February is coming to an end and spring is just around the corner. That means the rush is about to begin for many small businesses ranging from accountants and tax preparers to lawn services, landscapers, house painters, window installers, pool maintenance services, camps, and other spring and summer seasonal industries. So now is the time to get ready, because indications are that you may be in for a great year.
A recent Bloomberg post cited a 5.5% rise in property values since 2011, record low mortgage rates, and a significant decrease in the number of people underwater on their mortgages, as the driving forces behind a spring hiring spree by home-improvement giants Home Depot and Lowes. Home Depot plans to hire 80,000 mostly temporary seasonal workers in 2013, which is a 14% increase over 2012. Lowes plans to boost its seasonal hiring by 13%.
Even if your small business is far removed from home-related services, you can use the same strategies the big guys do when staffing-up for your busy season: temporary workers. These workers can be people your company recruits and hires directly, independent contractors, or employees you get from a temporary staffing agency.
The following are key things to consider for each type of temporary worker:
- Direct Employee: You will be responsible for recruiting, interviewing, and overseeing direct employees. Even though temporary, these workers will become part of your staff and you will be responsible for their social security, workers compensation, and unemployment benefits as well as other employment requirements such as paying overtime. Read the Small Business Administration (SBA) post Hiring Seasonal Workers for a helpful overview.
- Independent Contractor: These self-employed experts are typically a good choice if you need someone with a special skill set. You will need to recruit and hire the contractor, though you will not be directly managing their time. You will typically pay an hourly rate, but will not be responsible for taxes or benefits. It is important that you understand the distinction between contractors and employees, because if you classify incorrectly you may be subject to tax and other penalties. Read the SBA post Hire a Contractor or an Employee? for detailed information.
- Staffing Agency: If you simply want to make a phone call and hire a temporary staff member with no strings or responsibility attached, staffing agencies are good choices. You will likely pay more per hour for these workers, but you will not incur any administrative costs. These workers are pre-screened as well as bonded, so hiring from an agency can carry less risk than doing it yourself. There are many specialty agencies that provide workers with special skill sets, so you may be able to avoid training costs as well. The Entrepeneur.com post Hiring Temporary Employees provides help with finding the right agency for your business.
Hiring someone on a temporary basis has the advantage of setting proper expectations for long-term employment, and also enables you to freely evaluate workers for potential permanent positions without making any promises up front. (According to the Bloomberg post Home Depot offered more than half their 2012 seasonal workers permanent positions.) This route makes sense whether your small business is seasonal, or whether you just hit an unexpectedly busy period and don’t want to commit to a permanent hire just yet.
So whether you need one person to pick up some extra bookkeeping duties, or whether you need a team of expertly trained landscape architects, choosing the right temporary employee relationship can help ensure that your 2013 is a success.
This Small Business Tip from PaySimple offers one more way to make your small business more productive.