For small businesses with no in-house HR support, working with an HR consultant can be a valuable experience. Whether it’s help with recruitment, employee relations, or just ensuring you’re compliant, a good small business HR consultant can provide expert guidance and support. For businesses that haven’t worked with an HR consultant before it can seem daunting. Here are some tips to help get the most from a relationship with a small business HR consultant.

  • Define the business goals

Before working with a small business HR consultant it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the company’s aims and goals. What does the company want to achieve? Is there a specific issue that the business needs help with, or is it long-term strategy and support? HR consultants can help define the people part of the business strategy with everything from employee turnover to just making sure the correct policies and procedures are in place. Whatever the goals, be sure to communicate them with the HR consultant so that all parties are clear on what needs to be done and there’s no ambiguity.

  • Scope out the consultant’s experience

Not all small business HR consultants are equal! Price can vary depending on the level of support, size of the business and working model. Although HR disciplines apply across the board, it can be useful to look for consultants with experience in your industry sector. Their website and/or brochure should demonstrate their experience. Find them on LinkedIn and look at their background, this can be a useful starting point. For example, within Bespoke HR we have multiple consultants from different sectors and always encourage new clients to take a look at their past experience on LinkedIn.

  • Ask for referrals

Ask customers and partners for recommendations, which is by far the best way to find suitable HR consultants. More than half of our clients come to us via referral which means there is a relationship of mutual trust from the outset. If you already outsource some elements of your business, such as payroll or accountancy, then these partners are likely to have trusted suppliers they can recommend.

  • Check testimonials

Most reputable HR consultants will feature client testimonials on their website or Google reviews. Check these out and look at the businesses quoted. Are they similar in size to yours? Many HR consultants will also publish case studies which can also be a great way of understanding some of the projects they have been involved with.

  • Establish clear communication

Communication is key when working with a consultant. Make sure you establish clear lines of communication from the outset, and agree on how often you’ll meet or communicate. Be sure to share any relevant information or data that will help your consultant understand your business and the challenges you’re facing.

  • Trust their expertise

Remember, you hired an HR consultant for their expertise. While you may be an expert in your business, your consultant has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to HR. Be open to their suggestions and recommendations, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek clarification if you don’t understand something.

  • Implement their recommendations

Once your consultant has provided recommendations, it’s up to you to implement them. Make sure you understand what needs to be done and who is responsible for doing it. Hold yourself and your team accountable for making the necessary changes, and be prepared to adjust course if things aren’t working out as planned.

  • Evaluate the results

Once you’ve implemented your consultant’s recommendations, take the time to evaluate the results. Have you achieved your goals? Are there any areas where you can improve? Be sure to share your feedback with your consultant, as this will help them better understand your business and tailor their services to meet your needs.

Working with a small business HR consultant can be a smart move for any small business owner. By defining your goals, finding the right consultant, establishing clear communication, trusting their expertise, implementing their recommendations, and evaluating the results, you can build a strong relationship with your consultant and achieve your HR-related goals.

You might also like ‘Outsourcing – what you need to know’   or our free eBook ‘How to outsource your HR’. We also have a provider comparison tool to help you when speaking to HR consultants.