Should I hire an Employee or a Virtual Assistant?

As your business grows, so does the mountain of day-to-day tasks needing your attention. It’s clear: to sustain this growth, you need help.

You might be left wondering: Should you expand your team with an employee or a Virtual Assistant (VA)? 

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant works remotely and provides administrative, bookkeeping, creative and other specialist services to businesses. They will either be self-employed or work in a larger virtual assistant agency like Strictly Savvy.  

With a virtual assistant, you have the flexibility to scale the time they work for you up and down as needed, without paying for more than the exact hours they take.           

While both an employee and a VA are going to quickly help you tackle your to-do list, there's a few key differences between them and depending on what you're hoping to achieve, these will help you decide on the most suitable option. 

Let's start with a cost breakdown:

At face value when you look at the hourly rate of a VA vs. an employee, a VA appears to be the more expensive option. However, there are additional factors to consider. 

Employee vs Virtual Assistant cost comparison

* The hourly rate for virtual assistants is based on the average cost across the virtual assistant industry in 2022.  
 * Hours Per Year Worked for a full-time employee is 2,080 hours, minus leave and public holidays for employees. 
 * Hours Per Year Worked for a VA has been calculated at 520, (10 hours per week). We have found this to be equivalent to a full-time equivalent role which has been streamlined, automated and 100% productive. 

As you can see, an employee's salary doesn’t just stop at the hourly rate alone.

ACC, paid time off (annual, sick, bereavement, domestic violence leave), as well as statutory holidays, and Kiwisaver all need to be factored in. 

Recruitment costs should also be considered.

By the time you have advertised the position and purchased all equipment for a new employee (think desk, chair, laptop, mouse, keyboard, monitor, subscriptions like Microsoft Office), the costs can easily be in the thousands.  

A VA on the other hand doesn’t incur the additional cost of equipment. As they are essentially contractors, they provide their own equipment and home office set-up. Recruitment may take time, but doesn't incur the cost of advertising for a position (instead you can browse a directory like https://www.nzvirtualassistants.com/ to find a good match).  

Productive time is also a really important factor to consider 

An employee (whether full or part time) will never be 100% productive throughout their workday, as you pay them for an entire working day including downtime, the moments they step away from their desk to make a hot drink, chat to a team member, or use the bathroom.  

Some studies have shown that employees are productive as little as 25% of their day, but in this case let’s give employees the benefit of the doubt and say that they are 60% productive on average, as shown in the graphic above. 

Even with this generous assumption around employee productivity, you’re still paying them for the 40% of time they are unproductive.  

A VA only tracks and charges you the exact time spent completing your tasks, so will remain 100% productive. You won’t pay for breaks and leave as you do for an employee.

An employee is the right choice for you if:

  • You want a team member in the office/on site with you 
  • You can afford the startup and ongoing costs associated with an employee 
  • You don’t need to scale the amount of support up or down 
  • You’re looking for a person to grow within their role/the company 
  • You have a full-time workload that needs completing all throughout the day, every day, and anticipate that will continue long term 
  • You want someone that is only working for you, not splitting their time between multiple clients 
  • You can cover with another team member when they are sick or on leave, or the workload is fine to be left during their leave 
  • You’re comfortable managing a team member and adhering to all HR legislation 

A virtual assistant is the right choice for you if:

  • The time that it will take to complete your tasks varies from week to week 
  • You don’t want to incur startup or ongoing costs associated with an employee 
  • You need the ability to easily scale your service up or down as needed without running into HR regulatory issues 
  • You want the ability to harness a full team of experts to complete your tasks (if you are looking at hiring a VA from an agency) 
  • You need someone to always attend to the tasks in the role and you couldn’t have the tasks left during their leave (an agency can have a back-up person step in to cover) 
  • You need to bridge a gap with your workload before employing a full-time team member 
  • You want to trial having someone in a role to gauge the workload 
  • You’re looking for someone already set up to work remotely to reduce overheads 
  • You only want to pay for productive time 

We hope that this analysis has helped you with your decision between hiring a VA or an employee for your business.

Want to learn more about the work that a VA can do for you? Check out our free resource 101 things to delegate to a virtual assistant', or book a free discovery call with our team to discuss.  


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