Resourcing can be one of the trickiest things for businesses to get right. Hiring permanent employees is expensive; picking unknown freelancers is risky. But with some research, an understanding of what will work best for your business, and a strategic plan, you don’t necessarily need to decide between virtual assistants vs. temps, or anything else – you can simply pick the right solution for the right situation.
The quick guide to staff resourcingBringing in people to work for you happens for two main reasons:
- You need specialist skills
- You need to make effective use of your time
Fixed solutionsMany companies take on staff members as permanent employees. This may be full time or part time, and allows the business to grow, develop a culture and focus on success. Employees come with costs, however, including:
- The cost to recruit – advertising, interviewing, plus paying fees to agencies, if used
- Legal costs for employment contracts
- Monthly salary
- National Insurance contributions
- Workplace pension contributions
- Office equipment – desk, IT, phone, stationery
- Holidays, sick pay and other statutory payments
- Time taken by you to manage and motivate them
- Time to get your new hire up to speed
- Costs associated with your new hire not working out as planned
Flexible solutionsThere are a number of flexible staffing solutions that give you access to specialist skills and allow you to complete everyday business tasks and dedicated projects efficiently. These range from contractors and freelancers to temporary staff or a virtual assistant. Services and rates vary not just from one type of flexible resource to another, but from one person to another within each type – so one freelance bookkeeper might only offer very basic accounting support, whilst another might handle VAT returns and credit control. For many businesses, a flexible solution is the perfect one. It allows the business to pay only for the time taken to do the work, and to pick and choose the services it uses. Businesses also often build ongoing relationships with these staff, who get to know and understand the business, acting as a dedicated service provider without any extra cost to your company.
Choosing the right flexible solutionSo, if flexible is better than fixed for your business, which is the best option? Secretarial services? Virtual assistant companies? Freelancers? Temps? Here’s our essential guide:
Secretarial servicesWhat? Hire someone to handle your admin – for small businesses, this can be anything from phone answering, letter and email writing, to filing, calendar management and more. You can hire this kind of help through an agency. They will send someone to work in your office for a set number of hours per week. For: A good skill set allows secretaries to take a range of day-to-day tasks off your to-do list, allowing you to get on with running your business. Against: Staff from these agencies are often transitory, so you may end up with several different people rather than working with a single secretary. And often, the person sent to you doesn’t fit into your organisation, making them more of a hindrance than a help. You’ll also pay a fee to the agency, on top of the temp’s hourly rate, so it could end up being more expensive than you think.
TempsWhat? Temps are temporary staff who register with an agency in order to find fixed-term work. You can hire a temp for any period of time, and for a range of tasks. For: It’s a quick way to find staff when you need them at short notice. It can help you to fill essential gaps when other staff members are on holiday or to boost staffing at particularly busy times. Against: Temp staff are often less motivated, looking for a minimum number of hours and employers can have trouble with absence and productivity. In addition you still have to find someone with the right skills and fit for your company.
FreelancersWhat? People with specialist skills who work for companies on specific projects. Usually self-employed, they can work in-house or remotely. For: Most freelancers have high levels of skill and experience and can work with you and your teams to deliver a project. They bring a fresh approach and you may build a long-term relationship with them. Against: Rates vary significantly, and in some areas, people can set up as freelancers with very little experience. It’s often difficult to find and assess which freelancers are right for your business.
Virtual assistantsWhat? A virtual assistance service can take over a wide range of business tasks, including:
- To do lists and diary management
- General secretarial and virtual admin services
- Sales support outsourcing solutions
- Travel and event management
- Finance support and bookkeeping
- Marketing support