What’s the best way to access HR advice?
Business owners and managers face many challenges, and dealing with people is often one of the biggest. If they don’t have the resources to employ skilled HR expertise, what’s the solution?
There are two options, which can complement each other. Both involve bringing in specialist HR support on an as-needed basis.
De-bunking HR myths
Before we look at these in detail, bear in mind that sometimes a specialist HR support’s job is to bust the popular myths around HR. Here are two of the most common misconceptions.
- HR will put obstacles in the way for managers: this simply isn’t true. HR is about helping managers do what’s best for the business and their employees.
- It’s easy to fall foul of employment law: many managers don’t realise that employment law is based on reasonableness, not on proving something ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. (For example, if an employee was suspected of stealing petty cash, the business would need to do a reasonable investigation and have a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Then they could dismiss the person, if appropriate.)
So what are the most effective ways of accessing invaluable HR advice like this?
Monthly retainers for day-to-day advice
Typically a business with up to 100 employees will derive huge benefit from having a seasoned HR professional on the end of the phone or within email’s reach. The company may not have the in-house knowledge to deal with some of its trickier people-related issues.
If an employee is underperforming, or has a health condition which causes frequent absences, or displays any of the myriad behaviours that can affect a business, then managers need to know how to respond.
Difficult conversations – don’t leave them to HR, get help to manage them yourself
Contrary to another popular belief, it isn’t HR’s job to deal with people when times are tough. Managers need to be able to manage, and pragmatic, supportive HR advice will help them to do that well. Imagine the comfort of having an experienced, friendly mentor on call to walk you through a challenging situation? This is what an affordable monthly retainer can provide.
Many managers do an excellent job but there are always unforeseen circumstances that can affect confidence. HR advisers will upskill the manager (and/or the in-house HR person) and share any necessary legal information, building their confidence for the future.
Lots of SMEs don’t require an HR expert 100% of time. They need someone day-to-day to deal with new starters, payroll updates, pay increase letters and so on. These important tasks are often carried out by their existing, very capable staff.
But a business restructure leading to redundancies, for example, or a reappraisal of company values, requires a greater level of HR expertise. When these things occur, it’s much more cost-effective to bring in a senior HR professional on a project basis.
Typical HR projects
Actually, there’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ project, because organisations are so diverse. But examples could include:
- Reactive situations, such as a challenging disciplinary matter, or a merger which may require (among other things) expertise in TUPE transfers, redundancies or an outplacement service.
- Proactive situations, such as a company wanting to build or re-appraise its employer brand in order to attract, retain, engage and motivate employees. This could include employee surveys or working with focus groups if needed.
What do businesses gain by using external HR expertise?
Some businesses have no internal HR function at all, while others may have an in-house HR team and up to several thousand employees. Both can benefit from external HR advice. Although smaller businesses tend to use retained HR expertise, it’s not uncommon for slightly bigger organisations to use a mixture of both.
Either way, the benefits are the same. External HR specialists should provide:
- Clear, pragmatic advice that’s right for the business.
- Regular mentoring and support.
- Skills training and coaching for managers.
- Expert HR input on an as-needed basis, at an affordable price.
- Saved time, while the experts take on bigger tasks.
- An independent view (in a grievance or appeal case, for example).
- Technical skills which may not be available in-house.
- Additional resource for a period of time without having to invest in extra headcount.
Can we help you?
If you’re a business owner, MD or HR professional looking for an affordable HR partner you can trust, why not talk to our HR experts?
Please contact us – we’d love to hear from you.