Human resources departments have a broad scope of work which includes recruitment, retention, onboarding, standardisation, employment policies, compensation and benefits, employee relations, workforce development, and much more. These tasks can be overwhelming for any organisation, let alone small organisations with limited internal resources. Thankfully, many of these functions can be streamlined and outsourced.
Human Resources Consultants (HR Consultants) can provide extensive benefits to any organisation. By providing an outside perspective and resources, HR consultants can augment existing HR functions, provide qualified and specific expertise, and limit ongoing expenditures to improve the overall performance and satisfaction of your workforce.
Not every company can elucidate what their HR needs are or how they might benefit from bringing in an outside HR consultant. That's why it's important to understand exactly what HR consultants do, what functions they provide, and how their skills and tools can make your employees the best that they can be.
What Function do HR Consultants Perform?
HR Consultants are specially-trained HR professionals. They are tasked to perform, analyse, or advise on specific or multiple HR activities. The most common reason for bringing in an HR consultant to your business is incorporating their expertise, skills, or manpower to complement your HR team and account for any deficiencies that may exist in your HR system.
Your current HR employees may not have the knowledge base or skill set to accomplish specific tasks, so HR consultants can be hired on a project basis. They also provide an outside perspective where the consultant can focus on specific challenges or conflicts and problem solve objectively without getting involved with company politics.
The responsibilities of HR Consultants can include some or all of the following, depending on the needs of the company:
- Advising management on human resources policies and procedures.
- Analyse a company's current policies and recommend improvements.
- Develop, revise, and implement human resources policies and procedures.
- Ensure HR functions are in compliance with established laws and regulations.
- Conduct audits of HR activities to ensure optimal performance.
- Develop methods to compile and analyse data for reports and special projects.
- Assist with employee relations activities, appraisals, and SMART objectives.
- Design and implement training sessions related to specific HR programs.
- Provide mediation, counselling, and conflict resolution.
The Benefits of HR Consultants vs. Internal Teams
If you're considering outsourcing some of your HR functions, it's important to analyse how this can benefit you and whether this is something that's best for your workforce. There are a few factors to consider when hiring an HR Consultant:
HR Consultants are experts in their field and generally have a ton of experience behind them to understand the dynamics of a vast array of organisations. Resource-constrained businesses are not likely to have a budget to permanently hire someone with such expertise, so outsourcing certain functions as and when needed can be a much more cost effective solution.
One of the main benefits of hiring an HR Consultant versus having an internal HR team is the double edged sword of being immersed in company culture. Although internal human resources personnel can develop the ability to navigate company politics, this also means they're more likely to have biases or subjective preferences that don't necessarily align with business needs. Decisions need to be made as objectively as possible, and though external consultants may not understand the company dynamics as well, this can be at an advantage to the client.
External consultants need to be experts in their field. Consultancy firms with good reputations have built up multiple practices that work for a large variety of organisations through vast experience and exposure. They have done the hard work of figuring out best practices, and have implemented and adjusted them time and again to meet specific business objectives, giving them a wealth of experience to use in different situations.
Outsourcing to an HR Consultancy doesn't have to be an either/or decision. Sometimes, an internal team can work synergistically with external consultants to harness the best of both worlds. Successful organisations have a strong understanding of where their internal competencies lie and where their capabilities have limitations.
When to use an HR Consultant
Small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as large corporations, choose to outsource HR functions to increase performance, competencies, and employee relations. Commonly cited rationales for outsourcing to an HR consultant include:
- To improve and streamline human resources policies and procedures.
- Advising on employment law to ensure compliance across the business activities.
- Minimise ongoing costs of hiring an internal HR team.
- Implement a training and development strategy for your workforce.
- Augment HR support for employee relations so managers can focus on the bottom line.
- Implement an effective recruitment or talent acquisition process to build highly skilled and productive teams.
What Value Do HR Consultants Provide?
Businesses should consider HR consults for a variety of reasons. Small businesses may need the extra support and expertise in certain HR functions. If a business doesn't have the budget for an internal HR team, external consultants can be hired as and when they are needed for specific projects.
Human capital is a business's most integral asset, so investing in and developing that asset is likely to improve every aspect of the business. Human resources is no longer viewed solely as a support function with executives acknowledging that successful organisations require a healthy partnership between HR and business functions. By incorporating standardised processes and systems, HR Consultants can extract measurable qualitative and quantitative data which demonstrate the return on investment of a productive and happy workforce.
Additionally, new and ever-changing legislation surrounding employee hiring, wellness, and protection requires greater attention and accountability from businesses. HR Consultants are ideally suited to meet these needs.
What certificates / training should skilled HR consultants have?
In order to succeed as an HR Consultant, a wealth of experience and relevant qualifications are necessary. An HR Consulting career typically begins with an undergraduate degree in Human Resources management, communications, business management, or other relevant fields of study. It is not uncommon for HR Consultants to also have a postgraduate certification or Master's degree in Human Resources, business, or leadership. They can also further their education and knowledge within certifications in specialised human resources functions.
HR Consultants certified in performing DISC assessments are invaluable to the organisations they work with. Having the knowledge and training to implement DISC assessments and interpret and debrief DISC profile reports gives organisations a competitive edge in improving employee relations, building effective teams, and leveraging the strongest attributes of their employees.