To Hire or not to Hire

For SMEs, finding the balance between the growth of the business and the cost of staff is difficult to get right. There are two areas we advise looking at first, Business Dynamics and People Dynamics.


Job vacancies are falling, inflation is slowing but interest rates continue to increase, along with the cost of living. On a global level, the war in Ukraine continues, record heat waves and wildfires are hitting southern Europe and North America and climate experts say these are going from 1 in 20 years to 1 in 5-year events.

The question many business leaders are asking themselves is what's next?

What shape does my business need to be in to best prepare to weather the downturns but also take advantage of positivity in the market i.e., when should I start hiring at scale again, for growth not maintenance.

As an embedded Talent Solutions business that serves the small and mid-sized markets, to hire or not to hire is a regular conversation. Our clients are varied and across several industries but the one thing they all have in common is balancing the growth of the business, with the cost of staff and the risk that brings.

When talking to clients there are two key things that I advise them to look at first – Business Dynamics and People Dynamics.

Business Dynamics

  • What is the resilience like of your industry in the wider market?
  • How are things like AI and global events likely to impact your business and the service you provide?
  • What is your exposure like to volatility in the market and how strong is your competitive edge?
  • If you provide a service how resilient are the clients that you provide your services to? As many of us have discovered, issues with the supply chain can run both ways.

People Dynamics

  • How happy and engaged are my employees, what is my attrition like and how much of that attrition is voluntary versus non voluntary?
  • What training am I able to provide and are my employees engaged in the training ?
  • Can I create the skills that I need internally or am I restricted to buying them in?
  • What about recruitment, how hard was it to find your last hire? How long was that job open for? What was the impact on your business?
  • When was my last bad hire how did that impact the business?
  • Did I make mistakes when the market was hyper competitive to fill a role rather than get a great person into my business?

After you’ve asked these questions, you can then work out where best to invest your resources and time, creating your own risk reward profile to decide what is right for your business. This will give you the gateways or triggers that apply to (re)activate your hiring plans after having gone on pause. It’s important to assess if you have the right platform to hire from or if you need to make some moves to set it up.

Once you’ve done that it’s best to war game a few scenarios:

  • Only replacing critical employees (you need to clearly define what is critical)
  • Hire replacements and transformational roles – Understand the talent gap is to take your business from where it is now to where it needs to be. Focus on the roles that you know will make a difference and hire them even without budgeted headcount.
  • Growth ambitions - You know what you need to hire, you’ve spoken to all your leaders and you're going to actively start doing that now so that you can get ahead of your competition and be ready to deliver services while other people are trying to recruit.

In the interim, before you make your move you should assess your ability to absorb changes in the market. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Have you got things set up internally to be able to hire and train to fit?
  2. Will you lose some of your own employees (the ones you really need to keep!)?
  3. Can you compete on salary?
  4. Have you got a strong EVP that resonates with type of candidates you want to join your organisation?
  5. Is your recruitment process slick and tailored to the type of candidate you're hiring, and do you know your messages are even landing with those job seekers you want to hire?
  6. Are you building talent communities in advance of need?

I firmly believe toward the end of the year ambitious companies will start to hire again and hire quickly. We all know that often the best point to move it just before anyone else does.

Hopefully this article has given some food for thought and reference points as to when's the right time to reactivate hiring at scale and when is the right time to hunker down and do nothing. If you get this right, you can give yourself a competitive difference and get ahead.


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