Think outside the box to get the right person for the job
Roisin Burke also finds out what grants and tax breaks are available to firms that are seeking new staff
'IT'S a huge step for a business to go even from one to two employees," says Eibhlin Curley of business support body Dublin City Enterprise Board.
"Once a business gets beyond a certain size and you hire staff, you're taking a leap of faith that you have enough sales and resources to support that."
When you decide to expand the numbers in your burgeoning business empire, the next challenge is how to get the best people. But how do you go about getting the right people for the right price?
USING an agency is one of the stand-out costs of staff hunting. There are two schools of thought here -- one is that a newbie start-up can't afford to use one, and the other is that you can't afford not to.
Guess which one the boss of Sigmar Recruitment Consultants, Adrian McGennis, ascribes to? He contends that using his services can actually save you money.
"Getting the right people can be make or break for a business," he says. "The right sales person can take in €300,000 a year for you instead of €150,000."
Using a recruitment agency also saves you costs in terms of man-hours spent sifting through CVs, checking references, and testing that language and other skills are up to scratch. Also a good entrepreneur doesn't always make a good HR guru. Sometimes you need to know when to delegate..
However, Tim Greenwood, owner and founder of Cooks Academy, says it's a cost you can definitely do without.
And he should know -- he actually was a hot-shot recruitment agent himself until he started his own cookery school business with wife Vanessa in 2005.
"Some people might say to you 'well, you can't afford not to' but when you're a small business starting up you can't really afford a recruitment company," Greenwood argues.
"I couldn't spend €3,000 on a recruitment fee. And now, in much more of an employers' market, you certainly don't need to if you go to the right places for your 'target market'."
A recruitment agency gets its fee through taking around 10 per cent of the first year of your employee's salary. So if you recruit say a sales rep at €35,000, that's a hefty enough €3,500. However, it's usually 'no foal no fee' so you pay only the agency if it delivers a recruit.
THERE are heaps of websites advertising jobs such as jobs.ie, loadzajobs.ie, monster.ie etc. Costs are "steep but you can haggle", a tech start-up business owner tells us.
On average, a major jobs website would quote you around €540 (including VAT) for a one-month advert. "Don't pay that!" our techie boss warns.
"Haggle! I got my ads down to half that."
You might do better with specialist websites aimed at your business sector. Greenwood has used www.jobsforcooks.com, where an ad for one month costs just €50 plus VAT and 20 per cent off for a further ad in the same month -- and he received scores of good CVs.
He has also used the Fas website, which has big traffic from job hunters, and is completely free to use. The jobs site www.jobsearch.ie is free, or costs €50 per week for an ad placement that brings your ad to the top five of the search list.
"Work out your target market, what they read, where they go, where they work now and go and access them there," advises Greenwood. If you have a Facebook or Twitter page for example, it's the perfect place for you to post your recruitment shout-out, as you're speaking to people who are already interested in what you do.
Press advertising can cost less than online recruitment sites but the reach is more limited. Then again, it can target people in the the area you're in more effectively. A classified ad in a national paper starts at around €50. Local newspaper classifieds ads cost about €5-€10 depending on the word count. A two-inch, one-column advert (about matchbox sized) costs around €150 with VAT.
PRSI and tax breaks
Paying PRSI is a serious cost once you have a few staff working for you.
"You've got to factor in nearly 11 per cent PRSI per individual when you hire someone," Greenwood points out. "Our payroll is about €20,000 a month, so that's €2,000 of employment tax that we're paying. The Government has to get in tax from somewhere, of course, but there should be some incentive to taking people off the dole."
Well, there is some incentive. If you employ someone off the live register or hire someone from a Fas programme you may be entitled to 12 months' exemption from paying PRSI for them, saving you in the region of €1,500 a year. This can apply for up to five new full-time employees, under the Employer Job Incentive Scheme. Check out the employer page at www.welfare.ie for more details.
There's also a tax relief scheme,Revenue Job Assist (see www.revenue.ie), through which you may be able to claim extra tax and PRSI deductions if you hire a person who has been unemployed for 12 months or more.
IT'S worth bearing in mind that the national minimum wage is not the base line for staff wages in many professions.
If you're setting up a hairdressing salon, for example, a hairdresser's weekly wage can't be less than €361.44 and could be up to €389.23 a week, depending on experience, and it must include 10 per cent commission on their personal takings. Manicurists also have set rates and commission entitlements.
The rates are laid down in Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements and dictate pay for a swathe of jobs from cheffing and bar work to farming, retail and cleaning. Time-and-a-half and double-time rules apply to many restaurant, hotel and bar jobs. Refer to the 'rates of pay' page at www.labourcourt.ie for details.
You can take on short-term staff for free through Fas's placement schemes, aimed at providing work experience for unemployed people. Fas has two Work Placement Programmes: WWP1 for graduates and WPP2 for non-graduates, where you can recruit staff from the live register.
They work unpaid and continue to receive unemployment benefit while gaining work experience at your company for two to nine months.
You apply through your local Fas office and then advertise your work placement job on Fas's website, social media pages and offices. Candidates contact you directly and you contact Fas when you want to take someone on. Fas vets employers and may visit your offices during placements.
A business with fewer than 10 employees can have one Fas placement, fewer than 20 can have two, and fewer than 30 can have three. A company with 30-plus employees can have up to 25 placements or 10 per cent of its workforce.
Grants towards staffing up
IF you're starting a business with export potential, your local county or city enterprise board (enterpriseboards.ie) may provide funding towards staff hire.
The boards give support to businesses with one to 10 employees, both in terms of money and advice.
The Business Priming and Business Development schemes provide grants of an average €15,000 to €20,000 respectively for start-ups that are 18 months in business. That includes €5,000-€10,000 per employee towards salary costs. The funding must be used to "create at least one new full-time job for the promoter or a new employee. The level of funding depends on the stage of business and number of jobs created".
There's also a mentoring programme where, for a small fee (about €20), you can benefit from human resources advice.
Once you're more established there's the Plato Management Development Network. It's for small- and medium-sized companies over three years old, which can receive expertise from 'parent' companies, such as IBM, Diageo and Ericsson and Readymix.
When recruiting new staff, the trick is to rely upon the resourcefulness that helped you set up your own business in the first place.
"You've got to look outside the box for all sorts of solutions for all sorts of things that don't involve spending a lot of money," Greenwood concludes.
Sunday Indo Business