Job creation is a critical issue for all Americans. But with many economic factors at historically low rates, it's not easy for a business to know when to start hiring again. Ceridian experts weigh in to help you understand when -- and how -- to begin augmenting your workforce.  

How do companies know when it's time to start hiring again?

Job creation is a critical issue for all Americans. But with many economic factors at historically low rates, it's not easy for a business to know when to start hiring again. Ceridian experts weigh in to help you understand when -- and how -- to begin augmenting your workforce. 

Know where you stand

Dr. Steven Hunt, director of Business Transformation Services at Ceridian partner SuccessFactors, recommends that employers first assess the basics. "Do you have stable revenue going forward? What kind of workloads do you predict for the short term and the long term? It's one thing to hire for a specific skill or capability -- you need a Java programmer and don't have one. But beyond that, determine where people are already stretched thin to meet established business processes. For example, you want to know if your business is running on all cylinders or if the company is redlining the system. To maintain scale of your current processes, you need proper measurement of goals and accomplishments." 

Ceridian Vice President John Higgins encourages employers to be alert to rising turnover rates. "Track the percentage of voluntary versus involuntary turnover," he says. "Stratify your turnover by discovering what percentage of your A, B and C players are walking out the door. If A and B employees represent a large percentage of your voluntary turnover, get ahead of it now because 2011 will be a breakout year for employees changing jobs." 

Know who is approaching burnout

"People have really hunkered down over the last few years to keep their jobs," Higgins says. "A fair amount of desire to switch jobs has built up as people have held onto jobs they no longer enjoy. That is likely to manifest itself over the next couple of years and become a significant turnover issue for many employers." 

"Employees have been taking on more work for years," says Hunt. "But you can ask people to put their nose to the grindstone so much that it eats away their face. Stressed-out, burned-out people look for another job. So understand the nature of your talent. You may think you have a replacement plan in place for critical roles, but who, in reality, could backfill a key position if that one individual bolts for greener pastures?" 

Know which skills are -- and will be -- most valuable

If an organization is to know which people, talents and skills keep the company competitive, there is one core requirement: meaningful information. "By knowing who your A, B and C players are," says Higgins, "you can determine which people really do create the most value. And look to future corporate needs. Your model may be working now -- but will it work in three to five years?" 

Hunt agrees that success depends upon meaningful information. "If you know what people are accomplishing -- not how many hours they're working, but what they're actually getting done -- you can determine whether a person is generating revenue well above what they're costing you. With the right information, you can say, 'This person is working like mad and generating ten times what we're paying her in salary. Either we pay her more, or we hire another person and have each person generate five times as much.'" 

Hire intelligently

Economic upheaval does not negate the fact that the workforce is aging -- which means an impending talent shortage. "When you look at staffing needs, don't be fooled by averages," says Hunt. "You may know the average age of your workforce, but it's more important to know the average age in pivotal positions that will be difficult to replace. You want to hire bench strength before you need it." 

Hunt points out that this is a big issue for industries such as nursing or utilities in which a person can't be fully productive immediately. "If you have a long ramp-up time, be prepared," Hunt says. "Business performance may be measured quarterly, but people don't become experts in a quarter -- or a year. If people need a certain level of experience to deliver full value, the issue is not the workload now. It's what the workload will look like in three years. Smart succession planning gives you information about individual potential and promotability, skills and competencies. It delivers great insights about the workforce you have today, what your desired state will be in three to five years and helps identify the gap. Then you can hire and train to fill that gap." 

Hunt adds, "When you work out the numbers, it's often better to be slightly over staffed. Imagine that you have a vacancy in a retail store manager position. Turnover of managers goes up and cash flow goes down. Other store managers are more likely to quit because they're now responsible for covering an additional store. With hard data, you might discover that you're better off having six store managers for five stores; when one manager leaves, you reduce your time-to-fill to zero. There's no financial loss." 

"Centralize your information and understand your people," Higgins says. "Stratify by function, by department, and by skill. Human capital decision-making tools, when leveraged with hard data, can really be powerful. You get the insight you need to determine who you need to hire and when you need to do it." 

Know where you stand, know who might leave, stay competitive and hire intelligently.

Ceridian Performance Management Express delivers built-in best practice processes and premium content without traditional implementation hassles -- and it's priced for midsized businesses.