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Special Events Blog
MIchelle Loretta Photo by Barbie Hull Photography

Three Things to Consider When Expanding Your Event Team

Hiring people is a lot like marrying them--be sure you make the right match when expanding your special events team.

Bravo! You are booking enough events to expand your team. Congratulations!

What next?

Whether you've hired in the past or this is your first time dipping into the employment waters, you'll want to consider the three following factors before hiring an employee or contractor.

1. Can you afford to hire someone?
Labor and rent are the two of the most significant expenses of any organization, of any size. Your employees' wages are the significant investment you make to further your business (and buy you some sanity). What can you expect to pay someone? It depends.

You'll want to consider the following factors:
• Their experience in the field
• Their experience in the workforce
• Any specific skills they bring to the job
• The position that they will fill

When determining hourly wages, convert the wage to an annual amount to determine whether the amount sounds like a fair yearly salary. (Starting salaries for college grads tend to average $30,000 to 40,000 depending on the region of the United States and the job. New York salaries, for example, can be much higher.)

Speaking of hourly wages versus salary: For employers in the U.S., make sure you understand the difference between non-exempt vs. exempt employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines which positions are exempt from overtime and which are not. Hot take: Most event professional jobs are non-exempt, meaning you'll need to pay your employees overtime as defined by your state’s requirements. The exception might be if that employee is managing others.

In addition to accounting for reasonable wages for the job and the market, you'll want to consider taxes and any other state and federal compensations. Your share as an employer will be about 7.5 percent for Medicare, Social Security and federal unemployment. And you may have another 0-8 percent of state tax requirements (workers’ compensation, for example) depending on where you live.

Also, your checks to the IRS will feel more substantial than this because you will be withholding a portion of employees’ check for taxes. But don't let that confuse you. Your share of taxes as an employer is only a piece of their benefits. Employees are required to have taxes withheld from their checks. Ultimately, you have to be realistic with what you can afford, but the added perks of working in a creative field like events appeal to the people who have a genuine love for the industry.

Are you feeling dizzy? A great tool to utilize is Gusto, a cloud-based payroll program. It allows you to manage payroll and tax-related issues.

2. Will a contractor suffice? Or will you be required to classify the new hire as an employee?
Independent contractors work for themselves, not you. This is an important distinction, because many employers want loyalty and control over their staffs. The reality is that when you hire contractors, you are hiring them as independent service providers. You are their client. Also, it's vital that you define the terms of the service they will provide in an agreement.

Classifying your new hire as a contractor has its benefits. The most attractive of these are not paying payroll taxes. The contractor will be required to pay taxes based on a 1099 income, and you would be exempt from employer taxes.

The IRS wants to make sure that the contractor has complete control over his or her work. Control is the determinant in whether you have an employee or a contractor. Here are the criteria as defined (ambiguously) by the IRS for independent contractors:   

Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?

Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker's job controlled by the payer? (These include things like how the worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)

Type of relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e., pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue, and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

In a nutshell, an employee is someone who is going to work, represent and evolve in your company.

3. How will I train this individual not only to do the job but to embody key qualities that I want represented on behalf of my company?
The new employee is going to have to be able to do the tasks of the job, along with embodying your company's culture. Consider hiring someone who possesses the values of your organization. Training a person on the "tasks" of the job is much easier than teaching someone to be fun, outgoing, personable and responsible.

The best way to do this is to identify these qualities during the interview and hiring process. Ask situational questions that have the candidates describe how they respond to certain situations. This will give you insight into whether they mirror your company's core philosophy.

This process can be overwhelming but try not to overthink it! If you know you need help, give it a try. There is no reason you need to bring in a full-time employee. Sometimes that 5-to-10-hour/week hire will be the best decision you ever made. This will free you up to do so much more with your business. And, these employees provide a great training ground for you to learn how to become a better manager.

Michelle Loretta is a business consultant and financial strategist for wedding and event professionals. As founder of Sage Wedding Pros, she blends her past as an accountant for Deloitte, a sales and marketing manager for DDLA, a merchandiser for Coach, and a stationery entrepreneur to strengthen wedding businesses worldwide. Sage Wedding Pros is the creator of the hiring toolbox for wedding professionals: The People Plan. She has been invited to speak at a number of industry conferences, including NACE Experience and The Special Event.

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