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Dobbeck: As summer ends, time to ramp up staffing

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

School will soon be starting, and the traditionally slower summer months are coming to an end. For many companies, this means business will be picking up, and it is time to look at adding staff. The problem is that adding overhead might not be in your best interest, so what do you do?

Issues such as the unsettled questions surrounding benefits and how long the economic surge will continue may play a key role in your decision-making process, as well. There are several methods business owners can use to meet increasing demands while protecting their long-term interests.  

First, look at part-time or variable employees. There are many qualified people available who want to work part time or want to work on a project basis. There are a number of reasons some prefer to work part time or will consider part-time work if there is a possibility it will lead to full-time work down the road. If this is an option for you, just make sure to ask why the individual is seeking part-time or variable work.

Instead of directly hiring the employee, consider using a temp service. Most will be happy to work with you; providing protection for the company at the same time. The temp service will act as the employer of record for payroll, unemployment and workers’ compensation. The temp service also will be responsible for Social Security payments and providing benefits to the employee. You pay a bit more, but the return is great. Because you are not directly responsible for the employee, when he or she is no longer needed, the relationship ends without direct expense to you.

Another employment option to consider is to work with independent contractors. But be careful. This option cannot be used for your rank-and-file employees. If the work the contractor will be doing is the same as other regular employees, independent contractor status cannot be used. For instance, a manufacturer could not hire an independent contractor to produce widgets because the manufacturer is in business to produce widgets. It could, however, select an independent contractor to handle its marketing or human resource needs. The contractor must be free to set his or her own hours, work off-site, make a profit, work for others and be paid a set fee instead of on an hourly basis, among other things. It would be in your best interest to check with a professional or attorney before considering the use of independent contractors.

Finally, there is hiring new talent. Let’s face it, now is a great time to look at new talent. So many incredible people have either entered the workplace or are considering re-entering the workplace. Now might be the right time to take a hard look at what skill and ability gaps exist and look for quality people to fill those gaps. Don’t forget about veterans who are returning to civilian life. These folks bring a variety of transferable skills to the workplace as well as a strong work ethic. Most are used to following procedures and rules, so they could very well turn out to be some of your best candidates.

When reviewing résumés and applications, be sure to use consistent criteria on which to base your decision to contact or not. Steer clear of non-job related items such as where the candidate lives or whether the applicant is male or female. Tie your criteria to education level, skills, longevity on the job and licenses/certification required for the specific job. Then, contact those candidates for a phone screening or face-to-face interview.

Develop interview questions to ask all candidates. Being able to prove your process is consistent will help ensure compliance as well as allow you to evaluate each candidate based on the same information.

• Karla Dobbeck is president of Human Resource Techniques Inc. Reach her at 847-289-4504 or kdobbeck@askhrt.com.

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