Maximizing the Value of a Full-Time Employee

Employee utilization rates may be the most ignored or misunderstood stat in small businesses and law firms. Instead of using quantifiable data, many small businesses rely on emotions or intuition to determine when it is time to hire a new employee.

What metrics is your company using to ensure an employees’ time is effectively utilized. Is there accurate data available to help determine when to make a new hire?

It is hard to imagine a law firm that generates revenue through billable hours hiring an additional lawyer if their current lawyers are only billing 10 hours each week.


We define employee utilization as the hours an employee is engaged in productive work divided by the total hours the employee is paid.

Generally, employees are paid for 2,080 hours annually (including vacation and sick time, excluding overtime). If you expect your employees to generate 1,352 billable hours each year, their utilization rate will be 65%.

Once an employee consistently reaches the utilization rate goal, it is time to hire an additional employee to continue growing your business. If the employee continuously fails to reach the utilization rate goal, it may be time to reevaluate if you have the best employee for the job.


For employees that do not generate revenue through billable hours, such as my companies accounting team members, require them to maintain a work log each day detailing what they worked on and how long it took. A simple spreadsheet is easy to create for each employee to log into throughout the day. This is a valuable tool for employees that work remotely and those that work in the office.

Understanding how much time employees spend on productive work versus time spent surfing the internet, emailing friends, and shopping will help companies increase productivity. Just knowing accountability measures are in place will quickly increase productivity among team members. A Google search on office worker productivity statistics may surprise you. The average office worker is productive 31% of their workday. In an 8 hour day, employees are not doing productive work for 5.5 hours, yet companies are paying for those hours.


To maximize employee utilization, here are some best practices to consider:

  1. Effective Workforce Planning
    Analyze your business needs, forecast workloads, and plan your workforce accordingly. This involves understanding the demands of different projects, departments, or seasons and aligning your staff resources accordingly.
  2. Clear Communication and Goal Setting
    Ensure that employees have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations. Set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals with your employees.  This enables them to prioritize their tasks and utilize time effectively.
  3. Efficient Task Assignment
    Match employees’ skills, expertise, and interests with the tasks they handle. Assign tasks based on strengths and provide opportunities for growth and development.
  4. Optimize Work Processes
    Streamline workflows and eliminate unnecessary steps or bottlenecks that can hinder productivity. Encourage employees to provide input on process improvements and implement their suggestions when possible. This will lead to increased efficiency and reduce time wasting activities.
  5. Regular Performance Monitoring
    Implement a system to track and monitor employee performance, enabling management to identify areas where employees may be underutilized or overburdened. Provide constructive feedback and offer support to help them overcome challenges and improve performance.
  6. Training and Skill Development
    Invest in training programs and provide opportunities for employees to enhance their skills. This helps them become more versatile and capable of handling a broader range of tasks, improving their overall utilization.
  7. Flexibility and Cross-Functional Collaboration
    Promote a culture of flexibility and cross-functional collaboration. Encourage employees to share their skills, knowledge, and experiences with one another. Foster a dynamic and resourceful workforce that can adapt to changing needs and fill gaps in different areas.
  8. Effective Time Management
    Work with employees on how to set priorities, avoid multitasking, and minimize distractions. Encourage breaks to maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid employee burnout.
  9. Technology and Automation
    Deploy tools to streamline repetitive tasks, minimize manual effort, and free up employees’ time. Implementing the right tools can significantly increase overall productivity and employee utilization.
  10. Recognition and Rewards
    Recognize and reward employees for their achievements and efforts. A positive and motivating work environment can boost employee morale, engagement, and overall productivity.

Remember, maximizing employee utilization is not synonymous with overworking employees. It is crucial employees are able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. An alternative to overworking employees or hiring new employees before revenues justify them is Amata’s on-demand virtual assistants, executive assistants and paralegals. Amata can assist with overflow work, back-up when a full-time staff member is out or on a temporary basis while the company is searching for a new full-time employee.

Would you like to speak with Amata team members to find someone that is a fit for you? Contact us today.

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