Startups and growth-stage companies need experienced HR (Human Resources) talent to build the foundation for future success. HR consulting can help bridge the gap between where your organization is and where it needs to be.
What is HR Consulting?
Your HR department doesn’t just hire your team: they deliver the strategic direction that attracts the right new employees, build an inclusive and welcoming work environment, support you and your team on a daily basis, and provide the structure, best practices, and training to make sure everyone can contribute to your goals, and move forward on their career paths.
Startups and growth-stage companies often don’t hire an HR team right away, instead devoting resources to creating their product, or building out their platform or service, and finding their audience. But an organization is as strong as the foundation it’s built upon and expert HR advice can help set the stage for future success by building the processes and strategic goals that will drive the company forward long-term.
That’s where HR consulting comes in: clients can hire HR consultants on a short-term basis, to work on specific projects or outcomes; or on a long-term basis, providing a wider range of strategic advice and support.
Who Needs HR Consulting?
Companies of all sizes and stages can benefit from an HR consultant at some point. Early-stage startups can use HR consulting to bridge the gap between when they need ad hoc HR support, and when they’re ready to scale up an HR team. Established companies can often benefit from a fresh perspective or additional expertise in specific areas, particularly when they are in a transitional or growth stage.Signs that You Could Benefit from HR Consulting
- You want to roll out something quickly and don't have the time or expertise
- You know you need to do something, but don't have the in-house knowledge or experience to get started
- You have too many open positions
- You’re undergoing organizational change
- You’re planning a strategy reset and are wondering how to communicate it to staff
- You received financing and are making growth plans
- Your employee engagement seems to be slipping
- Your office, operations, or leadership team is overwhelmed with HR-related questions/work
- You’re seeing an Increase in turnover
- You want to do something right from the start
Benefits of HR Consulting
One of the primary benefits of partnering with an HR consulting firm is accessing the skills of knowledgeable HR leaders and applying their track record of proven success to helping your company set and reach its goals. Not all HR consultants provide the same services; there are specialties within HR and it’s important to find a partner with the specific expertise you need.
HR consultants can help a company devise a practical strategy to reach organizational goals. Strategic HR decisions may include:
- Organizational Goals
- Staffing Plan and Prioritization
- Benchmarking and Metrics
- Employee Development
Having expert support to build these strategies from a People perspective can help a company circumvent common pitfalls, and build the foundation for long-term success.
The way that your company does things – the processes that are in place – can have an enormous impact on results. Every process that you put in place is a reflection of the culture, values, and priorities of the company. For example a recruiting process that is built to favor candidates from a specific corporate or educational background may find the candidate pool is skewed away from underrepresented candidates. This hinders diversity, and sends a message to prospective and current employees, and to customers, that an inclusive environment is not a priority.
HR consultants are People experts, and as such, are skilled at communication. An HR consultant can have a positive impact on company communications, improving transparency and clarity, and strengthening the employer-employee relationship. Engage a consultant to communicate organizational goals and strategies, help employees understand the full value of their compensation and benefits packages, and make company messaging accessible, informative, and enjoyable. An experienced consultant can also act as a coach to your management team, helping to roll out current priorities and building your team’s communications skills for the long term.
Every company must comply with federal and state regulations – from wage and hour guidelines, to benefits, discrimination, and workplace safety. An HR consultant can help create a smart, inclusive handbook, identify important policies to think about, help you think through tricky situations (like terminations and COVID), and advise on communicating compliance updates in a way your staff will understand and embrace.
Focus on Core Competencies
Finally, bringing in strategic HR consultants augments your team so that you can smartly and fully focus on building your business, marketing your product, and securing financing that will help to lead to long-term success.
Qualities of Top HR Consulting Firms
Once you’ve identified a need for HR consulting, how can you choose the right firm for your organization? Consider some of the factors that set top HR consulting firms apart:
Take the time to understand the experience of the firm as a whole, and the individual consultants that your company will work most closely with. Make sure that the consulting firm has deep experience with companies of your size, in your industry – and that they have measurable results that they can share. This may include referrals, testimonials, or case studies, or simply sharing success stories as a part of the evaluation process.
HR consulting can span a lot of different functions, making it critical to understand what your company needs, and ensure that the consulting firm is good at that particular thing. Are you primarily scaling your team, training your managers, managing organizational change, or some combination of these? Set current and future priorities, and look for a partner that excels in those areas.
There is a misconception among business leaders that HR leadership is a soft skill, that draws on feelings and instinct rather than facts and data. However, data analytics can be applied to improve human resources outcomes as well, including:
- Diversity & Pay Equity
Finally, a strategic HR consultant must act as a true partner to your company. They help set your goals and strategies to reach them, but they also must align their actions to support those goals and strategies. For the term of the engagement, your HR consultant should act as a part of your team, extending your HR expertise and helping build the processes for future success.
For this relationship to work, both parties have to trust one another. Find a consultant whose values match your own, whose integrity is proven, and who you would choose to be a part of your permanent team.