Internal Recruiting: The Beauty of Backfilling


As a business grows, inevitably, it needs change. For various reasons, you might have roles filled today that may not be filled tomorrow. One of the key aspects of a successful business is to be prepared and have people in place that can fill those empty roles when needed. And that’s the beauty of backfill positions.

What are Backfill Positions?

Backfill positions are roles left open when a team member moves into another role; perhaps they went on a leave of absence, were fired, quit suddenly, or something else that necessitates the need for a new team member to take on those duties.

Essentially, by backfilling a position, you’re placing a new or existing employee with the skill sets and qualifications the former person possessed to ensure work continuity. Otherwise, you could have downtimes and disruptions in your processes while you scramble to find someone to fill the vacancy.

Why is Backfilling Necessary?

There are several reasons backfilling becomes important.

  • You may have a team member who quit or was terminated suddenly. Backfilling that role can provide you with an interim or a permanent replacement.
  • Sometimes you have team members who fall ill or go on vacation with skill gaps that desperately need filling for your business to run smoothly. This problem is especially prevalent in management roles or roles requiring specialized skills.
  • Sometimes you have team members who received a promotion and are moving on to the next level in their career. That’s an exciting time and opportunity for them, but it certainly highlights why having a backfill team member ready to move into place is important to avoid disruptions in productivity and workflow.
  • Additionally, you may have team members who go on parental leave but ultimately will return to their duties at some point in the future. To ensure their role is filled temporarily is where a backfill position can shine.

Hidden Costs of Unfilled Positions on Your Team

Though you may not realize it right off the bat, there can be several costs to not filling a vacated role.

  • Missed deadlines
  • Higher expenses
  • Subpar productivity
  • Subpar quality of your products and services
  • Noncompliance with local, state, and/or federal regulations
  • Higher rates of turnover

Unfortunately, costs can add up fast if you have staffing shortages due to an unforeseen team member being out of commission. For one thing, it means you may have to pay additional overtime to your current team members. That can significantly impact your budget.

If the position requires special skills, you could also face delays and suffer slowed productivity simply because your current team members can’t hack it. They don’t have the required aptitudes needed to perform the job.

Not to mention, deploying a backfilling strategy can help keep your turnover rates low, which means less time training new people and more time cultivating a positive work culture.

You could also find those important things get neglected despite all your best efforts. So it is vital to ensure you have backfill positions ready to go so your team doesn’t suffer, and your company doesn’t lose business. It’s really just that simple.

Ways to Backfill Sudden Team Vacancies

There are several strategies you can implement to be ready to backfill positions when the need arises. You can cross-train your employees so that they’re prepared for any open vacancies that may open up. These employees can even develop a skills database to help you know exactly which team members could potentially fill a suddenly vacated role, either temporarily or permanently.

Identifying positions that could be at risk if a sudden vacancy is also key. For instance, small businesses where you only have one team member to fill a certain role is risky. You need someone in the wings that can take over should the need arise. Make sure to also identify positions that could become vacant for one of the reasons previously discussed so you’re fully prepared if and when they do.

You could consider hiring more referrals. Hiring referrals may mean less of a need to fill vacancies, plus an opportunity to obtain higher-quality team members. It’s easier to find good people focused on your business and objectives via referrals and word-of-mouth than to recruit someone who might have zero knowledge of your business and brand.

Unfortunately, you should also be somewhat ruthless if you have team members who simply don’t cut it. Always be on the lookout for potential replacements, referrals, or otherwise, because sometimes performance may not improve even with additional guidance and instruction. There’s always that one!

Finally, never stop recruiting for the health and success of your business and team. Networking and considering the needs of your team is paramount to running a thriving operation. You can do this by frequenting in-person networking events, attending industry conferences, using social media, and setting up alerts for potentially qualified candidates.

At the end of the day, creating a solid backfilling strategy for your business is a must. So don’t be afraid to use whatever is at your disposal to uncover stellar talent that could be a good fit for your team––and when you find them, don’t let them go! ‘

Talk to the experts at StellaPop if you are in need of a backfilling strategy!

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