If you are a small business you may feel that you do not require a full-time HR advisor or any HR support at all.

If you feel that you do not require any HR support at all and you employ people then here is something to think about. You will have an accountant to help you manage your finances effectively and you will have an insurance company to protect your assets.

Why would you not have an HR Advisor to help look after and protect you most valuable assets…your employees?

If you are a busy business owner in a family business, a growing business, a larger establishment or even a start-up business, having outsourced HR Support can help in so many different aspects.

A lot of people assume that HR is all about hiring and firing, helping businesses comply with employment legislation.  Yes, this is a part of what HR offer but we believe HR is a lot more than that.  Outsourced HR Support and Advice can help you in your business with:-

  • Performance
  • Developing People
  • Employee Engagement
  • Succession Planning
  • Managing Absence
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Help and Improve Productivity
  • Recruitment
  • Growing and developing your Business
  • Leadership
  • Culture

Where do you start with HR in your business?

If you are a small business with less than 5 employees, you may have assigned HR responsibilities to someone else in the company i.e. someone in your finance team. If this is the case, we recommend that you have some form of HR support and guidance, someone you can turn to get advice when required.  You should be able to do this on an ad-hoc basis without the need to be tied into any long-term contract.

For this type of business, you will need help and support to ensure you have adequate contracts of employment and Employee Handbook that is fit for purpose, containing all the relevant policies and procedures.

Employee handbooks are something that can be developed through time and do not need to be 70 pages but these are the main factors that a handbook should include:

  • Disciplinary and Grievance Procedure
  • Absence notification process
  • Trigger points for managing absence in the workplace.
  • Social Media and IT policy

In terms of your contracts of employment, you should always issue a contract within 8 weeks of the employee starting although it is good to get into the practice of issuing these just before the start date.  We always advise our clients to put themselves in their employee’s shoes, would you work for a company that didn’t issue a contract?

Other things to make sure you cover in your contracts are:-

  • Job Title
  • Location
  • Pay
  • Pay Date
  • Contracted Hours
  • Notice Period
  • And any other contractual benefits

If you employ more than 10 people, and dependent on your sector, the range of HR support and advice you will require will be greater than a business just starting out.

Our advice when looking for outsourced HR support is to do your research.

Do you want someone to be on the other end of the telephone or someone that will have a more personal approach? Shop around and look for testimonials and references.  You might prefer to deal with someone who has experience in your industry and sector, for example a family business, or you may prefer someone who has experience across multiple sectors which could add value to your own business.  As part of your research, check where the HR Consultants/Advisors have gained their experience.

You may also wish to consider engaging an HR Consultant who has an HR professional qualification, for example the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).  There are various levels of certification and levels of professional membership you can find out more here :-


The advantage of the CIPD, qualifications as it demonstrates and HR professional’s competence in the field.  However, there are good HR Consultants out there who don’t have the certificate to support their experience, therefore it’s up to you to do this research.

Do I need to be tied into a long-term contract?

This depends what you’re looking for.  I would suggest you don’t as there are a lot of HR providers happy to work on a retained basis, partnering your business without the need for a long-term contract.  If you are being offered a 3 or 5-year arrangement, then you should question this and decide whether this is right for your business.  This isn’t right for our clients, and although we have worked with some clients for a number of years, there’s no formal agreement forcing them to work for us for this period of time.

If you are only looking for a one of piece of support, then obviously a retained model parternship isn’t right for you.  If it is a one-off project, check which HR providers are happy to work on this basis, what service level agreements they have and the price for this piece of work.  Some might wish to ve paid up front, on completion of work, or a combination of both, so it’s important you research this.

What will HR support and advice cost me?

Price is something that will influence your decision so it’s important you check this out.  HR providers should be displaying their prices on their website or marketing material, which allows you to benchmark and make an informed decision.  The factors that will influence price are:-

  • Size of your business (number of employees)
  • Type of support required and volume – ie processing starters, leavers etc and generating contracts of employment
  • Number of hours spent on-site per month
  • Number of calls/emails per month

The size of your business is a factor purely because a business with 100 employees tend to need more HR advice than a business with 10 employees, however there can be exceptions to this.  A business with 100 employees, with robust policies, procedures and effective management teams could be fairly self sufficient, whereas a smaller business with growing pains may not be.  So, no one size fits all approach should be taken and these are the sorts of things you should consider when forming your decision.

If HR providers are not displaying prices or giving some kind of indication, then I would question why this is the case.

Our advice is to shop around, do your research and find an HR Consultant/Advisor who can not only help with HR in your business, but act as a trusted business advisor, regardless of your sector.  At the end of the day it is what is best for you and your business so make sure you find the right HR Consultant.