Recruiting IT talent

What’s the Real Cost of an Empty Desk in IT?

Has there long been a vacancy sign flashing over one of your IT positions? Though there’s an unspoken cost, it’s likely more than you would estimate. In fact, Glassdoor estimated that in recent years the roughly 260,000 unfilled jobs in the IT sector equated to $20.1 billion in lost value. How does this trend play out in your organization? Here are the hidden costs of an empty IT desk and why your business cannot afford to move slowly in your next talent search.

Longer and more expensive projects

On average, it takes 51 days to fill open positions within the IT sector. That’s 51 days, plus time to onboard a new employee before your positions have a dedicated resource to move your projects along. When timelines persist beyond the ideal range, your existing IT team will need to allocate more time to tasks that fall outside of their original scope, increasing the overall labor dollars associated with each project (hello, overtime). Which brings us to…

Employee burnout

When your employees are overworked trying to compensate for the lack of coverage, attrition is likely to rise. Work overload can have a far-reaching impact on employees well past the initial projects. If you give your employees too many tasks at one time, the quality of the end product is likely to suffer. Bouts of poor performance act as “mental quicksand”, damaging an employee’s confidence and consequently resulting in diminishing returns from their performance. It’s a vicious cycle that worsens as project timelines stretch beyond the original estimations.

What’s more, IT pros haven’t been hiding under a rock – they know the job seeking odds are in their favor. And according to Gallup, an employee suffering from burnout is 2.6 times more likely to tell their current employer “goodbye.” If your valuable IT talent decides to look towards greener pastures with a more manageable workload, you can expect to spend an average of six to nine months of their salary replacing them.

Less Innovation

Finally, maybe the most secretly impactful cost of an empty IT desk is a lack of innovation. If you’re IT department is continuously stuck in a game of catch-up, you can’t think towards the future. New, game-changing ideas are put on the back burner in place of operationally necessary or stopgap projects that might keep your business running with the pack but never allowing you to surpass them.

Think about it: What would your teams accomplish if you had the bandwidth you needed? You’re likely able to name a few moonshot ideas that reside at the back of your project pipeline but never come close to launch. If you didn’t have perpetual vacancies on your IT team, turnover, and subsequent attrition – you could use them to bring your department to the next level.

Filling your empty IT desk

In the current IT talent landscape, this likely sounds easier said than done. Finding and attracting top candidates remains difficult with low unemployment and shortages of both fundamental and niche technical skills. This is where partnering with an expert in the talent acquisition space comes to play.

When you partner with technical staffing experts, like the FISH here at Consultis, you’ll be connected with carefully vetted IT talent ready to get to work. Time to turn that “vacancy sign” off.

For tips and insights straight from our recruiting experts, take a look at our “Guide for Catching Top Technical Talent.” Don’t worry, you’re already one step closer to finding the perfect candidate.


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