So, what does a HR consultant do?

Recognise that you need HR support? Or unsure of what a HR consultant can do and how they can support your business? Get a rundown from experts here.

Entrepreneurs, Directors, C-Suite
Sep 2023

Table of contents

For a business, people matter. Specifically, your people matter. 

For most organisations, employees represent the most significant cost and contributor to the current and future success of your organisation. 

So, it really is in the best interest of every organisation to get your house in order from the fundamentals through to the strategic direction and how your employees fit into that picture.

People are complex and managing them should keep you thinking. But you may also wonder what does a hr consultant do and how could they help me with my business? Whether you have a specific issue that you need support with, or you want to mature your current HR function and processes or you’re not even sure what you need exactly. By the end of this article you should know a little more about what a HR Consultant can do for your organisation. 

Where to start?

Engaging a consultant can be a big decision– any internet search will uncover dozens of variations on this theme. HR Consulting is big business and refining the search can be overwhelming. 

Ideally you know somebody that can refer you to a service or agency, as they may have used or have heard good things about. Word of mouth is invaluable in this industry– it is not a decision you want to base on your Spidey-senses! However, this is not always an available option so ….

If you are starting from scratch, let's start with some things to look for to assess your options and find the best alignment for you and your business. Your basic website may be your first point of contact searching for an HR Consultant. 

The website is the first presentation of the organisation and can give you an idea of the style of consulting services you may be provided, a vibe if you will. HR Consultants are an adaptable bunch, it comes with the territory, and will work with your company and your branding and in your tone, but you need to be comfortable and confident with the services you are looking to be working with and first impressions still count, right?

Make sure you read the copy and content on the site to get a feel for what these specific HR consultants can do. Does their offering, specialisms, case studies, articles and experts align with your business? Do they have experience working with your industry? 

There is something reassuring working with a company that is familiar with your industry. It is even better if there is a variety of organisations, industries and scale of operations to show that the experts have agility and can provide expertise drawing from many areas and disciplines. 

Take a look through any case studies that may be on the site – these can give you insight into some of the work and achievements of the specialists – subject to what you are looking for, of course! 

What is an HR Consultant? 

Let’s take a step back and look at what can an HR Consultant actually do? 

An HR Consultant is your friendly neighbourhood professional you might look to for expert HR advice or services. This could be at any stage of the employee lifecycle or stage of business maturity to help you navigate specific HR challenges, operational or strategic projects or to provide HR partnering for short or longer term engagements. 

As a bonus, working with a HR consultancy will give businesses the benefit of both the individual working with you as well as the expertise of the entire team! For instance, at HumanX we always deploy a team to any engagement we are working on and leverage the wide experience available to us. From Learning and Development to generalist HR capabilities, there is probably not much that we haven’t seen or done before in the HR space. 

Let’s explore some examples of what our HR consultants do. 

People can be complicated and tricky HR issues arise from time to time that you may need additional assistance to resolve – a seasoned HR practitioner to help you navigate through the issues. Perhaps mediating a dispute, working through a conflict between employees or investigating a grievance. Bringing in an HR Consultant will ensure that you have the right professional with the expertise and an objective perspective to help identify and address the issues while managing legal risk and liability for the organisation. You don’t want a contractor or someone with limited experience in charge of managing the most important resource in your organisation – your people. 

Speaking of managing legal risks and liability, a specialist consultant can help review and ensure your HR policies, practices and procedures are relevant and legally compliant with applicable legislation and awards. 

No one wants to end up in the news or face reputational and financial damage! 

In an early business stage, this could be helping set up the HR governance frameworks – the HR fundamentals that align with your business, your mission and values to help you on your way. If your business is a little more established, you might consider an HR audit – which will involve a deep dive across your entire HR function, to assess HR maturity and evaluate potential issues, benchmark against best practice and make recommendations to manage risk, streamline or improve operations for the organisation and employees or even just a refresh. Having an expert third party run their eye over your HR operations could prove invaluable for your success. 

Perhaps your organisation is ready for the next phase of growth and you need additional support through that process. This could be supporting you through workforce planning and recruitment to build the organisation and attract the right candidates in a competitive market. Retaining and engaging your employees is another key priority, so you want to get assistance to look at your talent management processes. In this scenario, a HR Consultant could establish a performance appraisal process with training and development as well as individual coaching to build team and leadership capabilities. 

If you have high employee turnover, HR Consultants can help diagnose the root cause and provide strategic solutions to manage the issue. Going through some organisational change and restructuring? An HR Consultant with the right background can help you to manage organisational change initiatives aligned with the business values and goals.

Even when you engage an Outsourced HR firm for longer term engagements there are variable models to consider. For some, this may remain an ad-hoc ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ relationship. Essentially, you would have an HR Consultant on call, but only when required. This works for a number of smaller businesses that don’t need a dedicated resource but do need HR advice and services from time to time. 

Other businesses like to have an HR Consultant on a more regular basis – onsite, remote or a hybrid model – where the consultants can become part of the team, a bit of an adjunct to an organisation, working closely with leadership and employees for ongoing HR management and projects.

It is generally the life of an HR Consultant to juggle multiple clients – it is all about variety, right? This ensures that your consultant won’t stagnate, they are keeping their finger on the pulse of what is going on in the world of HR, observe and experience other organisations and deploy this experience for the benefit of your organisation. This continuous learning enables adapting and adopting fresh ideas ensuring the best strategies and practices for your business. Factor in this, multiplied by the potential expertise gained from a full team of consultants and you get a sense of the potential for your business.

So, what do you need?

There is a lot to digest here and this is not an all or nothing proposition. Ideally, your business is being proactive in their actions by exploring what a HR consultant does and how they can support your organisation.

However, you may already be in a position where you have HR challenges that you’d like to address - sooner rather than later. 

Every engagement for an HR Consultant is designed to address your specific pain points, opportunities for improvement and to partner with your team to help you manage and achieve your objectives and goals. We do this by embedding ourselves in your business and intimately understand your strategic objectives, your leadership capability, your people, systems and processes. 

Whether you are certain what you are looking for or still working it out, it is recommended to reach out and have a discussion. Have a conversation with your prospect partner to talk through your thoughts and ideas. 

During this discovery process, a seasoned HR Consultant can listen and help you to work through what you may be needing. Your experience during the discovery process is another great gauge to assess the right fit for you and your business – another vibe checkpoint!  

Once you have reached out, you want a reasonably quick response. How comfortable did you feel talking to your prospective consultant? During the process it is expected that you will have questions and pain points that you wish to discuss with them, but did the specialist have questions for you? You want the HR expert to hear you, but you should also expect questions as well to help you both get a clear understanding of your requirements, propose ideas and recommend options in line with your asks. 

Short term engagements, like the HR Health Check or specific projects can be a great ‘taster’ to see how the HR Consultancy firm operates and allow you to assess your comfort and confidence in the skills, capabilities and business alignment. 

Engaging an HR Consultant provides that benefit from a professional drawing from experience across broad industries so you really do get that best of breed insight, bespoke to your business. As the client, you maintain the option to engage in the way that best suits you and your organisation. You retain that flexibility of continuing, or not, to engage with a partner that will be tailored to your needs and the requirements of your business.

Where to go from here?

Whatever your HR needs, there is an HR Consultant that can help you and your business from the fundamental frameworks, change management and strategic alignment of people and processes for your businesses. 

At HumanX, it is our business to listen to our clients and co-design customised solutions with and for your organisation. Our HR Consultants deep dive to understand your business needs, goals and aspirations to craft a unique path bespoke to you and your business to achieve your objectives. Our experienced HR Specialists help your business to navigate the twists and turns blending strategic and tactical HR solutions to deliver results, empower your leaders and align your teams.

Ready to have a conversation?
Reach out to HumanX and we can chat about your HR journey and what our HR Consultants can do to help you!

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