What is HR consulting?
When I tell people that I’m an HR consultant, their first response is: “Oh, so you’re a recruiter!” Since when are recruitment and HR the same thing?!?
This may be an HK specific phenomenon since recruitment agencies are so ubiquitous here. It is particularly challenging to buck this trend here in Asia Pacific, where the view of HR is still very much that of “personnel” or “administration.” HR consulting is more widely understood in Europe and America. Therefore, I often find myself educating potential clients and friends about the HR consulting industry. I love this definition of HR consulting from HRzone: specialist advice and services provided by a third-party to help businesses maximize the efficiency of their HR operations and implement appropriate new policies and procedures in the best way possible.
HR consulting is not just recruitment. HR consulting is not just payroll. HR consulting is not just training. HR consulting may include all of these things. But it is not only these things.
Two months ago, I posted an article from the Houston Chronicle about HR consultants. It perfectly summed up all of the advantages of hiring an HR consultant, including recruiting, litigation, expertise, outsourcing and strategy. I won’t repeat the article word for word here, but I do want to focus on the advantages of hiring an HR consultant, particularly if you are a small or medium sized business.
Independence: As I’ve written about in the past, internal HR teams are often conflicted—they have to balance acting as an employee advocate and protecting the company. Hiring an independent HR consultant can alleviate this conflict and instill confidence into the process for the employee and the company.
Experience: Most HR consultants come to the table with a wealth of knowledge and experience under their belt. Their integrity is paramount. They have come across all types of situations regarding employees and employers, can size up the risks and adequately weight the pros and cons. As I often say, one of the things I love about my job is that employees will never run out of ways to create new and complex problems. Your HR consultant can help you navigate them.
Unbiased: An external HR consultant comes into a situation without any biases. They don’t need to balance the demands of multiple internal stakeholders. They can focus only on achieving a mutually agreeable outcome for the employee and the company. This is critically important, particularly in extremely sensitive situations.
Market knowledge: Your HR consultant will be up-to-date on the latest market knowledge and industry trends. He or she will keep you informed of any legislative changes that may impact you (such as the recent updates to paternity leave in HK) and the cutting edge thought leadership that drives the future of work. They will typically be better networked than your internal HR team (if you have one) and more aware of trends impacting your industry.
So what can your HR consultant do for you? He or she can perform the fundamental fabric of HR that many companies typically overlook, avoid or don’t confront until an issue arises. We are the people you call when:
· You don’t know how to structure your performance management process
· You want to open an office in a new location but don’t know the talent landscape
· When an employee unexpectedly files a grievance against your star performer
· When you need to need to undergo an organizational redesign to align to changing business priorities
· When your employees become disengaged because of the uncertain impact of the future of work
· You need to upskill your current HR team or source new HR talent
This is just a sample of the various things that an HR consultant can do. How do we work? Most of us work on a project basis, similar to a management consultant you might hire to assess a business or IT project. This helps your bottom line. You have none of the obligations that come along with hiring a full-time HR employee and your commitment ceases when the engagement ends.
Why hire us? Many companies don’t put money into their people initiatives until it is too late. Companies generally understand that they may need to spend money to hire talent (through recruitment agencies) or to train their talent (through external training vendors), but they don’t take a step back to look at the big picture items until it is too late. If you think your company can benefit from an independent voice, vast experience, an unbiased viewpoint, and timely market knowledge, you should consider engaging an HR consultant.
Think an HR consultant can help your company? Give RC HR Consulting a call today to understand how we can partner with you.
Renee Conklin is an HR Leader who writes about talent attraction, employee engagement and the future of work. She is the founder of RC HR Consulting.
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