It’s all well deciding that you need to outsource your HR, but which consultancy should you plump for?
With such a wide range of companies offering largely similar products, it can be difficult to know exactly which one to choose.
Below we list the key features of each provider but first, let’s look at what you should be looking for from your supplier.
>See also: A guide to outsourcing HR
How do I choose the right HR consultancy company?
Start with their experience (and which sectors their clients are in). You’ll know you’re on to a winner if they’ve had numerous previous clients in your industry, with extra points if they’re larger and better-known. Similarly, having proof of qualifications reassures you of their competence and what they can offer you. Think about how their services align with your business growth strategies and growth forecast over the next year.
Next up, hunt for any hidden fees. Do they charge extra or impose financial penalties for leaving the contract early? The firm may seem cheaper upfront but, like the worst budget airlines, they can really give you a swift kick with those sneaky charges.
>See also: How to decide on HR policy for your small business
While you’re there, check the clarity of the payment and contract terms. Flexible payment should be available (paying as a one-off or on a retainer). It’s all the better if they can offer you a free trial – working on a smaller project, for instance.
Even though they’re not known as the money maker, you need to have a return on investment from your HR. It won’t necessarily be in monetary terms either – think increased productivity, lower turnover and decreased absence. Ask what ambitions your HR supplier has and how long a timespan they need to establish these.
>See also: Outsourcing HR v inhouse HR management
It’s even more important that they understand your company culture. If they don’t, they run the risk of making the wrong decisions on your behalf. Or worse, they hire the wrong staff, causing you all manner of long-term problems. Again, a free trial option is beneficial here.
Lastly, remember to take professional references from your chosen supplier – two or three is ideal. Once you’ve agreed to work together, be clear about what’s included in your deal and that it can be changed at a later stage to suit the needs of your business.
Below is a glimpse of what some of the UK’s leading HR suppliers offer.
|citrusHR||Peninsula||Workplace HR||HR Solutions||Avensure||Moorepay||Adviser Plus|
|HR software option||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Industry guidance, news and developments||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Indemnity insurance/legal expenses insurance||✓||✓||✓||✓|
In terms of outsourcing, citrus HR specialises in employment contracts and staff handbooks along with legal advice.
The HR support is coupled with a software platform that has a contract generator built in. It has holiday and absence management, health and safety alerts, appraisal management, secure employee info storage, onboarding and creating and sending offer letters. Digital staff handbooks are accessible to all clients to help them get a handle on the software.
Businesses who don’t want to be tied down needn’t worry as there’s no minimum contract, no hidden charges and no set up fees.
Charities are at an advantage as there’s a 10 per cent discount available for all charitable organisations.
Pricing: The pricing works on a flat rate of £7.50 per month with an added £50 per employee per month (plus VAT).
If you need a consultant to visit you on-site, or services which need additional fees: you’ll be charged £85 per hour (plus VAT) if you’re outside London and £95 per hour (plus VAT) if you’re inside London.
If you want something cheaper which lets you keep your staff in-house, there’s also a software-only version available for £2.50 per employee per month with a 14-day free trial.
>See also: 6 HR software tools you can use for small business
Peninsula have extensive expertise in writing documents. Think contracts, company handbooks and other documentation like return to work forms, exit interview forms and parental leave records.
Like citrusHR, this one is paired with an HR software package. It has employee management software, e-learning webinar training and tribunal representation, annual review and risk assessment training.
On the HR support side you’ll be assigned a lead consultant who is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The consultant’s insight can provide analysis to help you pinpoint sick leave triggers and other ‘hidden costs’ to your business and productivity.
Peninsula HR and Peninsula health & safety are the two packages available, but you can combine them for a more comprehensive package: the aptly named Peninsula HR and health & safety.
Signing up to Peninsula requires more commitment as the products are based on one to five-year terms. They’re priced on a per employee per month basis.
Packages come with the option of legal expenses insurance to protect your business against claims of unfair dismissal and indirect discrimination. This optional insurance will give you total employment tribunal cover too.
Pricing: Use the calculator on Peninsula’s website to find out how much you’d be paying for mid-rate terms over five years. Rates will depend on your industry or business circumstances.
>See also: Top 10 HR tips
Workplace HR has a specific Outsourced HR offering, with the promise of an immediate response to any HR problems or issues. They can provide:
- Pre-employment checks for new starters and exit interviews for leavers
- Handle staff info for third parties like pension providers
- A dedicated team with a variety of different skills
- Absence management (including return to work interviews)
- Staff training (such as GDPR)
Most clients use Workplace HR on a pay as you go basis so it’s better for short term contracts and budgets. They do offer a monthly retainer if you’d prefer.
Pricing: You won’t find pricing on the website, though they say that it’s competitive and flexible. Ring up for a quote based on your needs.
HR Solutions has been delivering expert outsourced HR consultancy for more than 20 years. In the last few years, it has grown to 40-plus team members across HR, health and safety and payroll. It offers tiered packages for its HR retainer services based on its clients’ requirements and their employee numbers. Its Enhanced Retainer provides SMEs with a dedicated consultant who will get to know your business.
All of HR Solutions’ clients are onboarded successfully with its 30-, 60- and 90-day plan to ensure that their policies and are up to date, and to help them to plan their people strategy with ease and efficiency.
It partners with Breathe to offer a leading HR management platform so that clients can easily manage their staff holidays, policies and absences.
In addition to health and safety and payroll, HR Solutions also offers fixed-fee recruitment, management training, free webinars and employment law updates. It also offers a HR Knowledge Base service – an easily, searchable online resource with free HR templates, including regularly updated and new guidance documents and templates as well as, webinars, training material and access to the HR, GDPR and compliance audits.
In 2022, HR Solutions achieved the Gold Service Award from Feefo.
HR Solutions’ team of consultants, advisors and administrators are supported by its team of HR knowledge managers, which means it says, “there is never a question or case that we can’t resolve”
The consultancy points out that it has never lost an employment tribunal case in 20 years’ of HR service.
Pricing: The retained HR services package starts from £138 per month depending on the company size. However, you can find a more specific price by contacting HR Solutions directly.
The firm also runs a one-month free trial of the HR Knowledge Base package. It contains employment law related template documents, access to HR and GDPR risk and compliance audits, webinar content and training material.
Avensure can provide contractual implementation, advice, guidance and training.
You’ll be allocated a one-on-one team leader advisor to help you run your business. Rest assured, there’s legal support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Plus, you’re covered by tribunal insurance protection, which in turn is covered by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The firm specialises in HR and employment law and health and safety – or you can combine the two for the Total Business Protect package.
The cost on HR Protect is determined by your company size, payroll and requirements. It includes everything mentioned above for a fixed monthly fee. In addition, Avensure can supply a fully up-to-date company handbook and staff contracts tailored to each role and in your business’ style.
HS Protect is much the same as HR Protect, plus health and safety documentation. Avensure can also do a full site survey and create an action plan for you, following up by phone or email. They’ll keep you up to date with industry guidance, news and developments by email, along with e-learning training videos (you’ve got an initial pack, but you can purchase more videos according to your business needs).
Pricing: Contact Avensure for a quote depending on the needs of your business and which packages you’re interested in.
Moorepay is geared towards companies in the media and entertainment industries. Their HR team are professionals in the world of media, with a 10,000-strong customer base.
You’ve got your pick of HR services and HR software along with payroll and payments services. To keep you in the know about HR, Moorepay will provide you with monthly and quarterly legislation guides, focused blogs and a knowledge base in your HR Hub. Its legal team are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) too.
For those concerned about data and security, your information is stored on a secure server in IBM data centres.
Key services include:
- Round-the-clock advice
- HR consultancy
- Initial audit
- Regular legislation updates
- Annual review (documentation, policies and procedures)
- Letters and documentation
- Contracts and handbooks (contracts of employment, employee handbooks, HR forms, checklists and template letters)
- Indemnity insurance (up to £100,000 per employment tribunal)
- Tribunal representation
Additional services include:
- Consultancy visits
- Background checking
- HR admin
- Indemnity insurance
- Cash flow insurance
- Legal rep and prep
Note that many of these extras are provided as standard in other packages so factor this in when making your decision.
Pricing: Contact Moorepay to get a quote.
Adviser Plus are employee relations (ER) experts. They offer up solutions for longer-term ER case management, and consultancy support during busy spells – think major reorganisation changes like HR transformation, downsizing and acquisition. Their solutions include ER case management technology “empower” which enables managers to self-serve and handle people matters with confidence, an ER advice line for additional support when needed, and people data analytics giving you visibility of all aspects of people management across your organisation.
To help give your managers the skills and confidence they need to handle people issues more effectively, they also offer manager training for things like negotiation, conflict resolution, mental health training and managing performance.
Pricing: Contact Adviser Plus for a quote depending on which services you require.
Small business HR – everything you need to know