before, one day too many is money lost!

 

 

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