Hiring an employee for my shop: good or bad idea?
You’re going to open your organic shop soon or have recently opened.
Things are going well, you have plenty customers and the future looks bright. Now you have a choice to make: should you hire employees to help you or not?
This is the subject of today’s article.
I’ll start by giving you the pros and cons of hiring an employee, followed by a number of factors to consider when making this important business decision.
Then, if you’ve made your decision, I’ll give you the step-by-step process for efficient recruitment and to ensure that you’re not disappointed.
Advantages and disadvantages of hiring an employee
The advantages of hiring for your organic shop
There are many advantages to hiring staff to help you with your organic shop.
For your customers, having a larger team will provide them with a better in-store experience. For example, your customers:
- will have less time to wait at the checkout,
- will interact with a less overworked/stressed team,
- will be able to take advantage of longer opening hours,
- will do their shopping in a shop where everything is tidy and in order, etc.
Having several people (or even two, rather than just one) makes it possible to share tasks and avoids the need for one person to move constantly from one task to another (which is a source of stress and fatigue).
As mentioned above, having an employee makes it possible to extend your shop’s opening hours: this is more convenient for your customers and also increases your turnover. Customers who visit your shop only to find that it’s closed may be put off and go elsewhere.
To develop your business, having an employee in the shop will free up time for you to come up with new ideas and put them into practice: selling new products, launching a new shop or providing services for companies or local authorities, for example.
On a personal level, as the owner of your shop, hiring an employee gives you some breathing room on every level:
- more free time for you and your family,
- a more balanced workload,
- so there’s less stress and you have more energy.
It’s a virtuous circle!
Lastly, as you probably know, running a small business, whatever it is, requires a lot of “non-production” time: managing your accounts, communications and marketing, placing orders with suppliers, etc.
The time you save with an employee helps you to manage your business better, from A to Z.
The disadvantages of hiring
The first disadvantage which comes to mind is the employee’s salary and the associated costs. Quite simply, an employee costs your company money.
However, an employee at an organic shop will usually be paid at or slightly above the minimum wage: this level of pay usually has lower associated costs.
Because of the current economic situation, most European countries have also established incentives for hiring young people, older people, people with disabilities, people on work/study schemes and more. Finding out about these incentives may help you to limit the cost of hiring.
Remember that the direct cost of an employee is not the only source of expenditure. You need to think about the total cost, including the expense of helping your accountant (or other service provider) to:
- complete administrative formalities,
- draft the employment contract,
- create monthly pay slips,
- manage employee health insurance, etc.
Your employee will also need equipment when working in store (e.g. an apron in your shop’s colours), along with refreshments, trips to the toilet, perhaps meal vouchers, etc. These can all be additional expenses.
There are other disadvantages when hiring an employee:
- you need to consider paid holidays and public holidays. When you’re the manager of your own business, you tend to work all the time and you can forget that an employee doesn’t have to do likewise. :) Often, your employee takes his or her holiday when you’d like to take some time off yourself!
- unfortunately, an employee can change his or her mind and leave after a few weeks or months: all your efforts will have been (somewhat) in vain,
- the employee may not have the required level of skills or be sufficiently motivated: this may cause problems in the shop or even force you to terminate your employee’s contract, which is always a difficult decision.
Key factors in your decision
The advantages and disadvantages listed above can form the basis of a list of key questions to ask yourself so that you can decide whether or not to hire an employee:
- do you need additional support within your team? Are you regularly overworked and unable to provide your customers with good service?
- Do you feel tired of having to “do everything yourself”?
- Would you like to think about other projects and ideas to develop your business?
- with the help of your accountant: do you have the finances to be able to hire an employee? If not full-time, then part-time?
- are you eligible for financial support for employment?
- do you have an efficient recruitment process to increase the chances of hiring “the one”? :)
This last point is particularly important, in my view. Recruiting is a job: if you learn from the best recruiters, it’ll be easier to hire great employees!
How can I hire the best possible employee for my shop?
As I’ve just said, the hiring process needs to be done properly at every stage. It’s not a matter of choosing someone to join your team and hoping for the best!
To hire the right employee, you need to follow a series of steps, which I will outline below.
Step 1: identify the employee’s role
It’s vital to think very carefully about your employee’s role and the details of the tasks he or she will have to perform.
This is important for you so that you can adjust your expectations and needs and it’s equally important for potential candidates who need to know exactly what will be expected of them.
Remember to list every task, even the most trivial ones. If you want the employee to have targets and associated bonuses (for example, a % on sales), write these down too. About fifteen specific tasks were listed for the contracts I had to draw up for my own zero-waste grocery shop, including:
- helping with sales in the shop and welcoming customers,
- cleaning equipment and containers,
- dealing with suppliers and putting deliveries in the stockroom,
- helping to clean the shop at the end of the day,
- stocking the shelves,
The more the employee can imagine the everyday reality of his or her potential new role, the better your chances of choosing the right person.
Step 2: create and share the job offer
Based on the employee’s role and the tasks to be performed, create a job offer which describes:
- your company, its purpose (or its mission: for example, to promote the development of organic products) and your values,
- the tasks to be carried out,
- the required profile,
- the pay and working hours,
- the person to contact (and their contact details).
This is an integral part of your corporate communications: it should really make candidates want to work for you!
I can’t stress enough the importance of good recruitment: your future employees will act as everyday ambassadors for your company and will embody the relationships you have with your customers!
You can then post your job offer online: you can try Indeed, which I’ve found to be a very good platform, or LinkedIn.
Step 3: choose the candidates and hire
You’ll receive applications from candidates.
The aim here is to identify the candidates with the best profile, overall.
You can create your own list of criteria to consider and prioritise them as you see fit; this could include:
- retail experience,
- interest shown in the type of products (e.g. organic),
- additional skills which might be useful,
I recommend responding to every candidate, whatever your decision: don’t forget that with a local business, candidates can often be future customers too. :)
Once you’ve chosen several candidates, you need to meet and talk with them. At this stage, it’s important to discuss the practical aspects of the work to be done. Asking trick questions isn’t a good idea, in my view. On the other hand, having the candidate come to your shop and asking for his or her opinion on how he or she would handle a particular situation in the shop is a very good way to understand how he or she thinks and works.
Step 4: welcoming and training your employee
You’ve made your choice and you’ve offered the position to a candidate, who has accepted.
Your accountant has dealt with the administrative aspects for you and the candidate begins to work for your company.
There’s still more to do: an employee needs to feel settled, so you need to welcome him or her and make him or her feel comfortable. For example, you may decide to go for a drink as a team or organise an induction meeting with the team.
You need to ensure your employee’s success: this requires training in a relaxed and friendly environment.
Step 5: ensuring your employee’s well-being and motivation
To ensure that you can truly rely on your employees, you also need to consider their well-being and motivation in the long term.
To do this, you need to interact with your employees, taking their views, expectations and needs into account.
To conclude this article on whether to hire an employee for your organic shop, if you have the financial resources and a well identified need, an employee may be a real breath of fresh air for you and your business.
However, remember that it’s important to hire the right person and so the process needs to be well organised.