Dialing in your staffing levels is critical to your company’s success. Not having enough employees can seriously hinder your team’s production, while having too many staff members puts an unnecessary dent in your bottom line. However, the events of the past few years have made the staffing process even more complex for small businesses. In addition to determining whether they need full- or part-time employees or contract workers, employers must decide whether those workers will work in an office, remotely or a hybrid of the two. What’s more, the right technology and automation can alleviate some hiring needs, making it even tougher to know when a new hire is really needed.
Understanding when and how to hire an employee the right way can make a big difference in the success and retention of your workforce. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you thrive.
9 steps for staffing your business
Here are nine actionable steps for getting the most out of your hiring process, from the employee hunt to the onboarding and training stage.
1. Establish the need for a new hire.
The first step in the hiring process is establishing a legitimate need for a new worker. Can you effectively shift around current employee responsibilities or rely on technology to fill the gap? If not, it may be time to hire someone new.
Once you’ve detected a need for extra help in the office and determined what each role in your company will look like going forward, you’ll need to determine whether that new worker needs to be temporary or permanent.
“If the increase in workload for your company is project-specific or more short-term, consider outsourcing those duties to a staffing company or consulting firm that specializes in those activities,” said Stephen Carter, CEO and partner of Sterling Staffing Solutions.
If you intend to hire a permanent employee, you’ll need to establish whether they must work in an office, remotely or in a hybrid arrangement. This will play into who you can hire, since employers seeking to fill a remote role often have the luxury of expanding their employee search outside their city or state.
2. Create an effective job description.
After you’ve established the type of worker you need to hire, you’ll need to create an effective job description. A job description is often the first experience a job seeker has with your company, so you want to make sure it reflects well on your organization and accurately describes the type of employee you’re seeking. The information included in the job description can impact the quality and quantity of applicants you receive, so clearly communicate the requirements, responsibilities and skills needed for the job. The job description should also give the applicant an idea of your company culture, benefits and unique features.
Write the job description in a way that reflects the culture of your business and the need for the job. For example, a job description for a bank seeking a new financial advisor will likely sound much different than one for a quirky retailer seeking a retail associate.
3. Post the job listing on multiple outlets.
One of the easier parts of the hiring process is posting your job listing. Since you’ve already outlined the work required for each role in your company, you’ll need only a few minutes for each job listing you create. Be sure the job listing includes an accurate job description that is clear on what you’re looking for in an employee. You don’t want to spend time reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates who lack a clear understanding of the role you want to fill.
It can be beneficial to post your job listing on multiple outlets. You’ll likely want to post it on popular job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster and ZipRecruiter, but you should also consider using social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Some industries have specialized job platforms you can use as well.
Ask your current employees for possible leads. Referred candidates typically are of higher quality, stay longer and perform better.
4. Conduct consistent phone screen interviews.
After posting your job listing and receiving numerous applications, you’ll want to choose several to interview by phone. Don’t just pick one or two, even if one or two candidates really stand out from the crowd. It’s worth identifying at least a handful of options in case your top choices don’t pan out. Once you have your list of interview-worthy candidates, set aside at least half an hour for each interview. It’s important to keep these interviews as consistent as possible to simplify the comparison process. Ask a uniform set of questions, and give candidates the same amount of time and attention in each interview.
In a phone screen interview, you should ask “get to know you” questions and questions that gauge the applicant’s interest in the company and position. Ask about their skills and experience, but in this round of interviews, you’re mostly just assessing whether they can perform the standard requirements of the job effectively. In their responses, you’re also evaluating their soft skills and how they’d fit within your organization.
“Understanding your organization’s culture is key,” Carter said. “Bringing on an employee who is a high performer but has very limited social skills into an organization that has a close-knit environment could be a disaster.”
5. Interview again and screen your best candidates.
Your phone screen interviews will help you narrow down your top choices. Set aside another hour for a second interview (ideally either by video call or in person) with the candidates you want to move forward in the process. You should conduct these formal interviews with your best candidates. Be sure to gather a comprehensive set of interview questions to go deeper than the phone screen interview.
Once you’ve identified a candidate you want to extend an offer to, consider conducting a background check using a highly rated background check service. This will ensure there aren’t any red flags before you bring the worker onto your team.
6. Make an offer as soon as possible – but expect negotiations.
When you’ve found the candidate you think is the best fit and conducted the appropriate background and reference checks, make an offer of employment to the candidate, including all of the salary and benefit information they’ll need to review. While some applicants might jump at the offer, be prepared for a bit of negotiation. Candidates may ask for some time to consider the offer. They then may come back and ask for more money or additional benefits. Ideally, you will come to a fair and equitable agreement for your business and the candidate.
If you have some hard numbers you aren’t willing to go past and negotiations reach that point, you may have to move on to another candidate. With all of this in mind, this step of the hiring process could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.
7. Begin a legally compliant onboarding process.
When your new employee accepts your employment offer and comes on board, they’ll need to fill out the appropriate new-hire tax forms. Be sure to report their hiring to the government to maintain legal compliance. You should also onboard these hires onto your HR software or platform. A great onboarding process will also include a formal orientation. [If you don’t have HR software yet, see our picks for the best HR software of 2023.]
“A formal orientation should include a clear description of the company’s purpose, goals, mission, vision; the organizational chart and description of other roles and responsibilities for their co-workers; and a clear job description for that employee’s role,” Carter said. “The orientation should also include an introduction to current staffers, a safety presentation, etc.”
Carter recommends taking these other steps as well:
- Set realistic goals upfront.
- Conduct slow and deliberate training so the new employee is not overwhelmed.
- Arrange a face-to-face meeting with upper management.
8. Ensure your new employee has all the tools they need.
Giving your new hire all the tools they need to do their job can be a long-term project, but each part should take just minutes. For example, if you need to order a work laptop for a new employee, you can make the purchase in moments online. Once the staffer begins and other job necessities become apparent, you can set aside a few minutes to complete these as well.
Ideally, however, you’ll take into account all of the responsibilities your new hire will have on their plate in advance and make sure they have all of the tools they need from the start. You don’t want to slow down their work because they’re waiting on a piece of equipment or access to some new software.
9. Train your new hire – and do it right.
Carter stressed the importance of proper and thorough training. No two companies need the same amount of time or take the same steps to train a new hire, so estimating how long new-employee orientation, proper co-worker introductions and other important onboarding steps will take can be difficult. You definitely don’t want to shortchange your business or your new employees here. Investing quality training time upfront should pay off in the long run. What matters most is that you take ample time and care to show your new employees all they need to know.
How to know when it’s time to hire
When small businesses initially launch, one employee is often responsible for tasks that would normally fall to many workers. As your business grows, this imbalance in responsibility can reduce not only your efficiency and productivity, but also the quality of your company’s products and services. This becomes a problem when you start noticing an increase in service failures, customer complaints, employee burnout, overtime usage, employee turnover and employees’ inability to meet deadlines.
When you see these indicators, it may be time to hire additional staff members. Keep in mind it may take a few weeks to become apparent that these trends are permanent troubles rather than temporary woes, so be sure you are taking enough time to critically assess your company’s needs.
An organizational chart that lists every role your business needs to fill and all the responsibilities each position entails can help identify the holes in your staffing.
The importance of making the right hire
The quality of your employees can have a major impact on your organization’s success, so it’s important you hire the right people. Each employee should be not only a good fit for their role, but also a good cultural fit for your business. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one bad hire can cost your company 30% of that employee’s first-year earnings, while other HR agencies report that cost to be much higher.
Hiring the wrong employee also costs you the time and resources spent on recruiting, onboarding and training. An unproductive or low-performing employee means more time and money spent by others on completing projects correctly. The ill-suited hire can cost you clients and customers, decrease employee morale, and even tarnish your company reputation. If a sour employer-employee relationship escalates far enough, it may even end in litigation.
Conversely, the right hire can help you optimize and streamline business processes, increase sales, build client relationships, engage and retain customers, boost company morale, and strengthen your company reputation. All your company has to gain and lose makes hiring quality candidates essential to a business’s success.
Skye Schooley and Max Freedman contributed to the writing in this article. The source interview was conducted for a previous version of this article.