Understanding the Importance of Calculating Employee Costs Per Hour in Business

In the realm of business management, understanding the full spectrum of expenses involved in maintaining a workforce is crucial for financial planning, pricing strategies, and overall organisational health. Among these calculations, determining what employees cost per hour stands out as a fundamental metric. This figure goes beyond the surface level of salaries or hourly wages to encompass the comprehensive financial impact of employing an individual. Here’s why knowing this number is indispensable for businesses of all sizes.


But before we get into that, we just wanted to give a quick shoutout. To get you started, we created a FREE Excel Employee Hourly Rate Calculator tailored for Builders. Download from here!


Comprehensive Cost Perspective

The true cost of an employee per hour integrates various components beyond the basic wage. It includes taxes, insurance, superannuation, allowances/benefits, leave, equipment, training, productivity (downtime) and even the space the employee occupies. This holistic view helps businesses accurately assess their labour costs, enabling more informed budgeting and financial forecasting. Without this insight, business may underestimate their expenses, leading to budget shortfalls and reduced profitability or worse yet quoting jobs at a unknown loss.

Pricing Strategy Precision

For businesses, particularly those in the service sector, building or manufacturing, calculating the per-hour cost of employees is instrumental in setting prices. Understanding these costs ensures that pricing covers not just the materials and direct labour, but also the overhead associated with employees. This precision prevents under-pricing, safeguards margins, and supports sustainable growth.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Accurate knowledge of employee costs per hour is vital for effective budgeting and financial planning. It allows businesses to forecast labour costs for new projects, decide on hiring needs, and manage cash flow more effectively. Companies can also identify opportunities for cost savings, whether through process improvements, automation, or renegotiating supplier contracts.

Employee Utilisation and Productivity Analysis

Analysing the cost of employees per hour in relation to their output or the revenue they generate can provide valuable insights into workforce efficiency. This analysis can highlight areas where training might be needed, processes could be optimised, or certain tasks should be outsourced. It’s a critical component in maximizing the return on investment in human capital.

Competitive Advantage

In highly competitive markets, efficient cost management can be a significant advantage. Knowing the detailed costs associated with your workforce enables a business to be more agile, adjusting pricing, and operations to seize market opportunities without sacrificing profitability. It can also inform strategic decisions regarding technology investments, workforce expansion, or contraction and operational shifts to maintain or improve competitive positioning.

How to Calculate Employee Costs Per Hour

Calculating the true cost of an employee per hour involves several steps:

Step 1 – Base Salary or Wages: Start with the base pay (annual salary or hourly wage).

Step 2 – Allowances and Benefits: Add the costs of benefits (annual leave, long service leave, superannuation contributions, etc.), typically expressed as a percentage of the base salary.

Step 3 – Taxes and Insurance: Include employer-paid taxes (Payroll tax, Fringe benefits tax, etc.) and workers’ compensation insurance.

Step 4 – Overhead: Factor in overhead costs related to the employee (office space, utilities, equipment, motor vehicles and supplies).

Step 5 – Training and Development: Allocate a portion of the costs associated with training and professional development.

Step 6 – Productivity adjustment for time about to derive income: Consider how productive an employee can be, if employees are not 100% productive 100% of the time, then a realistic adjust to there cost needs to be made. For example, an apprentice at school is not productive while at school so if the are at school 25% of there working year your hourly costs should be adjusted to reflect this.

Dividing the total annual cost by the number of working hours in a year (considering full-time work as 2,080 hours – 40 hours/week x 52 weeks) provides the true cost per hour.


In summary, understanding what employees cost per hour is more than an exercise in financial diligence; it’s a strategic imperative that affects almost every aspect of business operations and strategic planning. By accurately calculating these costs, businesses can make informed decisions that drive efficiency, profitability, and sustainability in the long run. As the business landscape evolves, this understanding becomes ever more critical in maintaining a competitive edge and fostering a healthy bottom line.

Navigating through the nuances of calculating the true hourly cost of employees can be complex. To streamline this process and ensure accuracy, leveraging tools designed for this purpose can be incredibly beneficial.

To get you started, we invite you to use our FREE Excel Employee Hourly Rate Calculator tailored for Builders.

This tool is designed to simplify the calculation by accounting for all the factors mentioned in this blog, providing you with a clear picture of your employee costs per hour. Whether you’re planning your budget, strategizing pricing, or analysing your workforce efficiency, our calculator is a step towards making informed, strategic decisions for your business.

Download Our Free Employee hourly rate calculator


Try Our Hourly Rate Calculator Now

Take the guesswork out of financial planning and gain insights into how to optimise your workforce costs. With the right tools and knowledge, you can turn the challenge of managing employee costs into a strategic advantage for your business.


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