How to make a solid business case for a new hire in 2024

Making a business case for a new hire in any company can often be an enduring and difficult process. The larger the company, the more likely it is you will be contending with the process, bureaucracy, annual earning reports, and general political battles. If it's a small to medium company you are working for, you may have to contend with cash flow volatility or previous instances of poor hires, that may provide resistance against your desire.

One thing can be sure of whether you're working at a startup or an established blue-chip: timing and approach will be key components of whether your business case for additional headcount is met with a tepid or warm reception.

Timing:

It's probably not the best idea to be sliding any ‘additional headcount requests’ under people’s doors or into email inboxes after 'a record low earning report’. Use your intuition to get a palpable feeling of whether your reasons for hiring more staff will resonate better based on the current mood at the Leadership table.

Likewise, use timing to your advantage. If there are certain times of the year when new hires are considered, build your business case for additional staff well in advance. This will ensure the request for additional staff has the best chance of success.

Also, while your intuition and opinion are important, seeking feedback and possible support from other stakeholders is useful, which is a key part of the approach.

Approach:

Meeting with other stakeholders is also important because, regardless of whether they offer some support or anecdotal testimony that can help sway the tide in your favour, it's also a great way to ‘dry-run’ your headcount justification pitch.

Other stakeholders will likely ask the ‘needling’ questions that the Department Head may ask as they dissect your recruitment business plan. This will ensure you refine your new hire proposal template to include all the key criteria likely to impact whether you get the green light on your plans for adding incremental headcount.

The three necessities to answer the What, Why and How of making a business case for a new hire.

But aside from the obvious things like being prepared and meeting with the decision maker(s) one-on-one to present your business case for new hires, it comes down to three classic questions.

What: problem are we trying to solve with this request to hire more people
Why: It's of utter importance (positives/benefits vs negatives/consequences).
How: This impacts the business and aligns with its overall goals & how we will find this perfect candidate.

To grasp the three items above, you need empathy, imagination (future possibilities, both good or bad), and some data.

The Method Actor (Empathy):

Whether you think Christian Bale or Shia LaBeouf's method acting exploits are extreme, the takeaway is the old adage of ‘walking a mile in a man's shoes’.

Before you go in all guns blazing, it's good to work back from ‘If I were the CEO/Decision maker, what are the types of things that I would need to see to justify a new hire?’.

For example, there could have been previous hires that hadn’t worked out, and you’d need to demonstrate ‘why this time it's different’. If the CEO prefers outsourcing, get some credible evidence that this position needs to be an internal hire.

Other factors, such as economic headwinds or factors outside your control within the business, could also be working against you. Your business case needs to focus on revenue, whether in future earnings or losses if the new position isn’t added.

(Imagination) Future benefits or potential consequences

Something like ‘stress’ might be considered a somewhat subjective metric, especially to a CEO who breathes and survives on H2O and stress. Still, data showing employee attrition, lower employee morale scores, and perhaps even decreasing customer satisfaction (in correlation to lower morale) may give you a business case for additional hires if it's clear the department is overworked.

Not all CEOs are as concerned with stress as Renholm Denholm, so you may be better off arguing a more ‘financial basis’ case.

So, how do you build your case on ‘money’? Look at all the ways this employee could have an impact and in turn, how they inhibit or allow the company to flourish and thus gain more market share.

What positive impact could this employee have on:

Let's use the case of a CTO at an IT company that needs a new customer support agent/network engineer and play some game theory.

And what would be some examples of potential negative outcomes associated with not hiring for this position?

Drilling into the {Data} and selecting the tools to cover the 'what, why and how'.

So now you've conceptualised the impact you think this new hire could have on the business, you need data to substantiate your projections and highlight the impending risks resulting from not hiring. Ideally, you'd use data as a catalyst to initiate this type of action. Still, sometimes, this can be subjective and tangible beyond the rigid walls of data, such as palpably low morale in the office.

Selecting which tools to tell the story of why this request for headcount is critical is also important.

A CSAT tool might highlight a decreasing trend in customer satisfaction, but if there has been no churn, that data alone may not be enough to build a strong case for a new hire. However, if a business application highlights delays in project completion or client dissatisfaction in written or verbal notes, this may strengthen the argument for adding to the team's headcount.

Different types of business applications will have qualitative and quantitative data that will help you build a business case for hiring additional team members.

These tools are there to highlight the what and why and illustrate how they will impact the business (positively or negatively)

How to hire for the newly approved headcount?

So you used all these tips and tools to get your request for a new hire granted, but now you need to find this 'silver bullet' candidate who will solve ALL the problems your fantastic pitch just highlighted. Well, maybe some of them. Read this article on finding the best recruitment platforms for your industry here and get a headstart on your recruitment strategy.