Working out the exact right time to recruit is complicated. If you jump the gun and hire too early, you could put the financial viability of your clinic at risk. But, hiring too late could result in a reduced standard of care and add unnecessary stress to both yourself and other team members.
If this question has been on your mind, you’ve probably spent time on Google trying to work out what to do. You will read in many places that if your time is worth XX and you can get someone else to do part of that work for YY (a lower rate), then you should hire someone. However, this is a very simplistic view, and there’s much more to it than that!
We’re here to offer you a different, more balanced perspective. Just because you can afford to hire someone doesn’t mean that you should.
These are the top considerations to review before you hire. If you meet all of them, then you’re ready to take the next step and start recruiting.
Check #1: Affordability
Can You and the Business Afford to Hire Someone?
In the short term, hiring someone will make you less profitable, but it’s also a necessary step if you want to grow in the future.
Consider what a new employee might cost the business on a weekly basis and run the numbers to see whether the current revenue numbers will support that extra expense. Perhaps you might need to cut back on your own salary or drawings to make it work. Can you afford it? If not, you’ll have to think of other ways to build up the business until it’s in a position that you’re able to hire someone.
Check #2: Growth Opportunities
Are You Struggling to Keep Up with the Demand for Your Services?
If you have more work than you can handle, or if a lack of (wo)man-power is somehow restricting your business, then it’s probably time to hire. For a healthcare service, this usually looks like long waiting lists, but it may also be that you are getting behind on administrative work or you’ve noticed that the standard of care is starting to slip.
Also, consider the growth potential for your practice. If you are in an area where there is high demand for your services, or if your reputation is spreading, your practice will likely continue to grow in the future. And then you can probably justify taking on an extra team member.
Check #3: You and Other Employees are Too Busy
Are You Working too Many Evenings and Weekends Just to Keep Up?
This is fine if it only happens every now and then, but it’s unsustainable in the long run and will eventually restrict your growth and can quickly lead to burnout if left unchecked.
You also need to keep tabs on your practice’s utilisation KPIs. Are your employees’ hours creeping up higher than they’d like? While billable hours are important, there’s a point at which your employees run the risk of burning out, which will cost you a lot more in lost productivity and revenue. In fact, one study looked at the prevalence and causes of burnout among applied psychologists and found that workload was cited as one of the most common job factors that contribute to burnout among employees.
Check #4: Defined Job Description
Do You Know Exactly What a New Employee Will Do?
Having too much to do is a problem that all of us face, and it can seem like the answer is simple – just hire more people! But do you really know what they would do? Before hiring, write a list of all the tasks and responsibilities this new employee would have. Keep it close at hand as you’re going about your own work and continue to add new tasks that someone else could possibly do.
Remember, hiring the right employee is difficult. Survey after survey shows that employers find hiring to be fraught with complications, chief among them employee retention. This means that filling a position won’t automatically solve your problems. Unless you hire the right candidate for a well-defined role, offer a great onboarding experience and continue to be committed to their growth, you could easily find yourself in the same position a few months down the line.
Check #5: It’s What You Want
Did You Set Out to Grow a Big Practice?
There are many solo practitioners who enjoy the autonomy and flexibility that comes with being responsible only for yourself. Maybe you have family commitments that mean you only work half days, or it could be that you enjoy your work but don’t want the responsibility of managing a team.
If this resonates with you, be careful before you take on a new employee, as the costs of having them on board may outweigh the benefits.
Check #6: Explore Alternatives
Have You Considered All the Options?
Running out of cash is one of the top reasons that small businesses fail, so don’t commit to this ongoing expense unless you’re confident you can cover it.
There are a number of alternatives that you can consider in the interim, including:
Part-Time or On-Contract Hires
You could hire someone part-time or on contract rates – it’s not necessarily an ‘all or nothing’ equation.
Outsourcing Administrative Tasks
Tighten Up Systems and Processes
Good systems and processes can make you, your team, and your practice that much more efficient, which might mean that you can delay hiring another employee. For example, many clinics are still manually sending our appointment reminders or even calling clients – a task that takes hours every week. But these tasks, and many others, can be automated with a practice management system like Power Diary.
Taking on a new team member is a big responsibility and will require ongoing financial resources as well as an onboarding process that takes time and effort. So, while it’s tempting to jump in and hire, unless you have a defined role and the cash flow to cover the added costs, you might be better off working on streamlining your practice and outsourcing specific tasks.