Feeling a little frazzled because your business is getting too big to handle on your own? Hiring an employee can help you grow your business and share the burden of work. There’s a lot to think about: from whether you can afford to pay them to your legal requirements as a newly registered employer. But take the time to find a partner in crime and you could unlock hidden potential in your business.

What are the benefits of hiring staff?

Good staff can help your business grow. Not only do they provide extra people power to get things done, their knowledge and expertise can add value to your business.

Maybe you’re thinking of recruiting someone with practical skills to create products, or a friendly face to deliver customer service. Perhaps you're looking for specialist skills like an administrator to make your systems slicker, an accountant who can make your money go further, or a marketer to bring in new business.

There’s no doubt that taking on new talent can take your business to the next level.

Whilst you might enjoy working alone, a new member of staff can bring a positive new dynamic. Pick the right person and they could become a trusted partner and sounding board for strategy.

Once you’ve got them, making sure you work hard to keep them. Retaining good staff is much easier than having to recruit and train new ones.

What sort of employee do you need?

What support do you need to help your business deliver its services and grow?

  • Customer-facing staff to serve customers?
  • Admin staff to help process orders?
  • Specialist expertise such as an IT engineer or cosmetic technician?

Work out how you could restructure the tasks you need to complete in your business, to create a well-rounded and appealing job for someone.

How long do you need them for?

How much time do you need from your staff member each week? And do you need them on an on-going basis (permanent contract) or just to help you through a busy period (fixed term contract)?

Employees can be full-time or part-time. Full-time work is attractive because it provides the highest earning opportunities, but many people appreciate the flexibility of part-time work. Part-time work might look like a few full days per week, or five shorter days each week.

Zero-hour contracts give you maximum flexibility to just have staff when you need them. But remember it cuts both ways and staff might not be available for shifts.

You might want to consider employing a self-employed freelancer / contractor. You can hire a freelancer for the exact amount of time you need, with no on-going commitment.

Can you afford employees?

Staff are a major expense for most businesses...but a necessary one. Without staff, you may struggle to grow or develop as a business. For ambitious entrepreneurs, a more relevant question might be ‘Can you afford to not have employees?’

When working out the cost of employing someone, you need to think about the cost of:

  • wages (don’t forget the national minimum and living wage applies in the UK)
  • National Insurance contributions
  • statutory payments such as sick pay or parental leave
  • pension contributions

In addition, there are costs associated with recruitment. For example:

  • advertising job vacancies
  • payroll software or services
  • equipping an office or workstation
  • providing training
  • uniform, transport and any other equipment needed for the role

What are the legal requirements for employing someone?

There are a number of legal requirements when you decide to take on staff. You need to register as an employer with HMRC and adhere to a range of legal compliances.

Our essential HR guide for startups has everything you need to know.

Are you ready for staff?

Going from a solo business owner to employing staff can be a big change. You’re used to going it alone, working hours that suit you, maybe working in your pyjamas from time-to-time. Suddenly there’s a whole other human taking up space and using the microwave.

To make your new working arrangements a success, you might need a shift in your mindset.

Remember that your new employee has come to work expecting:

  • challenge and fulfilment
  • structure, support and guidance
  • appreciation and opportunities to develop
  • regular pay and predictable working hours

You’ll need to dedicate time to helping them perform their duties well, as well as performing your own.

You’ll also have to take their needs into account when planning workload and working hours.

Expect for things to feel a bit strange, stressful or different in the early days whilst you’re all finding your feet. You’ll get there soon and it’ll be worth it as your business blossoms.

Is your workplace ready for staff?

You might feel ready to be the boss. But is your workplace ready? There are practical and legal considerations to bear in mind.

Space

First off, where are they going to work? Is there space for them to do their job and take adequate breaks? Have you got everything they’ll need to do their job, such as a desk and phone? Have you got the required welfare facilities like a toilet and washbasin?

Accessibility

Is your workplace accessible? Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to make sure that employees aren’t disadvantaged in the performance of their work. This doesn’t mean that you have to make changes now. But you need to be aware of your obligations to make reasonable adjustments if required.

Also know that you can only ask people about their health or disability during the recruitment process:

  • to determine whether they can carry out an essential part of the work
  • to make adjustments to allow them to attend interview
  • for monitoring purposes or affirmative action

Safety

Being an employer is a position of responsibility. Your staff have the right to work in a safe environment and be protected from harm. When you become an employer, you’ll be responsible for both Health and Safety and Fire Safety compliance at your premises. Check out our essential HR guide for startups for more information.

Further reading