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HR consultancy: what is it, and what is it for?

What do you do if you find your HR team has reached their limit and just can’t handle a situation? You ask for help. And you could do worse than contact an HR consultancy. These skilled external consultants can give your department the skills boost it needs to get the results you want. 



What is an HR consultancy?


HR advisors and consultants shine a spotlight on the practices and activities that take place in the department. Their goal is to detect issues or areas for improvement and subsequently implement appropriate strategies. 


Consultants usually act as external providers and are hired intermittently for specific reasons. For example, if you are making structural changes to the company culture or organisation. 



What is an HR consultant for?


Although HR consultants are versatile by nature, their overriding goal is to help the department manage and deliver projects and create new policies. Ultimately, their role is to improve efficiency, productivity, and communication.


In general, they operate in four areas:


  • Planning: designing and implementing general HR plans or specific project or area proposals, including goals and a strategy map.
  • Processes: creating protocols and related materials to implement new programs.
  • Policies: rules or general guidelines for the department or organisation to standardise processes. 
  • Practices: define departmental best practices regarding specific tasks.  



The HR consultancy’s goals


Companies can count the HR consultancy as a staunch ally in overcoming challenges, optimising processes and taking a quantum leap in people management. 


Their main goals are to: 


  • Analyse and identify HR strengths and weaknesses
  • Participate in and advise on the implementation of new processes.  
  • Improve and optimise existing processes
  • Create new internal and external policies
  • Advise the organisation during periods of growth, change, and new phases. 


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HR consultancies core services


HR consultants offer a variety of services, but the aim is always to fulfil an organisation’s needs. They mainly focus on:



Recruitment and selection


Most consultancies offer advisory services relating to candidate recruitment and selection processes. They take responsibility for reviewing existing standard practices and proposing improvements. Some even carry out these tasks directly in place of the HR team.





Expert training consultants take charge of creating and implementing educational strategies for organisations. To achieve the desired results, they need to analyse the team’s training needs alongside the organisation’s requirements. The eventual program should align the objectives of both parties.


Training can take place via courses, workshops, and even mentoring programs within the company. The consultant should identify which formula is most appropriate to fulfil everyone’s needs. 


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Internal communication


Consultants offering internal communication services will aim for full spectrum improvement across this area. This will involve an analysis of the channels used, when they are used, who receives the information and who doesn’t, etc.


Communication is a cornerstone of organisations, just like process transparency. Consultants can advise companies on how to cultivate an environment in which information flows in all directions. They can also suggest the most appropriate ways to encourage communication. 



Employer branding


The image a company conveys to the outside world is critical when it comes to attracting talent. This is what is known as employer branding. The consultancy’s job will often be targeted towards improving this brand image. 


As a general rule, an organisation’s employees have a key role in employer branding. If they are content at the company, they will become genuine ambassadors and convey a positive image. 


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Performance reviews


Just like with recruitment and selection processes, we can ask consultants to help us optimise internal assessments, or delegate employee reviews to them. 


An expert point of view will allow the HR team to improve their processes and evaluate employees much more reliably and usefully. 



How do I tell if my company needs HR consultancy? 


Depending on the size of the company, there are certain occasions when the support of a consultant can prove immensely helpful.


  • Staff selection and evaluation: a specialist external recruitment consultant can be indispensable when you need to hire new staff or reduce your workforce. In both cases, the key is to know how to identify talent. 
  • Changes to business strategy: if there has been a significant change in the direction of the company’s business strategy, they may need to use consultancy services to build a new team capable of achieving the new goals. 
  • Lack of organisational processes or policies: in small companies, or businesses that have seen rapid growth, there is not usually enough time in the day to implement adequate internal processes and policies. Consultancies can help give shape to the organisation and establish a sense of order that works for everyone. 
  • Changes to the work environment: consultants often prove their worth when guiding a business through the steps required to improve the company culture, the work environment or install new technology, for example. 



How do I choose a good HR consultancy?


In the world of business, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the right HR consultant. The best course of action is usually to research your options thoroughly, keep in mind your current team’s skillset and understand in which elements an external provider would prove most useful. 


Additionally, when you come to choose a consultancy service you should: 


  • Do your background research: experience is one of the most important factors. The most creditable consultants are those with substantial experience in the sector. It is important to find out about the company’s record and skills, previous clients, etc. 
  • Ask for references: ask your colleagues in the sector if they know any of the company’s you are considering. If you can’t find any references, ask the company to provide some. If their clients are happy with the service they received, they will have no problem talking to you.
  • Prioritise specialists: this is a sector with many different areas of specialisation. When you are looking for a consultant to handle a specific challenge, try to find one that is an expert in the area. Large consultancies usually have specialist professionals in their teams. 
  • Request an action plan: ask the consultants to present an action plan for the projects in question so you can check they have understood your requirements and observe their methods. 



How much does a HR consultancy cost?


The cost of HR consultancy services depends on many factors, although it will mainly be dictated by the services contracted. 


If, for example, we hire a consultant to carry out a selection process, they will normally charge between 10 and 15 per cent of the candidate’s gross annual salary. 


However, if we are using an external consultant to help us digitalise our organisation over the period of a full year, we would usually pay a fixed amount every month. 


The pricing model and rates can vary greatly from one provider to another, so it is advisable to request personalised quotes

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