I am CEO of GreenPal, which is best described as Uber for lawn care.

As our team scales in size, something I struggle with is when do we hire a full-time HR person? Is it tied to number of employees? Gross sales? Also, what is the tipping point to consider outsourcing HR needs vs. bringing it in-house?

Bryan Clayton GreenPal


Your problem is a great one to have because it means that you're offering a service that is valued by consumers.

Unfortunately, a quick review of the research indicates that there is no clear answer to your question. For example, one report found that the average ratio of HR department staff to total employees was 1 to 100; however, another report put the average HR-to-employee ratio for firms with fewer than 100 employees at 2.7 to 100. Another study noted some industries (e.g. banking, government) have a higher HR-to-employee ratio, while others (e.g. retail, health services) have a lower ratio.

As a result, it really comes down to you and your ability to complete the necessary HR activities, including recruitment, selection, training, compensation, labor law compliance, etc. If you feel like you're falling short, then it might be time to start thinking about getting some HR assistance. It could also be that you're able to keep up with all of these activities, but doing them takes time away from growing your business more. Again, this would suggest getting help.

Regarding outsourcing, remember that it takes time to find a high-quality firm and ensure it is clear on what you want. You could hire a part-time employee, but you'll need to collaborate with that person. Outsourcing is a fairly popular option these days. I would just encourage you to do your homework if you decide to outsource. It will take some time and effort to go either route, but, if it frees you up to spend more time growing your business, it could be worth it in the long run.

About the author

Kevin Henderson is an assistant professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College Of Business.