Thinking Outside the Box to Improve Time to Productivity

Voluntary job separations are at an all-time high, creating two big problems for employers. First, there is fierce competition for talent, so replacing the people who leave isn’t easy. Second, losing talent means your team’s productivity will take a hit while you search for replacements. Even after onboarding new employees, your team won’t be at full strength because it takes time to train new employees and help them find their stride.

This acclimation period for new employees before they can contribute to the team is known as time to productivity.[1] While it varies depending on the candidate and the position, some estimates say that it could take up to 20 weeks for new employees to be fully productive once they have been onboarded.[2] That’s a long time for a team to operate below maximum efficiency.

So, what can business leaders do to mitigate the loss in productivity that occurs when losing members of their team? There are different strategies to improve time to productivity for new employees, including time tracking on tasks, creating structured performance milestones during the onboarding process, and more.[3] However, there is a relatively untapped resource that hiring managers can leverage to fill the productivity gaps on their team faster than sourcing new, unknown candidates: Boomerang employees.

The Benefits of Choosing a Boomerang Employee Over an Unknown Candidate

A boomerang employee is an employee who leaves your company for another opportunity but is eventually hired back. Some businesses have strict rules against hiring former employees as part of their talent acquisition strategy. However, research suggests that boomerang employees can be an excellent resource as long as they originally parted in good standing. The greatest benefit to a business is that boomerang employees are known entities. In general, their performance upon returning is the same as it was before departing.[4] So, if they were a great employee before leaving, they will still be great when they return.

On top of that, they probably already have a working relationship with other team members, are familiar with the organization’s culture and expectations, and will need less time to reach maximum productivity than someone with no experience at the company.[5]

While it’s possible that a new, unknown candidate could do a better job in the long run, consider this: a bad hire could cost up to 30 percent of the employee’s wages for the first year.[6] If you need a good employee you can trust to get the job done right, chances are a boomerang employee is your best bet. They’re less expensive to onboard, they already understand the culture and team dynamics within the organization, and they reach maximum productivity faster than other candidates.

Filling Productivity Gaps with Freelance or Contingent Talent While Searching for Full-Time Replacements

When you need extra help fast, boomerang employees are an excellent resource, however, they won’t always be available. When this is the case, an alternative means of finding skilled talent quickly is to seek out a freelancer or a temporary employee. The number of freelancers in the gig economy is growing year-over-year, so it makes sense for business leaders to plan on incorporating freelance talent into their teams at some point. Likewise, a staffing solutions partner like AppleOne makes it easy to tap into an external workforce of temporary and contingent workers who can help keep your team productive when shorthanded.

While choosing a freelancer, a temporary worker, or a contract worker over a full-time employee isn’t always the best solution, each gives business leaders the ability to augment their team with skilled talent while searching for a full-time replacement.

As indicated above, time to productivity for a new employee can take up to 20 weeks, but that’s not the case with contingent workers in most cases. SIA reports that 28 percent of businesses choose contingent or temporary labor to gain access to specialized skills or hard-to-hire talent, and 35 percent because it helps get tasks done faster.[7] Perhaps the best solution isn’t trying to rush new employees to maximum productivity as fast as possible, but rather augmenting your team with freelancers in the short term until your new employees are ready.

Employees Will Always Need Time Before They Reach Full Productivity

In a time like the Great Resignation, when voluntary job separations are so common, time to productivity for new employees is top of mind for many business leaders for a good reason. Research by Hubspot revealed that low productivity costs businesses 1.8 billion dollars annually.[8] While it will always take time for new employees to acclimate to their role, get to know the culture of the organization, and ramp up their workload capacity, business leaders can mitigate productivity losses during times of high turnover by choosing to hire boomerang employees,  freelancers, or temporary staff. Each provides a shortcut to getting your team back to full productivity as fast as possible.

Want to learn more about ways you can optimize your talent acquisition strategies? AppleOne has the tool, resources, and network you need to make your hiring goals a reality. Learn more at









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