Your HR team is stretched thin and needs help. You’re looking for a specific skillset or specialized knowledge that you don’t have in-house. You’re too new, too small, or not ready to bring on an HR team but you need HR consultant expertise to grow. You’re implementing new technology that requires a project manager and training.
There are many reasons why you might need to engage an outside consultant, short-term or ongoing, to help manage your human resources. From recruiting and staff development to compliance and training, an HR consultant can be the solution.
When does it make sense to hire one? What should you expect? How can you maximize the value of an HR consultant for your organization?
Here are some answers.
When to Engage an HR Consultant
If you’re not sure where to begin, engaging a consultant to assess your HR team and operations can quickly identify the most pressing needs. Maybe you’ve had high turnover or you’re new in a leadership capacity and are not sure what the needs are. Is your existing team the right team or do they need further development? Are they good candidates for upskilling? Is it time to make a change in the team itself? An expert, outside assessment can answer those critical questions and many others.
It can also make sense to bring in a consultant when you going through a staff reorganization. An outside expert can look at your structure and make recommendations on staffing needs going forward. Perhaps you don’t have the budget or need for a full-time person. Outsourcing the entire function to an outside contractor may be a good option.
The final reason to bring in a consultant is when you need a specific skillset for a short-term or ongoing need. You might have someone who manages the administrative HR tasks, for example, but want to consult an expert for advice on compliance and labor laws. Or you may want someone to update current policies and procedures to bring them in line with current best practices.
Bringing Objectivity and Perspective
An HR consultant can be objective in assessing the team or identifying needs, whether it be in personnel, technology, or benefits. They don’t have a stake in the company. They can be objective and say, “We don’t think this will be of added value” or “These are ways you can be much more efficient or improve upon what you’re already doing.” They don’t have relationships with employees that might color their judgment.
Outside experts can also bring experience to the table from similar organizations, which can give you some knowledge of what competitors are doing. Depending on the consultant, he or she may know best practices from other industries that can give your organization an edge in recruiting, retention, and operations.
Finding and Working with an HR Consultant
Whether the first step is an online search or a discussion with colleagues, it’s important to
choose at least two consulting firms that you can research and interview before making a decision.
It’s also important to set very clear expectations with the consultant or firm regarding your needs and budget. Ask these critical questions:
- How long has your firm been in business?
- What is the experience of your consultants?
- What experience do they have in our industry?
- What specific functional areas do they consult in?
- What are the fees and what do they include?
- What other projects or firms has the consultant worked on or with?
- Does this consultant have experience doing what the organization would like them to do?
What to Expect from an HR Consultant
It’s reasonable for an organization to expect that the consultant:
- Can be an extension of their organization and their HR department, if they have one
- Is skilled in what they do
- Has a higher-level skill set and expertise in HR
- Will be candid and honest about their assessments or the tasks that they’re doing, especially if they see room for improvement
- Understands operations, as well as HR
- Can recommend technology to solve problems or automate/streamline processes
The key is to be open and honest about the expectations for the consultant and commit to hearing what the consultant recommends and why. Organizations should also understand that the better they are at educating the consultant about their business, culture, and operations, the better the results.
The Lindenberger Group can help organizations identify their most pressing needs, areas that can be improved, and changes that can generate big wins. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.
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