How to tell when you're ready for full-time employees

Five simple questions for any business owner to ask before hanging the "Help Wanted" sign

The Frictionless Office

“Now Hiring” sign in a store window

(Joe Raedle/Getty)

Having too much work and not enough time shouldn’t necessarily translate into hiring employees, says Cissy Pau, principal at Clear HR Consulting in Vancouver. “When companies come to us, they want to go straight to the job description,” she says. “We try to get them to take a step back and ask if they’re actually ready.” Self-assess by asking yourself these five questions. If you can’t say yes to all five, says Pau, bringing on full-time staff isn’t in the cards.

1. Do you have the cash flow to pay a salary?
“The last thing you want is to miss payroll,” Pau says. Before hiring, ensure enough money is coming in to cover all expenses—not just wages, but additional costs such as CPP, EI and vacation pay.

2. Do you have a sustainable workload to assign?
A job isn’t just a list of tasks that you’re too busy to complete yourself, says Pau. It should be meaningful work that will make a difference in the company, with a sustainable workload and tasks that are either repeated (think: updating social media daily, or answering the phone during business hours) or have a beginning and an end (specific project or product launches).

3. Do you have systems in place to handle an employee?
A bank account and a chequebook are just the first step—for full-time employees, you need to be ready to submit deductions to the CRA and do accompanying paperwork, too, as well as be prepared to handle questions from employees about workload, salary increases and other HR matters.

4. Do you have the time to train and manage staff?
“You can’t just expect somebody to come in and be effective right away,” Pau says. “You need to spend time to train them and give direction and feedback.”

5. Will there be a return on investment?
Perhaps most important, employees should either pay for themselves (by bringing in revenue) or free up your time and energy to do the same, Pau says. “Ask yourself: will that employee allow you payback on that investment, or are they just going to suck money out of the company?”