A time, effort, finance and productivity breakdown for community services

Talented community services team
Ever been stung by the cost of recruitment?

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones, and so far your own industry connections have been enough to get you through the hiring process relatively unscathed. But the chances are anyone running an established business will be aware of the burden that recruitment can place on a business. And if you have goals for expanding your community services business over the next 12 months, you’ll need to factor in your recruitment costs too. 

And, to be clear, we’re not just talking about the financial cost.
The chances are that anyone running an established business will be aware of the burden that recruitment can place on a business.

What does recruitment actually cost?


The financial cost of recruitment can easily be added up on a sheet of paper – it’s a matter of numbers. But the real cost of recruiting to your community services organisation is much deeper.

So we decided to write this piece – uncovering some of the hidden costs of recruitment, and what this means for your community services business.

Because if we can plan for it, we can plan to handle it. But (as the saying goes) having no plan, is to plan to fail.

Let’s start with some stats:




The real cost of recruitment*:

Add recruitment costs from last 12 months. Divide by number of new hires. Multiply by number of new team members you need in the coming 12 months. This equals your basic projected recruitment cost. (This is not airtight – consider the level of the position, likelihood of lost productivity time, your time spent on the hiring process, etc.) https://www.majerrecruitment.com.au/australian-recruitment-statistics/
63 days: the average time to hire in Australia (90+ days for higher skilled roles) https://orchardhro.com/blog/hello-world/
1 week – 1 month: time taken to filter and read through applications https://www.prevuehr.com/resources/insights/how-long-should-a-hiring-process-take
50-60: the average number of applicants per advertised job (although this is estimated to be much higher currently due to COVID job losses) https://www.majerrecruitment.com.au/australian-recruitment-statistics/
$5000: the average cost per hire (graduate level) in Australia https://www.ferret.com.au/c/kelly-services/cost-per-hire-survey-on-australian-businesses-by-kelly-services-n670157
58%: the number of recruiters who state ‘competition for talent’ as their top challenge https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/talent-solutions/resources/pdfs/Australia_Recruiting_Trends_2017_c.compressed.pdf

*Statistics taken from articles stated and should not be substituted for professional business advice. Businesses should do their own research as to the exact cost of recruitment in their particular circumstance.

The cost of recruitment is more than simple finances. The stats show that the costs spread across time, decision-making capacity, and general productivity. So what does this mean for your community services business, where resources can be short on the ground? Let’s see…

The financial cost of recruitment


Financially, the cost to recruit varies with the level of position you’re recruiting to. This study by ELMO Software found that hiring a new executive can come in at just under $35K, ranging down to $9,772 for an entry-level position. Even shaving off a few digits to accommodate for lower pay scales in the community services sector, recruitment is still a costly financial exercise – whichever way you slice it. 

Of course, buried within the overall financial cost are factors such as advertising – not to mention the headache of working out which advertising channels are really best for your business. And don’t forget about the lost potential for your business while you’re waiting for the right person to come along. Whilever you have gaps in your team, your overall capacity for new business is diminished, and that could cost you in missed opportunities.

The financial cost of recruitment can easily be added up on a sheet of paper – it’s a matter of numbers. But the real cost of recruiting to your community services organisation is much deeper.

The productivity cost of recruitment


Many employers will know the pain of trudging through a zillion resumes. Some relevant, and some not so relevant. Nevertheless, you don’t want to miss the buried treasure, so they must be read. The time lost in simply filtering initial applicants is an under-recognised cost of recruitment, especially for busy community services organisations who are already stretched for time as it is.

If you’re a service that runs on waiting lists, you’ll also know the pain of team members trying to balance and spread an additional caseload while waiting for a new team member to arrive. Increased waiting lists are a huge issue in the community services sector currently, and recruitment can add even more burden to an already maxed out system.

Then once your new talent arrives, don’t forget about the time, energy and finance you’ll invest into onboarding and training costs. What are the essential knowledge and skills specific to your team and workplace? This could be a hidden recruiting cost that flies through the goalkeeper.

The retention cost of recruitment

It’s a sad fact that many businesses let down their recruitment process by failing to acknowledge the key part retention plays in a strong recruiting strategy. DIY recruitment is usually so focussed on filling the short-term gap that the long-term strategy is not even part of the conversation.

That’s why it’s essential to have industry knowledge and experience on your side. Not only that, but an ability to look beyond the resume and get to the heart of the dynamics and individual needs of your team and your business. This often unspoken ‘ninja skill’ of recruiting can enhance your retention strategy, which in turn decreases the costs of employee turnover.

DIY recruitment is usually so focused on filling the short-term gap that the long-term strategy is not even part of the conversation.

How to get ready to recruit:

With such a varied list of direct and indirect expense possibilities, you’re probably wondering, what’s the best way to approach the recruitment process?

The truth is, it depends on your individual business or organisation. 

Because there are so many factors at play, finding your next talented team member can be a minefield when it comes to the real cost of recruitment. But the first step is simply awareness. Here’s some advice to any business thinking of recruiting:

  • Count the cost: consider the financial, productivity and retention costs of recruitment in relation to your individual circumstances.
  • Get #RecruitReady: our handy ‘Recruit Ready Checklist’ is free to download, and has some quick, actionable steps to help you get the most out of your recruitment journey.
  • Investigate systems to support your recruitment: make sure your documentation and onboarding systems are well structured and humming before your start taking people through the recruitment process.
  • Bring in an expert: if we’ve learned anything in this cost-counting conversation, it’s that recruiting doesn’t just take money, it takes an experienced eye. Connect with someone further along the journey than you, and get some expert advice.

We’re here to help community services businesses

Our community services recruitment specialists have industry knowledge and over a decade of proven recruitment experience.

We’re here to help, and we’re ready to take your questions right now.

Give us a call today and take the first step towards connecting with your next talented team member.

Over to you

If you liked this article, please share:

Leave a Comment