What Is Empty Chair Time?

What Is Empty Chair Time?

February 06, 2019
A new metric that shows the real cost of a slow recruitment function.

Empty Chair Time

Look around. Do you see any empty seats? Those seats could have people in them. Bringing revenue into the business. 

That is empty chair time.

Seems obvious, right? Well, why then is no one measuring it? In this post I’ll cover where Empty Chair Time came from. What it proves and why you need to start measuring it today!

A History of Empty Chair Time

Foresight founders Danny & Kraig were industry pros for a combined 25 years. Working from the standard recruiting metrics: Time to hire, Time to fill, Cost per hire etc.

But there was something missing. No matter how they reduced their TTH, TTF & CPH, managers were still raging about “late vacancies”.

It became obvious that traditional metrics do one thing – scrutinise recruitment. 

They do very little to measure the monetary impact of recruitment. And identify bottlenecks in that process.

They are vanity metrics.

Vanity Metrics?

In marketing you have things like Impressions – how many people saw your ad or social post?

Yeah, impressions are great, but did your marketing lead to any sales?

ROI. That is the bottom line. 

In recruitment you have Time to hire. 

“Our time to hire is 10 days!” 

Okay, cool. But the role was still filled 40 days later than when the manager needed… is that a job well done? No, that salesperson would’ve brought in £5,000 sales in that time!

Root Cause

So, looking at the situation above, Danny & Kraig set out to find the root cause of the problem. 

Their recruiters were doing a great job on the surface – time to hire was at rock bottom after all!

But roles were still being filled late…

After some investigation, the problem was obvious. The same hiring managers flipping their lids about late roles, were raising their reqs… late! 

Shock! I know!

Roles take time to fill. Then you must factor in notice period. If managers are raising reqs last minute, you’re going to have an empty seat for a while. 


Danny & Kraig started tracking when managers were raising roles vs when they need them. The resulting empty chair time, the cost to the business and presto! 

They had meaningful data to take to the c-suite. A monetary figure that allowed them to say, “Look, we’re doing our jobs. Recruitment is “late” because we are getting roles raised last minute. It’s costing the business X in lost productivity. We’ve come up with a solution and we’re going to implement it.”

To Sum Up

Senior Execs respect Recruitment after a conversation like that. One where you’ve taken total responsibility for your function.

Even when the issue isn’t “your fault”. 

You’ve attached a monetary figure to the impact and come up with a solution that you will implement.  A far cry from the adage, “That’s just recruitment!”

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