Outsourcing HR: Structuring the Relationship for Success

When your company determines that the best course of action is to outsource HR due to your size, financial reasons or a specific expertise is needed, ensure that you structure the relationship so that it is mutually beneficial.

Many factors go into creating a successful strategic partnership with your outsourced HR consultant, first of which is finding the right person. Some things to consider when looking for an HR consultant are:

  • Make sure the consultant is knowledgeable in HR and has some familiarity with your company/product/industry.
  • The consultant needs to have enough expertise to “diagnose” your company’s needs and help you determine how to prioritize the projects you need to work on.
  • Make sure the consultant you select fits in with your company’s culture. You may want to have the finalists meet with key members of your company to ensure they are a fit.
  • Interview as you would for any internal position, as this person will likely come into contact with your entire staff.
  • Check references as you would with any other new hire.

Once you have a person in place that you trust, it is important that you work together to develop a plan of action. Allow the consultant to guide you. You are hiring this person to be the HR expert so let them have the freedom to do their job well.

Support them throughout the company by “sponsoring” the work being done. This can be accomplished by asking the CEO to publicly share with staff and “sign off” on the person and the work they are doing. Another important way to support the work of your consultant is by giving them access to key information and players. For instance, give him or her access to all the necessary tools and information (Benefit Broker names, contacts for payroll, etc) so that they can hit the ground running instead of spending time to research this information.

Have written work agreements (similar to job descriptions) for each project that outline the priorities and specifically address the expectations you have for one another. Keep these documents up to date as priorities change.

Regular ongoing feedback (going both ways) is important to ensure that you are on the right track and that everybody feels that they are getting what they were promised and are treated fairly.

Results that come from a good strategic partnership:

  • Save time and resources
  • Create an infrastructure that will benefit the company for the long-term
  • Get the expertise you need without paying a full time employee. For example, this partnership can be especially useful during an acquisition or when the company experiences rapid growth
  • Be confident that your policies and procedures are both in line with your company’s culture and compliant with state and federal laws
  • Capitalize on the lessons the consultant learned in the past to ensure that your practices are sound and respectful to employees

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