As your business grows and so do your staffing needs, you might be tempted to hire full-time employees. Hiring full-time help makes sense if you’re hiring a role that is core to your business or that you know you’ll need and want for the long haul.
But what if you don’t need to take on the overhead and commitment? Or you need help with a specific project, but aren’t sure how long it will take?
You have more than one option when it comes to getting help in your business. Let’s look at each to help you determine which is the best fit for your company.
When the workload demands, full-time employees fit the bill
Sometimes the only solution for your growing workload is to hire full-time help! Here are some signs that you might need to go all-in and hire full-time employees:
- Your work is suffering because you’re trying to do everything
- You have a consistent need for help in a certain area or specialized talent (accounting, sales, marketing, administrative)
- Your business is growing and you’re struggling to keep up with customer demands
If you can justify doing so, hiring full-time has its advantages. For one, most people in the U.S. workforce are looking for full-time positions. This means you have a better pool of job candidates to pick from than you would if you were hiring only part-time or on a temporary basis.
Bringing on the right full-time staff can also be a huge boon to your organization, and can provide great competitive advantage. For example, having a skilled graphic designer on staff gives you the ability to update your website quickly and as often as you want, and create more professional sales and marketing tools.
When it comes to dollars and cents, you’ll typically pay less per hour for a full-time employee than you would a freelancer. Of course, you’ll invest in some additional hiring and employment costs besides just pay, but a full-time employee is also more invested in doing what’s needed to help your company be successful.
On the flip side, you’ll be responsible for paying for your full-time employee, as well as providing benefits, regardless of workload demands. If your business slows down or loses a major customer, you’ll be faced with some hard decisions, which include laying off or eliminating positions.
If you’re just starting out, you may not want the stress of having to cover payroll and deal with all of the administrative burdens that come with it. In that case, one of the other employment options might be a better fit.
When you need help some of the time, consider part-time
A nice in-the-middle solution is to hire part-time. If you only need help in the office, say, 10-20 hours a week, you can look to part-time help to alleviate the pressure on you and free you up to focus on other aspects of the business.
The benefits of hiring part-time help include:
- You only pay for the hours you need
- You have more flexibility to create a schedule that suits your needs
- You don’t have to pay benefits
If you decide to hire part-time help, you’ll want to create or revisit existing policies. For example, will you offer paid time off to part-timers? If your part-time assistant calls in sick Monday, can she make up her hours on Tuesday? You’ll need to have clearly defined, and perhaps entirely separate, policies for how you’ll handle part-time staffers if you’ve only had full-time employees previously.
You may also have a harder time finding the help you need or keeping the help you hire. When you recruit for part-time help, you’ll probably attract a number of what’s known as “involuntary part-time” workers. There are currently 6.1 million workers that fall into this category, defined as those who want full-time work, but just can’t find it. So if you’re looking for a long-term part-timer, you’ll want to suss out what your candidate is really looking for in the interview process. Or run the risk of hiring someone who’ll quit as soon as something full-time comes along.
There are also plenty of employees who can’t—or simply prefer not to—work full-time. If you’re hiring a new role at part-time status, with the intention of growing it to a full-time position, you’ll want to mention this possibility during the job interview. Failing to do so could mean disappointment and a return to the drawing board if your part-timer has no interest in growing into a full-time role.
Freelance help offers the ultimate flexibility
Just like Goldilocks’ search for the perfect porridge, sometimes neither full-time nor part-time employees will do. Freelancers, or independent contractors, are a great alternative when you have short-term specialized needs, or you’re not quite ready to commit to another person on the payroll.
Freelancers can work for an agreed-upon project scope or number of hours, or on an as-needed basis. You can pick the contractor that’s perfectly suited for a specific assignment and avoid the management burden of training and development. And it’s easier than ever before thanks to technology and tools—like Google Drive and Hangouts—that make it easy for teams to work virtually.
Some popular work areas to hire freelancers include:
- Creative, like copywriting and design
It’s estimated that there are some 53 million freelancers in the U.S., or about a third of the workforce. That speaks volumes about the popularity of freelancing, both for freedom-loving workers and business owners.
The primary appeal of freelancing is your ability to hire someone for a specialized project, task or term. You may just need a logo designed, or a series of blog posts written. Or maybe you need help with a 90-day launch. Hiring freelancers gives you access to highly skilled and trained professionals who specialize in doing only the work you need and only when you need it.
Yes, you’ll typically pay a freelancer more per hour than you would a full-time employee. But you don’t have the pressure and responsibility associated with managing and maintaining an employee for 40 hours per week. And you can avoid the inevitable frustration for everyone involved of trying to stretch an underutilized employee to do work they’re not very good at in order to justify their paycheck.
But as with everything, hiring freelancers also has its downsides. For one, by the time you realize you need the help, you’re often already behind. Finding a good freelancer can take time. There are freelance job boards like UpWork where you can post a job to a large pool of potential candidates, but you still need to screen and interview each applicant to find the right fit.
Another potential stumbling block with freelancers is that because they are free agents by definition, they typically have other clients. So even if you find one you love, she may not be available when you need her most. And because freelancers aren’t solely focused on your business, they’re typically not as invested in your success as full-time employees.
The good news is, you have choices. Deciding what option is best for you often comes down to how much help you need, for how long and at what cost and commitment level. Regardless of what you decide, you’re sure to find an option that works both for you and the workers you need.