When is it Time to Hire?


Taking on new staff can take a lot of time, energy and of course, it requires serious financial investment too. It’s no surprise therefore that economic uncertainty in the UK appears to be impacting on plans to hire in coming months. A new survey from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation reveals that one in eight employers are unsure whether they’ll be upping headcount in the next three months and only 17 percent plan to add to employee numbers. As businesses wait to hear more about how Brexit will shape up combined with high inflation, it appears many are prepared to delay hiring decisions, at least for now. But is that the right course for your workforce? Sometimes making an extra hire is the best way to support your existing staff and feed your strategy for growth. So, how do you know when it’s the right time to hire? Let’s run through some common scenarios to help you decide where you stand.

When You Need New Skills

Are you introducing a new product or service or planning to take things in a slightly different direction? Perhaps you’re investing in some new software that could revolutionise your business but you’d like someone on site who knows it inside out? When you’re dipping your toe in new waters and you aren’t quite sure what the outcome will be, it can be even riskier to hire a permanent member of staff for the job. Before you write up that vacancy advert, ask yourself these questions:  


  1. Is the business likely to require these skills long term or is it for a period of launch or learning? If the latter, you could consider working with an outsourcing partner or hiring on a contract basis.
  2. Are you sure you don’t have the skills already in the business? Advertising the role as a secondment opportunity could alert you to existing employees who may be up to the job. Depending on timescales, it may also be possible to support your staff in upskilling to assume new tasks.
  3. Has the idea been properly researched? Have you crunched the numbers and weighed up the potential income the new staff member is likely to generate? Do you know when your investment will start to pay off?

When You’re Burning Out

If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer who’s always flown solo it can be extra hard to take the decision to add to your team. However, when you’re workload is consistently growing and you’re already working as efficiently as possible, it’s important to recognise something has to give. After all, you can’t conjure up more hours to add to your day.  Once you’ve sacrificed your leisure time and important business admin time, all that’s left is sleeping and eating and reducing those is likely to lead to burnout. Be honest. Is your work quality starting to suffer? Is waking up and working for yourself less of a buzz than it used to be?


It’s perfectly okay to want to keep your business small and under your own steam and if that’s where your heart lies, you’ll need to learn to say no. This could mean looking at your projects and clients and deciding which you’d most like to keep or perhaps referring some work along to trusted peers. If the idea of growing your business excites you but you’ve not yet had time to fully explore the ramifications of being a boss, head to Gov.uk for guidance on hiring staff for the first time. You may find there are some other important decisions to ponder too. For example, if you’re currently operating as a sole trader, you may need to think about making the transition into a limited company.

When You’ve Got Plenty of Work

Being in demand is a great feeling, it’s exciting to see your hard work pay off as orders or projects come flooding in. But when you don’t have enough hands on deck you may have to turn work away. Right now, you might be turning things over and just about keeping a balance but there’s a good chance that being constantly overstretched will impact negatively on your existing workforce, putting your staff retention at risk too.

One of the trickiest things is being able to analyse business peaks and troughs to decide whether a surge in work is temporary or something that represents the chance for consistent and stable growth. If you’re not sure what you’re seeing, there are a few things you can consider. Hiring on a temporary or contract basis or working with a trusted freelance team could help you to establish whether the demand you’re seeing is here for the long term. Once confirmed, you can turn those short term contracts into permanent hires.


You can also use software to take the guesswork out of the process for you. Mapping your work processes and tasks in kanban will show you exactly how much work you can keep pushing through the funnel and where your bottlenecks lie. It will even predict project completion dates based on your current workload, helping you to decide when a hire is essential.

When Someone Leaves

When an existing employee hands in their notice, advertising for a new member of staff can be a process that’s triggered automatically. No one wants to be left understaffed and having a period of crossover between the new employee arriving and the old team member leaving can make a smoother handover. However, it does mean that many companies don’t stop to ask themselves whether there’s a better option. Could this scenario give your company the chance to do some clever restructuring? Is there someone who could step up or who would want to assume some of the tasks of the role? Promoting from within may mean you still need to hire lower down the rung but this is likely to be less expensive.

What’s the verdict? Is it time for you to bring someone else on board?