Guest blogger: Simon Wilson, SME advice and hot topic blogger
Right way or highway?
There is a right way and a wrong way to go about hiring staff, especially for the first time. If you have been working alone for a while hiring a member of staff is exciting and a sign that your businesses is heading in the right direction. Yet, like all human relationships, starting out with your very first employee is a big step. Get it right and you may well be together for many happy years to come. Get it wrong and your once busy but satisfying working life may become a nightmare. Approaches to hiring will vary to some extent depending on the sector you work in but there are some simple pre-hiring steps to take.
What are you looking for?
Before you jump straight into the world of being not just your own boss but somebody else’s too consider one very simple fact; Do you actually need an employee? More accurately perhaps, do you need full time, part time, seasonal or permanent? It may sound obvious, but it’s worth being clear from the very start what you actually need,what this will mean for you, that you’ll not be wasting money and it won’t leave a bitter taste for an employee who thought they were getting a full time permanent post, if that’s not the case. It’s easy to say you’re hired, but it is excruciatingly difficult to say “I’m going to have to let you go.”
It’s not always just a peak in business that prompts us to look for staff. If you’ve discovered that you are lacking in certain skills essential to running a business, then you might decide to fill the skill gap with an employee. Often it can make sense to employ someone who can complete a job in half the time it takes you, which in turn leaves you free to get on with the day job. However, as an alternative, consider costing out the investment of simply training yourself. Costing out in this case should involve the costs of training fees and lost time (earning time) to seeand decide what will be the most economical approach.
Hidden costs of employees
Employees are costly little devils. They want holiday pay, they want parental leave and they need paying every single month. Add to that simple factors such as wanting their own desks, and you have a host of hidden costs in taking on staff. These hidden costs or ones that may not be obvious when you first consider taking on staff should be factored into the process. Certainly it’s important to consider equipment costs; there is no point in hiring someone only to realise there is nowhere for them to sit when they arrive, or you forgot to install payroll software and may not be in a position to comply with annoying requests for salary.
Alternatives and opportunities
There are two simple alternatives if you find that your employment requirements are only short term or are for skill gaps. Working with an agency to cover busy periods can be an ideal way to get extra staff on a short term basis. In addition to avoiding having to recruit, interview and choose for yourself, basic functions like payroll can be dealt with by the agency. For skill gaps alternatives can include contacting local colleges and universities to offer an internship or a paid short term vacancy – to build a professional website for example.These alternatives also give you the opportunity to get to know an individual. In some cases taking on a temporary worker may lead to much higher productivity and leave you with the option to make the arrangement permanent.
Simon Wilson blogs about small business issues, covering everything from how best to use social media in SME’s to tutorials for QuickBooks online. When he’s not online Simon enjoys travelling the world and sampling foreign cuisine.
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