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In this economy, should you hire or hold tight?

The combination of strong sales and a lean staff has you worried about people burning out, but you hesitate to hire when recession talk dominates the news. What would you do?

It was a busy summer at Working Hard Building Supply, and it’s shaping up to be another record sales year. The reset store plan—complete with lawn and garden supply and an expanded hardware section—that you added a few years ago has again proven to be a great investment and will carry your retail sales through the fall and winter months.

With business yet again looking to take less of a downward turn in the winter as it had in years past, you’re concerned about your staff. While many on your team have adjusted well to the “doing more with less” philosophy you’ve been forced to adopt during a shortage of labor in your market, some are showing the effects of extra hours and extra responsibilities. And, now that the seasonal student help has gone back to school, you’re even more understaffed than before.

You know you need to fill some positions and, frankly, there is probably some backfilling to do as well. The only problem is that every time you turn on the news, you hear more about the possibility of a recession on the horizon. You know from your own experience in 2008 that laying off staff is the absolute worst part of business ownership. And the stories your dad tells from the ‘70s, well…let’s just hope we’re not looking at that kind of recession.

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It doesn’t take an MBA to know that if tough times are indeed ahead, then belts should be tightened now. A number of big corporations in the news have already instituted hiring freezes. But a business your size, one where most of the staff are also friends and neighbors, you hate to see anyone overworked.

In short, you need to hire to keep the team you have from burning out, but you don’t want to hire only to turn around and let them go if necessary. What would you do?

– RIDE IT OUT: Don’t hire. Wait to see where this recession talk ends up. Let everyone know they may need to wear more hats.

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– HIRE ANYWAY: The best way to take care of your current employees is to get them the help they need now.

– HIRE JUST A FEW: Find your absolutely most-needed positions and only hire to fill those.

– CHECK WITH THE TEAM: Bring the staff together, explain the situation, and your concerns, and see what they have to say.

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What would you do?

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