Six things to consider when choosing the right HR Consultant

1. Establishing your need

It is common trait in today's fast paced market that organisational growth can happen in rapid, large bursts. Being able to effectively manage your business during times of crucial development plays a very important role in shaping your future prospects.

Human Resources is one of the most integral parts of any business. In times of growth, small and medium enterprises need to be able to focus on their business strategies rather than being hampered down with issues on how to develop and maintain a supporting infrastructure for such growth.

To begin, your entrepreneurial endeavours may be a solo act, but suddenly you may find yourself in the situation where you have to hire staff to help manage your workload. Having to deal with this new growth, and the added pressure of HR engagements, can prove to be unnecessarily time consuming.

In medium to large businesses, where HR tends to become decentralised, a restructuring and upgrading of HR management might prove to be beneficial to the streamlined growth of the company. It is in cases such as these that the option of outsourcing Human Resource management becomes a viable, if not necessary option, to the effective and healthy development of a company.

2. Solving your problem - determining expertise

It is essential to choose a HR consultant who is knowledgeable in your specific requirements. This will be determined by the type of organisation, workplace flexibility and development, and fundamentally the task to be achieved.

HR requirements in a more traditional industry sector may be geared towards a more employee based role, from recruitment until retirement; employee welfare, management of unions, employee and industrial relations, management of disciplinary activity and Employment Tribunal and long term career and succession planning. You need to find a consultant who is experienced and specialised in these areas.

Whereas in those new, more creative industries, you may require a consultant who is more experienced in HR management and whose experience includes more creative planning for the implementation of strategic practices, such as fast track training, managing a fluid workforce engaged a high performance environment, fixed-term employment, short-term as well as long term career planning, innovative performance management, compensation and benefits plans.

3. Evaluating the competition

Some of the services which you may require from your HR consultant at workforce level include education, training, motivation and data management. At managerial level, your HR consultant should offer such services as enhancements in policies and procedures, organisational change, managerial effectiveness and legal compliance.

Your HR consultant should offer various methods of training to their clients from junior operative to senior management levels. Such training can be presented as both interactive classroom sessions or regular bulletin updates delivered via newsletter or online media e.g. email. What method of training you choose will depend on the accessibility and size of your organisation.

Employee motivation is of great importance to an organisation operating in a high pressure environment. Your HR consultant should assist you to generate constructive assessments in employee effectiveness, as well as surveys dealing with employee satisfaction. Identifying such issues will help to accurately resolve them, thus driving the effectiveness of your company.

Your HR consultant should assist in the design of new policies, employee handbooks and operational guides to bring everybody in the organisation to a level of understanding as far as procedural matters are concerned. In light of this, having outsourced your HR management to a consultant, you should be kept up-to-date and fully briefed on any new changes in legislation.

Your HR consultant should ensure all your policies, procedures and employee interventions are in keeping with best practice and legal requirements, and assist in the design and implementation of new or revised policies and procedures to best comply with changes in the legislation.

In today's ever changing marketplace, organisational change is an unavoidable part of any forward moving enterprise. Your HR consultant should offer a range of solutions to ensure that any organisational change, including redundancies and reengineering of processes, is managed.

Effectively in line with good practice as well as ensuring that the welfare of your employees and business is not adversely affected by the change.

A great driving force behind the success of organisational change is managerial effectiveness. Your HR consultant should provide training and coaching to enable leaders to handle difficult issues such as disciplinaries, grievances and dispute resolution. Furthermore, your HR consultant should provide effective methods in dealing with organisational change, whilst keeping employees supported and motivated. Effective management stems from having a clear perception of your company's vision and goals, and therefore the design and implementation of effective performance management programs that are directly linked to these goals should be of high priority to anybody entering into an outsourced HR system.

4. Payment and Contractual Arrangement

Your HR Consultant should provide you with a written proposal for the work to be undertaken, to include costs for each, or individual elements of the project. Their costs should be based upon time-related activities, not headcount equations.

Any contractual arrangement should be reviewed annual, and renewed upon a revision of the service to be provided, relevant to the business requirements, and not repeated regardless of business demands and operational needs.

Payment terms should be flexible, with the option to purchase as a one off activity or in monthly or agreed staged payments, whichever is appropriate for the activity. Your HR consultant should guarantee that any project will be completed on-time, with your priorities coming before the consultants and within-budget.

5. Return on Investment

Your HR consultant should be able to measure and over time demonstrate a return on investment, through (for example) increased productivity, reduction in labour turnover, reduction in absence, increased internal promotion, and reduction in recruitment costs. Ask your HR Consultant how these measures will be established and a likely timeframe for change.

Upon request, testimonials and case studies should be provided to demonstrate effectiveness and client satisfaction.

6. Other HR-related services

Even the smallest of businesses may need to call upon the services of those listed below, and who do you choose? In anticipation, your HR Consultant should have assessed the expertise of a range of service providers and able to progress matters on your behalf.

For example:

  • Preferential rates in partnering with an Employment Lawyer;
  • Employer Protection Insurance, protecting you against the unbudgeted costs arising from Employment Tribunal Activity;
  • Private Health Care arrangements, including occupational health assessments;
  • Health & Safety management and audit;
  • Payroll provider; selected recruitment agencies.