5 Reasons To Ask for More Staff (and Help Getting It)

5 Reasons To Ask for More Staff (and Help Getting It)

Asking for more staff can be difficult, especially when the business is trying to cut costs. But the work that’s piling up must get done and it’s on you to make it happen.

The key to getting your boss to approve more help is to offer a genuine business case. A strong case is one that ties to the company’s mission, values, and bottom line. Here are a few ways to do that.

Tips for requesting more staff

Requesting more staff is straightforward. These tips will help you get to the point quickly and stay focused.

Keep it short and sweet

Your boss is busy and has a packed inbox of emails to scroll through. So help them out by getting to the point quickly.

For example, you may feel obligated to start off by explaining why you’re emailing, so you don’t look like you’re bothering them unnecessarily. “This is actually counterproductive because if the person is very senior, they probably just want to know what you’re emailing them about so they can deal with it, then move on with their own schedules,” said product marketer Jeff Su.

He suggests getting to the main point first, then offering context around the ask. Grab tips for how he does it in this video.

Focus on business reasons and justifications

Give a solid, well-thought-out reason why you’re requesting extra help. Saying the team is overwhelmed is legitimate, but it’s not enough because adding extra hands costs money.  

Justify the expense by showing how having additional help benefits the business. You could tie the reason to company priorities such as furthering the company’s mission, meeting a critical customer deadline, or gaining new markets. You can even quantify how the extra help will improve company performance, and include a calculation of ROI (return on investment).

You may find some convincing points in the article, “The Surprising Cost of Delayed Product Launches.” Tim Sanders, VP of Client Strategy at Upwork, explains how projects delayed by staffing shortages can result in missing peak opportunities. And how missing those opportunities lead to long-lasting underperformance.

Offer clear solutions

State why hiring a specific role will help you tackle an existing problem. You may show how hiring another full-time employee would reduce the team’s overtime hours, which may lower their risk of burnout, and subsequently, turnover rates. If overtime hours are paid with a premium, the overall costs could be lower too.

Or if you have a major project falling behind schedule, you could show how contracting an experienced project manager can help the team complete it on time.

Sometimes it helps to give a little extra proof to back up your request. Just make sure the proof is easy to understand quickly. Graphs, videos, and case studies are good options. For example, you could show how other companies are growing by scaling their use of independent talent.

Limit the use of emotions

Keep your boss focused on the business repercussions of not having enough people. Be specific and if possible, show the impact with numbers. Afterall, which is more convincing…


Team members are so overworked that they’re stressed out and unhappy.

Or this?

People are working so fast to meet deadlines that they’re making more mistakes, which cost the company an additional $2,800 in overtime to fix, this month alone. The impacts of these mistakes are rippling throughout the organization, as customer complaints increased 12% and the company’s NPS score dropped 4 points month over month.

Make the final ask as clear as possible

State how many people you would like to add, what skills they’re providing, how the business will benefit from them, timelines, and anything else your boss may want to know.  

You don’t have to spend a lot of time putting together costs. Search reputable sites for free online tools like this staffing agency calculator. The tool quickly calculates staffing agency fees, so you can compare them to fees for engaging independent talent through platforms like Upwork’s Talent Marketplace™.

The best time to request hiring additional staff

In an ideal world, the best time to ask for additional staff is early in the fiscal planning process when you’re laying out strategic plans and annual budgets. Having everyone in place early on ensures you maintain production and performance.

But unexpected situations may arise that lead to a decline in performance. Watch out for these signs that it may be time for additional talent.

People don’t have time to do their main job

Many employees wear multiple hats, especially in smaller teams. But if members are getting bogged down with work that isn’t primarily what you hired them for, then it may be time to ask for more help.

For example, a controller’s job is to do high-level work that strategically guides a company’s financial decisions. But if they’re spending a large amount of their time doing clerical work like chasing down payments and creating monthly reports, the business isn’t leveraging the controller’s skills and knowledge, are they?

Customer service is faltering

Great customer service attracts and retains customers, so no company can afford to let service slip. A few key signs you should expand your team are when orders take longer to fill, satisfaction rates are dropping, and customers must reach out multiple times before an issue is resolved.

If you can’t afford to hire more employees, you can still get help. This video shows how Touchnote improved their service with independent talent.

People are cutting corners

People are often tempted to take shortcuts when there isn’t enough time to get everything done. They may bypass established processes so work gets delivered on time. They may compromise accuracy to keep a project on schedule. Or they may ignore safety practices, so they can move faster.

Protect employees and the business by making sure there are enough hands to do the work right the first time.

Turnover rates are going up

Work ebbs and flows, so many people will tolerate feeling overwhelmed and stressed for a short time. But if the hectic pace goes on for too long and it doesn’t look like relief will come soon, even your most dedicated employee will start looking for a different job.

Get ahead of the risk and protect your team’s mental well-being by keeping workloads balanced.

Sometimes, you may not need to hire another full-time employee. You may be able to lighten employee workloads by contracting independent talent to take care of repetitive work or work that’s not the employee’s strength.

People can’t stretch their skills enough

Employees can burn out quickly when they’re asked to do work that’s beyond their current capabilities. The reality is, asking people to do work outside of their skill sets will give you mediocre results at best.

That’s why when U.S.-based Amway produced a global video in five countries, they didn’t send a video team from the U.S. as they’d done in the past. Instead, they contracted local independent videographers in each country. The result: “We were able to break through cultural barriers in a way we never had been able to before, and with such authenticity and quality,” said Adrienne Young, Senior Art Director at Amway.

How to justify hiring additional staff

Few people like asking for additional staff because the answer is usually no. Most reasons boil down to increasing costs, but there is a way to present a solid case that shows it would cost the company more not to hire more help.

Improve productivity and performance

You may be able to shuffle along with your current team. However, you may be able to soar past your goals with the right person. That’s what Southside Blooms experienced when they wanted more customers and only had $150 to spend on advertising.

Instead of burning up their funds on ads that they hoped would work, they contracted an experienced PR specialist through Upwork. She turned their $150 to more than $50 million in media coverage.

Increase business value

Executives may be hesitant to add headcount if they think it would lower the company’s profitability. So show how the additional people will add business value instead.

When Kinetic Investments has skills gaps, they contract independent specialists through Upwork. “We work with many talented freelancers who have skills we don’t necessarily need full time, but rather on a part-time basis,” said David Merry, Partner and Cofounder at Kinetic Investments. “This approach, without a doubt, has a significant impact on our business.”

That’s not all. Two of their portfolio companies launched AI businesses using independent talent, which could raise Kinetic Investments’ value even higher. See their case study for details.

“We work with many talented freelancers who have skills we don’t necessarily need full time, but rather on a part-time basis. This approach without a doubt has a significant impact on our business.”
— David Merry, Partner and Co-founder at Kinetic Investments

Raise the company’s ability to compete

Your achievements are limited by the resources you have available. While it doesn’t make sense to hire for every skill you require, you can still cost-effectively expand the skills available to you.

See how the award-winning creative team at Upwork cuts through the noise to attract more business by creating a flexible workforce with unlimited skills.

5 benefits of increasing headcount

What’s good for the worker is often good for the business. See how increasing headcount can benefit the individual and the bottom line.

1. Balance workloads

If your team has too much to do, hiring a new member will lighten their load. You may also be able to redistribute tasks so that people focus on work that best fits their skills. When you’re better able to leverage each person’s skills and experience, you set them up to deliver higher-quality work and be happier doing it.

2. Access more ideas

Engaging new talent may offer new perspectives, boost creativity, and bring the company closer to its customers—especially if you prioritize hiring for diversity. Note that you can also get these benefits on a project basis by contracting independent professionals.

Having access to more ideas is one reason why Moadh Bukhash, Chief Marketing Officer at Emirates NBD regularly works with independent talent. He said:

“When you have access to millions of talented freelancers and small agencies around the world, you’re increasing the probability that you’ll come up with something great, something unique, that will cut through the noise.”

3. Reduce expenses

When there’s more work than people can handle on time, the company ends up paying for it in the end. This may look like paying more in overtime, missing out on opportunities, wasting resources from delayed or canceled projects, and losing customers due to service failures. Bringing on more team members can help minimize these added costs and the risk of losing your ability to compete.

4. Improve morale

Imagine going to work every day feeling like no matter how hard you try, you’re always drowning under the pressure to deliver more. That constant pressure and stress wear on a person until they dread going to work each day. Increasing help can relieve some of the pressure, so people have more balance at work and they can go home at a decent hour to have more balance outside of work.

5. Get what you’re missing

Adding more people can give you the skills, ideas, and time to do work that you can’t do right now but you must get done to stay competitive. Sometimes, you’re just missing a critical skill or extra hands to push a project across the finish line. When Riot Games needs a specific skill, they tap independent professionals through Upwork. Kemal Uysal, Head of Business Development and Operations at Riot Games said:

“Our organization is more agile; our team has access to additional resources, making their jobs easier; and simply put, our product outcomes are better—all thanks to Upwork.”

Example sample letter to request additional staff

Before sending an email asking your boss for more help, think through your argument justifying how more people will benefit the business.

Make sure the benefits align with the company’s mission/vision values, and business goals. And remember to be specific, as shown in this sample email.

Subject: Requesting permission to hire independent animation talent

Hi [boss’s name],
I’m requesting permission to contract [number] freelance animators to help complete a video project that’s integral to [project name]. The estimated costs are attached to this email.

We received a request to complete [number] videos by [date].

If we devote all our current resources to this project, and authorize overtime, we will only be able to complete [percentage] of the project by the deadline. And other current projects will also be delayed as a result.

With added help, we can not only complete the large project on time but also:

  • Save [dollars]. The cost of doing the project in-house with overtime hours [dollars].

  • Improve work quality. The independent talent have worked on animation projects for major brands including [name] and [name].

  • Maintain current deliverables. Having more help will enable the rest of the team to focus on the work they’re doing now so that business partners will receive their deliverables on schedule.

To make the deadline, we must contract talent by [date]. I’m eager to discuss this further if needed. Thank you.

What problems can additional staff address?

Adding the right people at the right time can address several common workforce problems including these.

Missing opportunities and increasing costs

The only way to squeeze more work out of a lean team is by having them work more hours. Paying for longer workweeks and overtime can be expensive and unsustainable. Not only would you burn through your budget faster, but you also risk burning people out.

And if you can’t get the help you need, the company could miss growth opportunities from projects that are pushed out or canceled. Watch this video to see the surprising cost of unfinished business by Tim Sanders, VP of Client Strategy at Upwork. Be sure to watch to the end where he shows ways to use your workforce more strategically, so you can see more projects across the finish line and on time.

Having too much to do

When your team has too much to do, it negatively affects the their ability to deliver in one or more way:

  • Some work just doesn’t get done
  • Work gets done but at a lower quality
  • Work gets done well but takes too long

As important, team members’ mental well-being and work-life balance may suffer too, as they endure being stressed and overwhelmed trying to keep up with heavy workloads. If your work volume fluctuates, it may not make sense to add employees. In such situations, many businesses contract independent talent to shoulder some of the load as they can quickly be ramped up and down as needed.

Read: How To Prevent Employee Burnout: 10 Strategies for Managers

Dipping morale and rising turnover rates

When team members are regularly overworked, doing work they don’t enjoy, or doing work that’s beyond what you hired them to do, they become unhappy. When they’re unhappy, they begin to disengage.

When they disengage, their work quality drops, they become less collaborative, and they may get less done in a day. Eventually, your unhappy worker starts looking for another job.

The engineering team at PGA of America proves it doesn’t have to be that way. Members remain highly engaged and creative because they’re able to extend their capabilities by working with independent professionals. See how PGA of America does it.

Get skilled help through Upwork

From solopreneurs to global enterprises, Upwork is purposefully designed to make it easier for any sized business to find the talent they need.

With over 10,000 skills available and talent located in more than 180 countries, you’ll find the exact person you need for any project. See all the ways you can get work done.


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Author Spotlight

5 Reasons To Ask for More Staff (and Help Getting It)
Brenda Do

Brenda Do is a direct-response copywriter who loves to create content that helps businesses engage their target audience—whether that’s through enticing packaging copy to a painstakingly researched thought leadership piece. Brenda is the author of "It's Okay Not to Know"—a book helping kids grow up confident and compassionate.

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