As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure your team and your company are running as efficiently as possible. This is especially important if you’re looking to grow, when workloads and responsibilities will start to balloon.
A big part of your role is making sure you have access to the tools and resources you need, including employees. It’s up to you to manage your workforce and guarantee your business has access to the right people - and the right number of people - at the right time.
See also: The importance of retaining employees
But recognising when you need to hire more employees and when you need to outsource the work to a few extra helping hands isn’t always easy. There are pros for both options, and we want to share our advice on how to make the right decision for your business.
Hiring new employees:
ADVANTAGE #1: Face-to-face engagement
Some of the most creative ideas come when people have the chance to bounce their thoughts off of one another. There’s something about the style of face-to-face interaction that comes with project and creative meetings, sparking new trains of thought and helping bring fresh ideas to the surface. Hiring new employees makes these engagements more accessible, and also means more people can get involved in different sessions.
ADVANTAGE #2: Long-term involvement
There is a real benefit to having employees stay at your company for a long time. It's why so many organisations invest in company benefits and employee wellbeing; because keeping hold of people who get your brand is extremely positive for the overall success of the business. They understand your voice and what you're trying to achieve, and are investing in making that happen. After all, they can earn a lot from helping the business succeed. While freelancers also rely on the business of other companies, your employees are solely focused on the work they have to do for you. And people involved long-term will spend time honing the skills they need.
ADVANTAGE #3: Real-time solutions
This is especially important when it comes to tricky problems that are difficult to resolve without specific skills, like technical errors or machinery breakdowns. Having this expertise on hand can help fix a problem quickly, while outsourcing the task might involve long waits if the contractor works on a first come, first served basis.
ADVANTAGE #4: Swiss army knife
Working in an environment where there is a team with a range of skills opens up opportunities for people to develop and grow their skill set. They can learn from their colleagues and eventually help in different areas of the business. It's almost like having a swiss army knife; general knowledge and understanding of the different areas of the business and expertise in others. This is perfect when people are on annual leave, or if workload picks up, and other team members can help out when needed.
Outsourcing or hiring a contractor:
ADVANTAGE #1: Cost-effective
Outsourcing your work can help reduce costs across the board. We know that there can be significant costs incurred when hiring new staff, like training, recruitment and the interview process, whereas employing freelancers or contractors allows you to stick to smaller budgets. As you only have to pay for the work you need at that time, you’re actually implementing a more cost-effective work management strategy. Instead of committing to an annual salary, you only have to make one off payments as and when you need a little extra help. Freelancers are also not entitled to the same company benefits your business might offer its full-time employees, like pension contributions and paid leave. This frees up more budget to feed back into the business.
ADVANTAGE #2: Work with specialists and experts
Contractors typically specialise in one area of expertise, allowing them more time to hone their skills and improve the work they deliver to you in the end. This is perfect if you have a task that requires a skill set you don’t currently have, and perhaps don’t rely on day in, day out.
ADVANTAGE #3: 100% focus
We’re all guilty of it: allowing ourselves to get dragged, and dragging others, into tasks that don’t necessarily need our input. It’s part and parcel of life. And that’s why prioritising work is crucial for every business and its employees. But freelancers don’t struggle with this problem. They are able to give focus solely on each project they have, as they manage their own schedule and work-load.
ADVANTAGE #4: More time
If you and your team are working at full capacity, it’s often a struggle to find the time to focus on the tasks critical to business growth and success. Outsourcing can take away the smaller jobs when required, helping free up some much needed time for your core team. Tasks like invoicing, office admin, content creation, design, and social media management are great projects to hand over to specialists.
ADVANTAGE #5: Access new markets
Expanding your business can sometimes involve breaking into new markets. This is a big step that requires market research, analysis, and staff familiar with this new area. But while your business might be ready to further its reach, you might not have the resource to actually make it happen. Turning to experts allows you to tap into new markets, without losing time and money on employing a new department with the right expertise. Instead, you can call on people with the perfect skill set that makes your business appealing to its customers and allows you to deliver the work efficiently and to a high standard.
So, should you hire new employees?
A question that throws many a business owner, especially those not entirely familiar with the corporate world. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Now you’re armed with the pros of both hiring new staff and outsourcing work to contractors, you can start to determine which option is most appropriate for your business. This decision-making process comes down to a handful of critical questions you need to ask yourself:
- Can the business afford the costs associated with hiring an in-house employee?
- Does the business require a handful of new expertise, or just one?
- What is the nature of the work required; small or business critical?
- Is the project short or long-term?
- Are you looking to dip into new markets?
- Can members of your team go on annual leave without leaving the business at a disadvantage?
Ultimately it comes down to your business needs, which you need to evaluate thoroughly before making any decisions. Both options have their own set of advantages, but these will only shine through when you make the right decision. Take your time to evaluate what you’re missing, and this will help highlight the best next steps. Andy is our marketing strategy and planning partner, keep checking back for more from him and the team at Hillsgreen.