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Staff are not just for Christmas…

jason back jason back
Jason Back 8 minute read

Just like a “puppy is not just for Christmas”, nor is getting new staff for our business a quick fix to our capacity or volume issues. Jason Back explains more

Getting a new puppy for Christmas can be like hiring new staff in our business. When we see a new puppy, we think about how cute it is, what a great idea it will be to be a companion to our children, and how much joy it will bring us. We don’t stop to consider the ongoing hard work and responsibility required to take care of the puppy, year after year, once the initial excitement has worn off. 

Just like a “puppy is not just for Christmas”, nor is getting new staff for our business a quick fix to our capacity or volume issues. As tempting as it is to think more staff will bring us instant joy and solve many of workload issues, they also come with an ongoing responsibility and time commitment that few business owners really appreciate or plan for. 

In a recent study, staff resources accounted for 50 per cent to 80 per cent of the cost base of SME businesses and, on top of that, we know that turning over staff can cost as much as 2.5 times their salary in sunk costs. Not to mention the cost on culture, business stability, the customer experience, your sanity and the time you will have to invest. 


So, before you tie your staff up in a hessian bag and drive them to the bridge in the middle of the night ready to do the unthinkable, ask yourself: How do you avoid this in the first place? 

Many brokers that I provide business coaching for haven’t got just one or two staff, some have 20 to 30, so the problems start to multiply. Part of growing and scaling your business is recognising that you cannot do it all and letting go of a number of the critical components of your business for someone else to do. Yes, they may not do it as well as you – but that is okay.

However, it’s a constant conversation point with brokers that when they get busy, they immediately think they should just bring on new, or more, staff and throw that at the problem. No long-term plan, no budget forecasting, no assessment of current capabilities or efficiencies, and no thought for the impact on profitability. They are looking for a quick fix to a complex problem with no thought about the future. But, what happens when the puppy grows up? 

When you first make the decision to hire staff or bring on more staff, one of the fundamental problems we create is that we don’t adjust or even think about the change to the role you now play in the business.

So, what do I mean by that? Well, you are no longer the chief cook and bottle washer – you are the broker (revenue), leader (culture), coach (training), manager (behaviour) and so on. 


However, we have this whirlwind that we operate in that we are constantly drawn back into. That means our attention is taken away from giving our staff every opportunity to be successful, which would, in turn, relieve the pressure on us and deliver efficient output. 

Bringing on a new member to your team is a critical juncture that cannot be underestimated when it comes to being prepared. Your role in your company changes forever. 

Three hot tips on how to be better prepared when hiring staff 

1)  Assess the need for staff in the first place. Are you operating at maximum or near maximum capacity? What are you asking them to do? What will you do with your time in exchange for the additional output you will receive? What is your cost-to-income ratio?

2)  Have role clarity and a skills assessment. Not just on your new employee but on you! What role will you play in the induction of your staff, their training, ongoing development, their career and life? What are you prepared to give up to make sure your staff are happy and engaged? What skills do you have or lack of in managing staff? This is just as much about your skills as it is theirs.

3)  Commit. Just like puppies aren’t for Christmas, lean in, go all out and be the employer that you would want to work for. It does not mean doing the work for your staff (yes, lots of brokers do this). It means creating a well-balanced, structured and challenging workplace that gives your staff the opportunity to grow if they want to and supports them as much as they support you. 

It was one said to me that when we advertise for a role, we are essentially saying: “Come work for me and do the s**t I don’t want to do”. So, be honest about your ability – or lack of it – when it comes to having staff. 

So, if a puppy is not just for Christmas, you need to think about the long-term commitment you are making, not just trying to solve a short-term problem. And not just to you, but also to them and, certainly, not just for Christmas. 

If you need help deciding on getting your first, second or 20th staff member, seek advice. Reach out to those that have them, those that have had them or those like me that work with businesses on how to get it right the first time. 

This is the fifth part of a six-part series of blogs from Jason Back. You can find the previous instalment of the blog series here.

Staff are not just for Christmas…
jason back
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jason back
Jason Back

Jason Back

Jason is the founder and director of Broker Essentials, which he launched in 2016 along with its practical and targeted program for brokers and administration staff that aims to help them grow their business by focusing on sales through service excellence.

Jason was previously the managing director of The Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC), a leading mortgage brokerage.

He has over 27 years of experience in the finance sector, having worked in senior sales, distribution and management roles for ANZ and having provided financial advice and services on behalf of financial planning, equity trading platforms, private banking, lending and retail distribution brands.


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