Backfill Position – Meaning, Causes, Importance & Strategies

In every firm, there is always room for development, replacement, promotion, or, sadly, termination. Having the right person to fill in the absence is crucial, which is why a backfill position is so important.

By backfilling a job position, the firm ensures that work continues effectively if there happen to be any absentees. This way, the company’s performance remains optimal while ensuring that no position is left empty.

In this article, I will discuss what it means to backfill a position, why it is so important, and strategies to follow to get the best results.

What is a backfill position?

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A “backfill position” refers to a role where one fills in a void left by another person. This could be for various reasons and take a short or long time.

By doing this, the firm expects work to continue in the absence of the previous employee. This is an effective way to minimize costly disruption and prevent possible downtime.

Reasons for a backfill position

Although backfilling is done mainly in cases where someone is fired, other reasons remain. Below is a list of all the possible reasons a company would need to backfill a position.

1. Employee absence

Leave is an authorized absence from work, and this could be for several reasons. In most cases, it could be vacation leave, sick leave, or even parental leave.

When this happens, companies can not afford to leave that position empty for whatever time the employee would be absent. This is where having backfill employees becomes important.

2. Employee promotion

It is always good to motivate your workers by giving promotions when it is due. When this happens, the organization must be prepared to fill the position temporarily until the right replacement is found.

3. Employee resignation, retirement, or termination

It requires a backfill immediately if an employee is laid off, retires, or offers an official resignation letter.

This way, the company does not suffer the loss of a crucial worker with good knowledge but instead fills that position adequately.

Why is backfilling important?

1. Minimize costly disruption

This is crucial in managing any organization or firm, especially those who pay by the hour. When an employee leaves the firm for any reason, the workload is passed on to the other workers.

Leaving such a workload for random workers is not advisable because they are not used to that aspect of work. It will take them longer to get the job done while you pay for the extra hours.

2. Helps reduce the risk of losing other important employees

When a backfill is not used, other workers who try to fill in will feel overworked. This may cause more work-related stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction among your workers.

When your employee’s morale falls, so does productivity, which will worsen the situation.

In some cases, workers search for a job elsewhere as they may be uncomfortable with the workload.

3. Ensures work continues smoothly

Using a backfill further ensures that your company stays on the right path to achieving the overall goal.

The absence of a backfill causes other employees to pile up work, which may lead to neglecting important tasks.

What are the right strategies to get the best backfill?

Now that you know the importance of a backfill position, let’s see the best strategies to implement it.

1. Identify potential free or vacant spots

Identifying weak or potential vacant spots is the first step to getting the best backfill. Consider spots that are crucial but occupied by one worker or lacking backup.

For example, a restaurant with only one head chef or an accounting firm with only one accountant.

2. Know the skills required to fill that spot

The best practice is to identify the skills of each member of the various potential free roles. This way, you know the qualities or skills required to backfill that position.

3. Cross-train your employees

Cross-training is an effective step in getting the right backfill candidate. For example, you can cross-train a sales representative to work as a marketing specialist and vice versa.

The best practice is to ensure the employee’s fields are related. That way, it is easier to acquire the required skills.

Also, tell them of the potential reward they stand to gain. This would help boost their attitude toward work.

4. Recruit if there is a need

It is best to recruit if you sense that the required skill is not one you can train other employees for. You can use social media platforms such as LinkedIn to prepare potential backfill.

5. Pair junior and senior employees

This is another crucial step in getting a potential backfill. However, ensure that the junior employees see their future with the organization. This offers them glimpses of a position they may fill one day.

This kind of strategy is mainly termed a mentorship program and fosters growth and connection in a firm.

Although, it is best to design it in a way it would benefit both parties and your need to backfill a position in the future.

Will backfill positions work in your company?

Yes, it will. Backfilling any position is a plan for the near future, and if done correctly, it yields tremendous results.

These results include minimizing cost, smooth running of the organization, and stress-free recruitment.

However, it is all about the continuity of the work. It is okay if you can wait for the employees to return. But if you feel a backfill is needed in case the situation calls for it, why not go ahead?


Is backfill different from a replacement?

Yes, it is.

Backfill refers to a temporary fill to a position, while replacement refers to an employee taking a role permanently.

Can a backfill position turn into a replacement?

Yes, it can.

There are cases where a backfill performs so adequately that the organization considers the employee for a permanent role.

Can you use a referral for backfill?

Yes, you can.

Some companies employ this tactic as well. They simply use a referral from any employee to backfill a position.


Backfilling any job position is a plan for the near future with several positive outcomes.

It saves the expenses of recruiting and onboarding a new employee and allows other individuals to grow into a position.

You can follow the strategies mentioned in this article to get the best result or backfill for your firm.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Read more content on LMS Hero.

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