Human resources is certainly an indispensable element of business — you need someone to track payroll and benefits, to hire and fire employees, to manage workplace conflicts and more — but for most small businesses, HR is simply too expensive to keep in the house. That’s why HR outsourcing firms are so popular: They allow smaller ventures to benefit from professional human resources, and even more, they let clients pick and choose the services they need to ensure a customized HR experience.
So human resources outsourcing is likely familiar to you as a small business owner… but what about human resources consulting? Is this merely another name for outsourced HR? Who needs an HR consultant? If you’ve ever wondered what the deal is with HR consulting, read on.
What HR Consultants Do
You can find consultants for any department within an organization, from tech and marketing to sales and management. In these, as in human resources, consultants are third-party experts hired to observe current operations and improve performance where possible. Unlike outsourced HR, a human resources consulting firm doesn’t provide you with HR services; rather, they verify that your organization’s in-house HR is functioning as optimally as possible to ensure that you aren’t wasting money, time or human capital on efforts that do not do your company any good. Typically, HR consultants work with the four Ps:
- Programs. Looking for or developing a human resources plan or program for an organization to employ that will facilitate HR effectiveness.
- Processes. Creating protocol for HR staff to follow to enact the HR plan.
- Policies. Establishing rules for the organization and for HR itself.
- Practices. Creating an employee handbook, organizing activities like orientation and further developing the customs of HR.
Additionally, HR consultants will advise you on improvements to your current HR system, which might entail acquiring more in-house HR staff, alternating the tools your HR team uses or outsourcing different services to qualified HROs and/or PEOs. In truth, there are dozens of responsibilities an HR consultant can shoulder to enhance your organization.
Who HR Consultants Are
Not anyone can do what an HR consultant does; it requires notable expertise not just in HR but also in most departments within an organization. While HR consulting is not a regulated filed — i.e. there are no required certifications or licenses to call oneself an HR consultant — there are a few generally accepted qualifications that make for a valuable consultant, to include:
Usually, HR consultants work either freelance or for an established HR consulting firm. Lone consultants are usually working to build their brand and gain clients, while larger firms have a greater range of services available. Thus, you can control exactly what kind of consulting you receive — and at what price — by researching your consulting options and selecting a consultant that fits your requirements exactly.
Why You Might Need HR Consulting
Not every organization needs HR consulting — but most do. Consultants help companies that are struggling in any way or form to integrate HR efficiently and effectively, and because most organizations have trouble with HR at some point, consultants are usually in high demand. If your business is new, it’s a good idea to hire an HR consultant to start your HR efforts off on the right foot. Any time your business grows or expands, you should bring your consultant back to advise on modifications to your existing HR plan. If you aren’t satisfied with your current HR output, a consultant can identify bottlenecks and improve efficiency; and if you suspect that your HR department might be capable of more, a consultant can tell you what and how. It’s safe to say that any organizational change that affects HR dramatically should warrant a visit from a qualified and trusted consultant.
No business operates without human capital, which means that human resources is an essential department no matter your industry or operation. If you’ve never taken advantage of an HR consultant, it might be worth your time and money to see what a consultant can do for your company, today.