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How consultants provide protection and relief—especially during times of uncertainty

By Leslie Boudreaux

Economic uncertainty, while showing signs of improvement, is impacting the job market. Candidates and clients are hesitant to make moves. A byproduct of which is that the hiring of full-time employees has slowed—but the workload remains the same. This leaves companies with two choices—let the work go undone or increase the workload for existing team members. 

Prioritizing the current team, including how much work is expected of each team member, is a wise human capital strategy—but it is especially important during times of uncertainty. This approach not only helps prevent burnout and reduce turnover but can also strengthen the organization’s long-term stability. Engaging a consultant is a forward-thinking and strategic move that can increase employee retention, reinforce company culture and bolster productivity—all of which are crucial during uncertain economic times. 

Consultants Are a Wise Investment

Businesses often contemplate the value of hiring a consultant considering the associated costs. The question often raised is, “wouldn’t it make more financial sense to delegate the workload to my current team”? Hiring a consultant, however, should be viewed as an investment, not purely as an expense. It is a strategic investment aimed at enhancing employee retention and limiting employee burnout. Opting to overburden employees to bridge the gap can lead to turnover, a situation that not only incurs higher long-term costs but also requires substantial time and resources to rectify. 

In today’s marketplace, employees are prioritizing mental health and work-life balance more than ever. In fact, in a recent Vaco poll of nearly 3,500 employees and job seekers, 29% reported that their top motivator for looking for a new job was for better work-life balance. Demanding a 50+ hour work week may yield results on occasion, but is not a sustainable, long-term strategy that aligns the employee’s best interests with company goals.  

Replacing an employee comes with substantial expenses, including time investments. Financial commitments can reach up to twice the employee’s salary and the recruitment process takes an average of 44 days—combined with an additional six months to fully onboard and integrate a new full-time employee. (These expenses increase exponentially based on the level of the employee, too.) Investing in an experienced consultant who can quickly adapt to a company’s needs requires a fraction of the time and resources, creating a pragmatic approach that can efficiently address business needs without the long-term commitment and expenses associated with hiring a full-time employee. 

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Consultants Reinforce Company Culture

High turnover rates are expensive and can damage the morale and productivity of the team. In times of uncertainty, this can expose an organization to increased risk as fewer experienced and highly skilled professionals look to make moves given the lack of security they feel. Relying on current team members to take on an increased workload while searching for a new full-time employee can lead to increased stress and general resentment. Hiring a consultant can ease the workload of existing employees, enabling work to get done while more permanent solutions are considered. Ultimately, this leads to happier, higher performing team members and a well-preserved company culture. 


The Real Costs of Employee Turnover

In a specific case, a San Francisco-based technology company faced an unfavorable funding climate, prompting a hiring freeze. Being aware of the uncertainty a hiring freeze can bring, the company made a strategic choice—instead of hiring a full-time senior finance manager or re-allocating the work to current employees, an interim consultant was brought in. The consultant promptly delivered results during this otherwise challenging period, and secured the permanent role once the hiring freeze was lifted. This illustrates the pivotal role consultants can play in not only driving immediate business success, but also in contributing to long-term plans. 

Financial Consultants Enhance Productivity

Asking employees to absorb additional work often leads to people being assigned tasks that fall outside of their areas of expertise. Overburdening employees with responsibilities they are not familiar with can jeopardize timelines for critical projects, not to mention the quality of the output may not be to standard. As resources become stretched, employees begin to feel pressure and stress, hindering progress and creating an ongoing struggle to keep up with the increased expectations and workload. 

Over the past several years, companies have been embracing the concept of remote work, unlocking a broader talent pool that extends beyond their local market. This has led to a more extensive network of consultants with industry-specific knowledge that can immediately contribute value, creating a streamlined approach that can optimize company and team efficiencies without compromising current team members and their deliverables. 

Key Takeaway: Consultants Are Worth the Investment 

Leading during times of uncertainty is not easy, and no two market scenarios are ever the same. Organizations have found great relief in the predictability and reliability consultants can provide. 

Investing in a consultant, despite the initial overhead, continually proves to be a cost-effective choice when navigating economic uncertainty. It provides the flexibility to make sound business decisions that can financially benefit the company long term while maintaining the existing company culture by focusing on the key to long-term success, employee retention.  

About Leslie Boudreaux

Leslie co-founded BVOH Search & Consulting in 2004, a venture whose journey culminated in its acquisition by Vaco in 2022. She currently holds the position of Managing Partner for Vaco’s Austin and San Francisco Bay Area offices.


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