As a Twin Cities human resources consultant Arlene Vernon helps small businesses with a wide variety of HR functions. One of them is helping companies decide when it’s the right time to hire full, part-time or temporary employees.
There’s a fine line of knowing when it’s time to hire, or invest in permanent, short-term or contract employees. Before companies make these decisions Vernon suggests employers analyze current staff capabilities, workload and efficiency by asking these questions:
- Do current employees have the right/best tools to get the job done?
- Does our staff have the skills to perform at the level demanded of the job?
- Are these jobs are structured correctly?
- Is there overlap in responsibilities that can be streamlined?
“Take a critical look at the jobs and the people and see what can change to improve the current operation,” says Vernon.
Then, consider reallocating responsibilities as a possible solution that could increase efficiencies. Once tasks, tools, peoples and systems have been tweaked, see whether there is still a gap in the workflow or the workload and if hiring will fill these gaps.
“Sometimes we jump too quickly to fix a problem,” says Vernon. “However, if we step back to truly analyze the situation before we solve the problem, we may end up with a better result.”
If after the analysis there’s still too much work to be accomplished by the current staff then you can hire appropriately to make sure you’re meeting your production level and customer service needs, says Vernon.
Bill Peppler, managing partner of Kavaliro, a national award-winning staffing firm, says it’s important for employers to really understand monthly P/L statements.
“Establish key metrics so that there is more of a formula approach rather than a gut feel,” says Peppler. “Also understand monthly/seasonal trends and how they play a part in the ebb and flow of normal business.”
That being said, not every job requires a full-time worker, says Bill Driscoll, District President of staffing firm Robert Half International (RHI.com).
“Using a combination of full-time employees and temporary professionals can help you cost-effectively staff up or down in response to business demand,” says Driscoll. “If you need help right away, bring in temporary professionals to relieve some of the pressure while you look for a full-time employee.”
Before hiring employers need to make sure they can provide the new employee with the resources, tools and training needed to succeed. They will need the office space, computers and some time to make an impact.
“Always make sure there are enough people to train new employees so that they are getting the individual attention they need in order to produce quality work,” says Peppler. “Take into consideration seasonal trends, like hiring someone in a slow month or a busy month and what needs to be done to accommodate them. We also like to make sure if it is any employees first day, we are not on vacation or out of the office.”
Employers shouldn’t want to overwork current staff for numerous reasons – production, job satisfaction and personal health among them. But at the same time, employers have budgets to follow.
“It’s all about give and take, you can push the team but not push them over the edge,” says Peppler. “Make sure you are giving your staff reasonable time off or throwing in extra incentives like a free Friday off for all of the extra hours worked. When we know our staff has been working hard and long hours, we make sure to reward them with things like catered lunches, in office massages, and happy hour.”
Eight signs it’s a good time to hire
From Brian Driscoll, District President of Robert Half International (RHI.com)
1. You’re missing growth opportunities. You have sufficient financial resources to pursue new business, but your staff can’t handle the stepped-up workload it would entail, so you wait instead of growing.
2. New business isn’t making you smile. Maybe you secured a new account, but instead of celebrating, you or your employees are worrying about how to get it all done.
3. Even top performers can’t keep up. Communication with your ace employees is suffering, and they’re missing deadlines constantly.
4. Overtime is becoming the norm. It isn’t just around peak seasons or big projects anymore. Overtime has become the rule rather than the exception, and work is starting to invade the home space.
5. You’re pitching in too often. A good manager knows when to roll up her sleeves and pitch in, but now you’re doing the work of three employees.
6. Staff are out sick more often. Your team is using plenty of sick days, and not just for sleeping in. Overwhelming workloads may be impacting their health.
7. Errors are on the rise. In a rush to get all the work done, your team is making more mistakes than in the past. When pressed, they explain they just don’t have time to re-check their work before moving on.
8. Clients are noticing. Dissatisfied customers are speaking up more often about missed deadlines, poor work quality and spotty communication.
“If it’s time to hire, don’t delay in starting the search,” says Driscoll. “It can take weeks, or sometimes months, to find the right person for the job.”