There are countless requests you are likely to make to your boss over the course of your career. From permission to start a new project to increasing your overall budget, the requests come in all shapes and sizes. However, there’s one big ask that many employees struggle with: asking management to expand your team and grow your department.
This request means management is going to have to change the company’s organizational structure, spend tens of thousands of dollars, and possibly rethink the entire company. It’s a major change regardless of your industry or company.
Navigating a staffing expansion request is difficult, but possible with the right preparation. Follow this process to start the discussion to hire more people for your team.
Growing Your Team Can Increase Overall Productivity
Managers tend to wait until the last possible second to hire additional staff. They don’t want to take the risk of extra costs and training for something that may not be absolutely necessary. However, as team leader, you need to recognize the signs that your team might already be telling you that they need an extra set of hands.
In an article for Entrepreneur, Doug and Polly White list five symptoms of overworked employees, which include:
Employees are working late nights, early mornings, and on weekends
Team members are missing personal and social commitments in order to work
People are more emotional and sensitive in the workplace
The quality of work decreases
You might only see one or two signs of overworked employees at first. And disconnected managers might miss them entirely or assume the cause isn’t related to their workload. However, dedicated leaders will make note of these indicators and make sure they are addressed with both the employee and management.
According to Staples Business Advantage [email required], 80 percent of employees believe it’s the responsibility of their employers to look out for their physical and mental health. However, past studies by Staples have found that 91 percent of workers admit to putting in more than 40 hours per week on average, and almost a quarter of employees have changed jobs because of work-life issues. Employers as a whole aren’t doing their part to keep their team balanced.
Put Yourself in Your Manager’s Shoes
An improved work-life balance isn’t always enough to convince management to increase staffing. If you want to successfully appeal to management, you have to think like they do.
Stephen King, president and CEO of GrowthForce, drafted an article from management’s perspective to help leaders determine whether they can afford to hire more staff. If you can put yourself in your manager’s shoes, then you can create a proposal that addresses their concerns point by point. A few factors to consider include:
Can the company afford to hire more people?
Is it the right time to bring on new staff?
Have all of the hidden costs been explored?
Is it better to hire or promote?
A 2016 report by the Association for Talent Development found that companies spend an average of $1,252 per employee on training and development, with employees averaging 33.5 hours of training annually. So, for example, management might decide that it’s more affordable to take someone on staff and train them instead of starting the process of recruitment, interviewing and onboarding additional staff.
One way you can tailor your pitch is by watching how your employer has acted in the past. If they approved an action before, they might do so again.
Know When Not to Expand Your Team
There are certain instances when your employer will deny your request to hire additional team members. Knowing when to pitch your boss and when to stand down can help you save your breath and know how to strategize your argument.
For example, David Finkel at AllBusiness says companies should only hire when they have the cash flow to profit from new hires. “Too many business owners get in trouble by staffing up in anticipation of increased sales but when they don’t see fast results it strains their cash flow and they end up having to lay people off,” he writes.
It may be better to find a contractor or part-time employee instead of hiring someone full-time for a few months and then letting them go.
Similarly, Neil Patel says that managers should avoid hiring when they’re desperate. If you’re going through a stressful patch, then you may be tempted to bring on additional staff. You just want anyone to fill a desk. With this approach, you risk not having enough work for everyone in the future. Plus, you might spend more resources training a new employee than actually benefiting from their presence.
Make Sure You Have Exhausted Other Options Before Staffing
More people aren’t always the silver bullet solution you think they are. Adding new team members can actually create more problems in the wrong setting.
“Don’t think a second location or a bigger team will help you mitigate the pressure of your work, especially if you’re unable to handle the clients and customers you already have,” career expert Sarah Landrum writes. Instead, she encourages people to consider what resources they could use first to make the work easier and more targeted to company goals.
Create a Watertight Argument
Once you have decided that increasing your team is the best option, it’s time to create a convincing argument that your manager can’t turn down. This will give you the answers to address their concerns and expedite the approval process.
Audit Your Team’s Workload
The team at Optimize Talent Acquisition recommends conducting an audit of each employee’s time in order to learn what their workload looks like and how much time they’re really putting into their work. This will show on a specific level exactly how much your staff is already working and that they can’t take on any more.
Additionally, the audit can show that you have already condensed and automated as much work as possible and are unable to remove any tasks from your team’s existing workload.
Find the Best Time to Hire
There is a best time to hire employees and a best time to grow your staff.
According to career coach Kathleen Brady, companies tend to refocus after the summer and start planning for the end of the year. Managers know they need to use up their budgets before January and want to bring someone in before the holiday season. This creates a window where budgets open up and companies are looking to move quickly.
Naturally, your company likely has its own schedule, but understanding seasonal issues can help you time your pitch perfectly.
Focus on the Benefits
While you want to prove that you understand the costs of increasing the number of staff members, you also want to focus on the benefits of new team members.
“Recruiting costs can become a distraction, so it’s important to focus on the ROI of each new hire,” Joy Pridie, principal at the Pepler Group, tells Workopolis. “Consider how you can increase shareholder value, and pick recruitment metrics within those areas.”
If possible, mention opportunities that have been placed on the backburner or clients that your team has had to turn down because of scale. This will help management realize that your company is already losing money because of a lack of staff.
Show That You’re Ready for Leadership
If hiring additional staff means you will step into a management role, prove that you’re ready for the responsibility and discuss what the changes in your job duties what mean.
Career counselor Anna Ranieri, Ph.D. offers advice when asking to advance to a leadership position, recommending the use of statements like:
“I’m ready to move ahead in the organization” or “I will be ready soon.”
“I’m enjoying what I do and I look forward to taking on more.”
“I’d like to be a candidate for the manager position that’s coming up.”
“I’ve only been here for two years, but I’ve learned a lot and I want to keep learning and growing.”
Remember, in this case, you’re not just asking to add someone to the team, you’re requesting a change in the entire organizational structure.
Decide Between Full-Time and Part-Time Employees
You don’t always have to approach your boss asking for an additional full-time employee. Hiring a part-time employee could get you the results you need without the added expense.
The team at Snagajob highlights the pros and cons of part-time employees over full-time workers. On the pro side, part-time employees cost less. There’s less risk and expense because you’re not offering benefits. If the employee leaves, you might only lose 15-25 hours of work per week.
On the con side, part-time employees are more prone to leaving. They might find a full-time job that offers the benefits they need and go where they can work.
There’s a hidden benefit to hiring part-time employees, writes Ellen Grealish, co-founder of FlexProfessionals, and that’s experience. Candidates might be people ready to partly retire or those with young families looking for fewer hours. These professionals typically have years of experience and don’t want to start their careers from scratch with a new company.
“What if you could take 10-15 hours of work off your plate every week and hand it not to a recent graduate or intern, but to someone with 10 to 20 years of solid professional work experience looking to contribute but without the hours and stress of their previous high-powered career?” Grealish writes.
Decide Between Contract and In-House Employees
Additionally, you might decide to skip creating a position altogether and opt for contract work.
Joe Neely at Toggl explains the legal, financial, and social considerations of hiring contract workers. His in-depth look is useful if your team is on the fence. One key element to consider is the legal time allowances federally and within your state. Neely reports that contractors can only work 1,040 hours for an employer each year. This amounts to roughly four months or 15-20 hours per week per year. If you don’t think you can handle those restrictions, then your team is better off creating a position.
Compromise With Contract-to-Hire
An alternative option for your team is a contract-to-hire position. Career professional Matt Krumrie at Flexjobs says many companies overlook this option, but it can benefit both parties.
Employees can learn about the company and determine whether they want to stay in the organization while companies can use the time to determine if creating a new position is the best option. This saves money in the short run and reduces turnover in the hiring process.
If you need a new hire today but don’t want to risk a full-time staff member, contract-to-hire can serve as a compromise.
You may not walk away from your pitch with a new management position and team members, but your manager will understand that you need more people and respect your workload. Even if you’re only met halfway, with a contract worker for a limited period, it is a step toward a full-time position in future.