Why hiring your second employee is an even bigger deal than the first

Looking to make your second hire? That’s great. You should be commended for generating jobs. 

Arguably, hiring your first employee might require a bigger leap of faith. But employee number two is probably more consequential. 

Why? Because now you’re now outnumbered. You’ve crossed over into true employerhoodWith that comes new expectations that you might not have when you’re a first-time boss. 

Below are some common expectations that employees have of their employers, along with some expectation that employees might have because you’re a small business. Are you prepared?

“I will be paid on time, every time.”
This one’s non-negotiable. And IOUs don’t count. Even a day late, for a legit reason or not, is a breach of trust that could erode an employee’s loyalty.

“You will deposit my check into my bank account electronically.”
A paper check – what’s that? Direct deposit is pretty much table stakes nowadays, which means you’ll need to use a payroll service.

“My benefits will be deducted from my paycheck.”
See above. Automatic deductions is another reason to go with a payroll service.

“BTW, I expect benefits, including PTO, sick pay, health care and retirement plans.”
Yes, that means you’ll need to set up make policies, find providers, set up plans and communicate to your team.

“I will learn a lot, thanks to your training & development program.”
You might be thinking that on-the-job training is all the development program a new employee needs. Fair enough. But there are some things you can do to lend structure to how you develop employees, such as regular employee reviews, peer reviews, ongoing education, association memberships and conferences.

“I’ll have someone to talk to, like an HR department, if I have trouble with some aspect of my job.”
Sure, it could be a long time before you bring on a head of HR. In the meantime, HR has two meanings. One, it’s about following rules and best practices in hiring, managing and firing. To that end, here’s a great blog post on essential HR requirements for small businesses. Two, it’s about how employees deal with sticky situations. And the weird thing about a three-person business is that you, the owner, hold all the power. So, you can understand how an employee might feel intimidated, should they not feel comfortable talking to the boss. One option: don’t just implement top-down reviews, but bake in bottom-up reviews. Let your employees give you regular feedback, so you can become a better boss. After all, your learning curve may be as high as theirs!

“I will have an upward career path at your company.”
I know, with only 3 jobs in the entire company, so how much of a career path could there possibly be? Still, talented people want to climb. If you can’t provide the ladder, be open and honest about that. And understand that some employees will be with you for a limited time, before moving on to their next adventure. You may also find out that this expectation will motivate you to grow. One successful retailer I know said that he might’ve stayed small, but he wanted to create new jobs for his best employees.

I” will be mentored.”
By whom, you might ask? No really, younger employees want mentorship. That mentor could be you, if you’re willing to devote the time and attention. If not, perhaps it’s time to think creatively. For instance, what if you team up with other business owners to create a mentor network for everyone’s employees.

“I will be given lots of responsibilities right out of the chute.”
Okay, this one might be entirely realistic. If there’s one thing there’s plenty of in a micro business, it’s work. There’s no better way to learn how to do pretty much anything, from creating product to launching websites to plunging toilets (amirite, owners?) than to work at a small business. You as the owner just need to make sure that you develop your delegation skills and can successfully hand off responsibilities without too much micromanagement.

Were you surprised by any of these expectations? Hiring is just one of the many area where you’ll encounter a steep learning curve as you grow and professionalize your business. We cover the this and other challenges in our e-book “Growing Up: A guide for small business owners”

Featured image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash