The Christmas jumper is making a comeback this year, I hear, and will no doubt sit alongside gloves and socks aplenty under our Christmas trees later this month.

But from my conversations with businesses in the city I get the feeling that, for a lot of people, an extra pair of hands around the office would be far more welcome than an extra pair of socks or gloves.

But when do you make the leap? For small businesses in particular, taking the plunge and recruiting full time staff can feel daunting at a time when many are still feeling uncertain about the future. So why not look at some more flexible options?

Part-time employment can help to make the decision to recruit a little less daunting. Temporary staff are readily available, but often perceived as expensive. Really, it boils down to the kind of helping hands you’re looking for.

We’re seeing more and more demand for interns, particularly from businesses whose workload is cyclical in nature, or who win project work that has the potential to put the existing team under extended pressure for a relatively short period of time.

As a business owner, internships allow you to reap the benefits of adding skills and resources to your team exactly when you need them, over a fixed period of time, at a pre-determined price.

And, in return, you are giving something very important back. Internships give undergraduates incredibly valuable ‘‘real world’’ business experience, help them to develop their skills, make contacts and – importantly for them – earn some money.

We run student internships over the summer in between years of study, or on a part-time basis throughout the year. We also run graduate internships, which are fixed-term contracts for our students following graduation.

It’s not the solution in every situation, but it’s certainly worth considering as one of your options if you are looking for additional resources in your business. Very often, we find that for people who have never considered interns, our graduates or undergraduates can fit the bill perfectly – unlike that Christmas jumper, which will inevitably be several sizes too big and involve significant time and resources to exchange in the post-Christmas shopping hullabaloo.

Season’s greetings, from all at the Business School.