Why You Should Consider Replacing an Employee With a Consultant


When you lose any employee – let alone a key player in your facility – the consequences can be devastating.

You lose their expertise, experience, and institutional knowledge. You – and others – end up taking on more work and responsibilities. Important projects can be delayed. New initiatives may need to be rescheduled.

Your instinct in those cases is to hire somebody new right away to fill the gap. But I have another option.

Your friendly neighborhood consultant can come to your rescue. You could temporarily give the consultant more work and responsibility until you hire somebody to come on full-time. Or you might find that a consultant could cost-effectively eliminate the need to hire a replacement.

The Perils of Hiring a New Employee

As a facility or plant manager, you have it tough. You’re essentially running a business and must do so productively, profitably, and safely. But you’re faced with obstacles like client demands, supply chain issues, facility infrastructure issues, budget problems, regulatory requirements, company politics… the list goes on and on.

Now, if you have an employee leave on top of that, whether it’s due to them finding a new opportunity elsewhere, retirement, or for whatever reason, that could create an enormous void that can make that seemingly never-ending list of responsibilities even longer.

Trying to fill the void left by the departing employee can negatively impact the way you do your job, the management of your facility, and even the whole business. This is especially true when the employee’s departure was unexpected.

As I said, your instinct is to hire a replacement as soon as possible.

But I would first caution that finding the right employee – especially for key positions requiring specific qualifications and experience – can take time. You don’t want to rush to hire an unqualified candidate just to have a warm body to fill a gap.

Plus, the hiring process, with posting job ads online, reviewing resumes, and conducting interviews… can be time-consuming as well and takes you away from your day-to-day tasks in running the facility.

You do have the option of hiring a recruiter to take at least some of this off your plate. But consider whether a recruiter really understands your business and the type of employees you are looking for. They might not “get it,” and recruiters charge quite a bit for their services too.

On top of all that, let’s say you do manage to hire the “right” person for the job. How long will they last? The truth is that long-term employment and working your way up the corporate ladder at the same company is a thing of the past for the most part. Employees these days tend to switch jobs to achieve more immediate “promotions.”

That means when you hire someone and put the time, effort, and dollars into onboarding and training them in your systems… you take a huge risk. They could turn around and leave just when they’re getting the hang of the job. Not to mention, sometimes you hire somebody, and they just don’t workout.

In either case, you lose the investment you made in thosenew folks and then you must repeat the whole hiring process again.

It All Comes to a Boiling Point

The whole hiring effort can become overwhelming. The process itself can be frustrating on many different levels as I’ve just shown. And it’s all done in the context of you not only doing your regular job but also trying to cover for the vacant position, whether that means doing the work yourself or bringing in a colleague whose schedule is already also jam-packed.

Suffice it to say, nobody can do the job as effectively as somebody dedicated to it full-time.

And the longer the role is unfilled, the more those job duties go unfulfilled. That problem only increases over time.

The pressure builds and builds. You feel rushed. And that leads to stress, poor decision-making, and costly mistakes.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

A Consultant Could Fill That Role

The truth is that you can side step all the hassle of hiring a new employee by bringing in a seasoned consultant, either temporarily until you sort out the recruiting/hiring process or on a permanent as-needed basis.

It’s a simple solution. The consultant you already work with is probably more than happy and able to take on the job.

If it sounds expensive, consider the cost (in time, as well as money) of the efforts outlined above to find, hire, and train the right candidate.

But I think you’ll find that it is more cost-effective and, if you will, job performance-effective and management-effective than the traditional hiring process.

By hiring a consultant to manage the job duties of the former employee, you immediately have an expert in the field who can hit the ground running and get things done; even more so when you’ve already worked with them extensively in the past.

They can manage themselves in many cases and won’t require the hand-holding that a new hire will.

There is little to no learning curve, and you will start to see results immediately. Not to mention, you do not have to deal with all the HR issues and such that come with a full-time hire – and that includes not having to provide costly benefits.

Another advantage a consultant brings to the table is that they are not just familiar with the work you do but they bring knowledge and experience from a variety of different clients, as well as different types of facilities and situations.

They will bring this knowledge base to their role working with you and will no doubt develop solutions for your facility that were successfully implemented elsewhere. Often, consultants also have an easier time implementing creative solutions too… because they are working outside the regular corporate hierarchy – and politics – that often exists at a facility. This structure can be difficult for employees – especially brand-new ones – to navigate and overcome. It’s hard to be the “new guy.”

That can improve the management of your facility overall and even boost your bottom line in some cases.

This type of arrangement does not need to be permanent. Maybe after getting through a particularly busy period, you then have time to dedicate to recruiting, although you should keep your consultant on the job until you do make a hire.

Maybe working with a consultant shows that those tasks don’t really need a full-time employee and you can just maintain the arrangement.

It could even be the case that a change in the business means those tasks are not needed anymore. When you are working with a consultant in such a situation, you can narrow their scope, reduce their hours, or just let them go… until you need them again. It’s not that simple with salaried employees, whom you might be forced to “keep busy” to justify their hiring.

In short, hiring a consultant can be a short-term or long-term solution, depending on your needs and situation.

So, the next time you have a key employee give notice, don’t panic; just pick up the phone and call your friendly neighborhood consultant!

At Envision Environmental, Inc. we are standing by to take on these kinds of consulting projects if you have the need. You can contact me, Mark Roman, at 609-208-1885 or get in touch via email at markroman@envisionenvironmental.com.

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