5 signs you need to hire a first employee – then 6 tips for taking them on

If your business is growing, sooner or later, the tasks needed to keep it heading in the right direction are going to mount up and it might be a struggle to stay on top of things – if this sounds familiar, could it be time to look at hiring your first employee?

Hiring your first employee can feel like a huge step - for a start, you’ll have to let someone else into your business. That means opening your working life, perhaps for the first time, to possible criticism. You’ll certainly have to let go of a little control and share what once was yours only. You could even feel a little insecure at the prospect of greater responsibility and additional costs.

So, how do you know if you’re ready? What are the signs?

In this post, we’re going to run through five key indicators that might suggest you need to hire an employee. After that, we’re also going to look at six tips to ease you into becoming an employer.

So, let’s get started:

5 signs you need to hire your first employee

1. Turning down work

Turning down work once or twice may be fine, but what happens when this is a regular occurrence? It can be a sign your business is short of resources. If this is happening to you, it might be time to think about what more could be achieved with a little bit of extra help.

2. Time pressure

If you just don’t have enough hours in the day to fulfil everything that’s essential to the growth of your business – that’s a problem.

It might be that you don’t have time to reply to all those sales enquires or client emails - and the more hours you work, the more tasks seem to pile up. Or, it might be that you never get time to leave your desk to seek out new opportunities or even visit your clients.

Letting someone help with basic tasks will free you up to spend more time on important stuff.

3. Quality dip

Like other small business owners, your reputation depends on delivering a quality service; but when you become busy, do you find standards slip?

If mistakes are creeping in, if you don’t have the time to be as diligent as usual, or, worse still, you’re receiving complaints and customers are frustrated, it might be time to think about hiring a second pair of hands.

4. New opportunities

Financially, you may be buoyant – but do you have the flexibility to exploit new opportunities or explore new areas of making money?

If not, the moment might have arrived for you to delegate tasks and free up time to explore those opportunities that might otherwise be missed.

Here’s another thing to consider: might an opportunity lie outside your own expertise?

Hiring someone with different skills could make the most of an opening you might not be able to take advantage of on your own.

5. Greater freedom

As a business owner, you wear many hats. You’re both a specialist and the person who does all the admin. And as your business grows, the number of hats can grow too.

If you find yourself increasingly moving away from what first encouraged you to strike out alone - and you need greater freedom to reconnect with what you love to do – well, that might be a good reason to consider bringing someone in to help.

By now you’re probably a little clearer on whether you need to take on your first employee. Bringing someone into your business will mean introducing changes and in the next section we’re going to guide you through a few steps that need to be taken once your decision to hire has been made.

6 essentials when taking on your first employee

1. Right to work

As an employer, you must check your prospective employee has the right to work in the UK. There are many routes to establishing a legal right to work - such as having a UK passport, a certificate of registration, or being a citizen of the EU.

If you’re unsure about the limitations, the Gov.uk website has a useful tool for finding out which documents can be used to prove eligibility.

2. Other checks

If you work in certain fields - with children, vulnerable adults, or in security – then a Disclosure and Barring Service check may be necessary.

Other checks – perhaps for certifications or qualifications - may also apply, depending on the role. It would also be wise to find out if you need to offer a workplace pension.

3. Statement of employment

Any new starter must be issued with a written statement outlining the conditions of employment within two months of beginning a job.

This isn’t a contract, it’s simply a document laying out employment terms. However, you must include details on pay, your name and your employee’s, work hours, holiday entitlement and the place of work.

To follow up that initial statement, you will also need to send a further written document outlining notice periods, how long the job will last, details on pensions, collective agreements, and information on how to complain or lodge a grievance.

4. Decide on pay

Your new employee must be paid at least National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. The minimum wage applies for school-leavers and adults up to the age of 24. The living wage applies to those aged 25 and over. Details on the specific amounts that should be paid to people of different ages can be found on the Gov.uk website.

5. Insurance

When you become an employer, it will be necessary to take out employer’s liability insurance to pay compensation in the case of illness or injury to your employee. Cover is needed for at least £5m from an authorised insurer – and the fines can be hefty if a policy isn’t taken out!

6. Register with HMRC

Before your new employee’s first payday, you’ll need to register as an employer with HM Revenue and Customs. You can do this up to four weeks ahead of their first payday.

So, that’s it – and with these few easy steps fully under your control, you should be able to take a good look at your business, decide if you need to take someone on, and approach the hiring process full of confidence that once your first employee is on-board, your business will really be going places.

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