When to Create a New Role

Choosing the Right Time to Expand Your Team

Time to hire someone?

© iStockphoto/MephitBlueStudio

Has your team had too much to do lately?

Are people increasingly overworked and stressed, because of the volume of tasks they must complete?

Or perhaps your projections for the next year show that sales volumes will increase dramatically.

You're getting nervous that if this continues, you won't have a big enough team in place to handle the bigger workload.

How do you know when to hire new workers? This is not easy to decide. There's much more to consider than just your current staff's protests that they have too much to do.

In this article, we'll look at when to consider creating a new role, and what you need to analyze before making the investment. At the end of each section, we'll give an action step to help you make the best decision for your situation.

When NOT to Create a New Role

Hiring a team member at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons can cost you time, and waste money. There are several factors that do not justify a permanent addition to your team:

  • Seasonal increases in workload – If your team is overworked at specific times of the year, then hire temporary help to relieve the workload.
  • One-time or unusual projects – If your people are responsible for delivering an unusually large project that's outside either the type or volume of "business as usual" work, then consider using contractors to meet this temporary change in staffing requirements. You can use contractors   to do the project work itself, or you can use them to do the regular work of your permanent staff, whose expertise you need to deliver the project.
  • Sick or vacationing team members – Again, temporary staffing can help fill these gaps.
  • Complaining staff members – If people on your team complain about their workload, then make sure they're managing their time well. You can fix poor time management   much more easily than hiring someone new to do some of their work.

Action Step:

Before you decide to hire a permanent addition to your team, make sure your team members are managing their time effectively, are properly resourced, and are working as efficiently as possible. Also, make sure that their heavy workload isn't just temporary.

When to Consider a New Role

So, what does justify creating a new job in your organization?

  • Consistent work overload – The main indicator that your people need extra help is that they're consistently overloaded with tasks and projects. If they work hard and manage their time effectively, then adding a role will increase your team's productivity as well as reduce stress.
  • Regular use of contractors – Do you already use a lot of temporary workers, contractors  , or freelancers  ? If you regularly hire outside help, this could mean that you need a permanent person.

    However, it's important to consider the costs of this move. On one hand, if you hire contractors and freelancers, you can get rid of them as soon as you don't need them. On the other hand, they often cost more per hour than your permanent staff, and they generally don't know your organization as well. Analyzing the hidden costs as well as the more obvious costs will help you decide whether to use contractors or create new, permanent roles to get the best overall value for money.

  • Improvements in the economy – The state of the economy is important when creating new roles. Many organizations restructure and downsize their teams during a recession. When things begin to improve, they often want to rehire. But it's not necessarily that simple! If a role was eliminated, there might be laws that determine when it can be reactivated, so talk to your HR department early in your decision-making process. They'll be able to advise you on whether you can create a new permanent role, and what the scope of the role can and cannot be.
  • Time spent on tasks that don't need your expertise – Your own schedule and tasks can determine if you need additional help. If you spend most of your day performing tasks that could easily be done by someone less skilled (and therefore cheaper), then creating a new role could actually help you increase revenue or productivity. This would free some of your time to focus on more profitable tasks and strategies.

Action Step:

Determine why you or your team needs additional help, and identify the benefits that an extra person would bring. You must be quite clear about this to get your request approved.

When and How to Structure Team Growth

Consider these options for creating a new role:

  • Option 1: Hire in advance – Proactively hire someone before your team gets really busy. This is risky, because if the expected increase in workload doesn't actually materialize, then you'll be overstaffed, and you'll be exposed to all of the extra costs that go with this. However, hiring in advance allows you to train new people before workloads increase, so that you can maintain turnaround times and quality levels.
  • Option 2: Wait until the need is obvious – If you wait until work volumes increase to a level where people are over-stretched, then you'll have to recruit and train during a very busy time. And by the time your new worker is trained enough to be effective, you'll have risked upsetting existing staff because they're overworked and stressed.
  • Option 3: Compromise with a "halfway" plan – Hire someone part time. The advantage of this is that you can expand your team by a smaller number of "man hours." The disadvantage is that the person you hire will probably want to work only part time – and if your work levels continue to increase, you won't be able to use the new person's growing expertise and skills on a full-time basis.

    If this is the case, you can hire another part-time worker, or you can eliminate the part-time role and hire a full-time person. Although these two options give you more flexibility, they‘ll take more time and training, and they'll disrupt your team.

    You could also hire someone to fill two roles  , dividing his or her time, if you don't have quite enough work in just one role. This can be an effective solution in the short term. However it often isn't sustainable over the long term, partly because it's hard to find a replacement who is capable of performing both tasks, and partly because people can tend to gravitate towards the role they most enjoy, and neglect the less appealing one.

Action Step:

Investigate how likely it is that your organization will grow. If you're not confident that things will really get busier, then delay creating a new role; but if you think your workload will grow, then carefully consider whether to hire now or wait.

Both options have benefits and risks, and it's important to choose a path that’s right for you, your team, and your organization.

Using the HR Department

In all but the smallest organizations, there are usually protocols to follow when creating a new role. If you need approval from HR, then you must follow their procedures.

Every organization is different, so it's impossible to list the exact HR steps to follow. However, you'll probably need to do the following:

  • Calculate the cost of the new team member, and identify the source of the money.
  • Provide a business case   for the new role.
  • Write a detailed job description   for the new role.

Action Step:

Contact your HR department to learn their requirements for creating a new role. This process takes time, so if you need to hire soon, it's best to start work now!

Key Points

Creating a new role takes time and careful thought. Start by identifying why you or your team needs help. If you have a temporary increase in workload, or if several workers are out sick or on vacation, then hire temporary help. If business forecasts show a big increase in the near future, then carefully consider your two main options: hiring now to train the new team member, or waiting until business has already increased.

If your organization requires HR approval, then make sure you have the budget for a new role, write a detailed job description, and learn about other HR requirements for the approval process.

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