The Six B’s Of Staffing

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

An insightful business owner from Kansas called me the other day to discuss the short-term and long-term staffing issues confronting her growing, successful company. While the conversation began with the standard topics addressing recruitment, interviewing, and selection practices pertinent to support her company’s ambitious growth, I expanded the scope of discussion by introducing the 6 Bs of Talent Management (Ulrich, 1997).

This orientation is intended to extend a business owner’s awareness across vertical, horizontal, and temporal dimensions as a multi-lateral paradigm to better address employee talent management resources fundamental to meeting ongoing business goals. That said, all six of the following options should always be considered when facing any type of staffing need.

Buy: Acquiring the necessary employees by recruiting them from outside the organization. Some best practices include: Internet recruiting, accessing previously-filed job applicants, leveraging employee networks/affinity groups to reach out to targeted communities, employee referrals, keeping in contact with and re-hiring former employees,  client involvement in recruitment and hiring processes, and  positioning the organization as an “employer of choice“, by building, developing and maintaining employer brands and employee value propositions.

Build: Developing internal talent to fill future staffing vacancies. Some best practices include: Internal training programs, coaching and mentoring, offering on-the-job growth and development opportunities including special projects and job rotation, stretch assignments like learning estimating skills, overseeing different work teams, and aligning their growth with a career ladder.

Borrow: Contracting, outsourcing, or bringing in other labor sources. When conducting succession planning, it helps to look at capabilities both from a long-term and shorter-term perspective. Once you’ve identified any capabilities you may need in the next 12 months but not necessarily far into the future, you may want to consider outsourcing or using external labor sources to satisfy this short-term strategic need. A short-term application would include the H2B Visa program for field workers.

Bind: Retaining those employees with high growth potential and valued talent. This aspect addresses the identification and retention of the company’s most important and high-potential employees. The emphasis here is to cultivate an inextricable bond between the organization’s culture and the valued employee to sustain continued employment. Key practices include: employee engagement, access to managerial/ executive level decision processes, and a 12-18 month development plan blending anticipated skill sets with employee growth aspirations.

Bend: Modifying a position or employee’s role to fill a staffing need. In this situation, the job description can be temporarily expanded to allow an employee to serve a broader-based function, or the employee’s role is altered such that s/he is asked to perform extra duties beyond normal expectations. This instance may include a Foreman bending his position to include additional irrigation, plant health care, or safety responsibilities until a full-time replacement is found.

Bounce: Removing low-performing or underperforming individuals. Examples of this practice include: terminations, early retirements, layoffs, severance packages, outplacement services, and restructuring or downsizing existing organizational departments, services, and redundancies. By eliminating these impediments, the company is now in command of additional fiscal assets capable of being applied to other staffing options mentioned above (e.g., training, pay raises, resources).

Given current labor shortages, it is incumbent upon owners, managers, and staffing professionals to expand their orthodox mindset beyond the conventional to a more comprehensive set of alternatives.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything else related to human resources, simply call me at (760) 685-3800.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.