As the economy continues to recover, many small and not-so-small companies are experiencing growing pains. It’s difficult to know when to hire more help, and jumping into additional commitments is frightening for a lot of owners out there. So, when should you add to your payroll? One thing is certain: it doesn’t make sense to keep your staff overly lean, stressed-out, and overworked when it can be solved with an additional employee. If you do not resolve such a situation you will lose that once loyal and qualified worker. No one can exist stretched to their limits forever. And training is expensive.

Before you add an employee to your staff, be sure you understand what the cost will be so that your risk evaluation is evident and known. In other words, make an educated decision. So much more than just salary is involved. There is the cost of insurance coverage, vacation pay and additional overhead expenses like computers, office supplies, another phone line, and perhaps another user license for your software depending on what you use. A project manager will require a truck, tools, additional truck insurance and equipment coverage. On and on it goes. Multiply that by how ever many employees you think you need and it gets expensive and risky quickly.

So what do you do? The old fashion habit of dividing an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper down the center and listing pros and cons still works well. Talk with your employees – see how they are doing. Ask around. Talk to mentors. If you have a great pool of excellent subcontractors in your area, be sure to utilize them. As you all know, a subcontractor is far less expensive then adding staff.

And, remember that while you grow, it’s always good to spend less than you make, save what you can, and to be as generous as possible. ----Kathy Shertzer is office manager at DuKate Remodeling in Franklin, Ind.