In business, we are all in for a profit.
Employees idling around is not healthy for the employee, the company nor its finances.
There is, however, one instance where I think it is okay and actually necessary to hire an employee that may end up idling at times. And that is when you are creating a new position.
In small businesses we usually only hire an employee either when we need to replace an employee or once we are extremely overloaded and overworked, the constant fight in getting our to-do list done seems as ambitious as emptying water off a sinking ship with a bucket. The mere thought of hiring and training a new employee sends us for Tylenol, especially when we start thinking “Do I really have enough work for her/him?” or “What work will I give them?” or “I’m not sure what type of person I need to look for”.
These are real and fair worries.
The thing is, there comes a point in time where you and your team become counterproductive if you don’t hire someone even if there aren’t 40 hours of work waiting for the new hire.
When you hire an employee because your team is busting out of their seems, hire that employee even if you are not sure what work they will do, what personality you need and whether it will grow into a permanent position, allow yourself to explore a little, contingent on two things:
1 – The reason you are overwhelmed is because of time and not anything else (such as you have a hard time making decisions that a new employee will not be able to make on your behalf, you can test it by seeing if you can fully delegate the remainder of your to-do list).
2 – You are open and up front with the new employee about the position they are taking and they understand that it is only a pilot program, job duties are not clear and that the position may not be permanent in the long run.
You will probably have to pay more to find an “A -player” for the task. So you may want to consider hiring first a virtual employee or assistant to help out or start in the office part time.
Remember, the straw that broke the camel’s back was just a straw and a few hours. It is the implications that are big…..
P.S. The same applies when you want to grow your business in new territories where the workload and responsibilities are still unknown.