alt= "time to hire"A “Fully Staffed” department in government is the nebulous goal that always seems to be just out of reach.

There are 3 main reasons you can’t get fully staffed:

1. Your numbers are built on a fantasy and government doesn’t live in a fantasy.

2. Your hiring managers refuse to over-hire.

3. Your department actually runs better while under staffed.

Ok, let me explain:

The concept of being fully staffed is this perfect-case scenario – a theory really – that there is a ‘perfect’ amount of manpower you should have for the perfect amount of work that you have at any given moment.  That’s a lot of perfects to happen all at once!  So why is this forecasting so broken when it comes to staffing.

These models are predictive of having a fully functioning staff to meet the perfect number needed.  Fully trained, fully productive, etc.  If the model says you need 15 employees to run a department, in reality you probably need many more than that.  You are in HR so you know the reality.  You have government employees who are great and experienced and you have ones who are as green as grass.  You have ones retiring in a few months, some taking leave and some leaving for other public sector careers.

Let’s say you live in a perfect city with a perfect budget and are allowed to hire all the requested employees for a specific department.  You would think your job has just now been made much easier but you would be wrong.  Hiring managers struggle with one very real issue – what if.  What if we do get all 15 hired and now I only have needs for 12?  What will we do?  Even when you explain the reality, they will subconsciously drag their feet not to hire just in case this might actually come true.  I’ve met with many HR/Talent Pros within local government and all of them share very similar stories.  They can’t get fully staffed because of the ‘perfect’ concept – “what if we actually get staffed!”

That’s it.

You can’t get staffed because you actually might get staffed!  If you’re fully staffed hiring managers are now held accountable to being leaders.  If you’re fully staffed, plus some extra, hiring managers have to manage performance and let weak performers go.  If you’re fully staffed – being a hiring manager actually becomes harder.  When you’re under staffed everyone realizes why you keep a low performer.  When you’re under staffed everyone has an excuse.

You’ll never become fully staffed because deep down in places you don’t talk about at staffing meetings you like to be under staffed, you need to be under staffed

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