Workin’ 9 to 5 (and understanding the benefits of HR consultants)

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I’m thrilled to once again have the amazing Cindy Hooker of Gold Dog Consulting, back as a guest blogger. You may recall that back in March she wrote about inspiring women to lead, and you’ve heard from me how much I value her wisdom as my coach. Well, Cindy has also been a leader in the human resources field for nearly 15 years, and regularly consults with businesses of all sizes to help them grow their businesses wisely.

As a recruiter who helps startups with hiring, I see a large number with administrative staff being asked to “do HR”, yet not truly have a sense of what HR is, the depth involved in managing it, even on a small scale, and how incredibly important it is to manage your human resources appropriately from the get-go.  As I like to remind folks, Human Resources is not an administrative function – it’s a strategic function. HR Consultants like Cindy can be invaluable to helping small businesses manage their most important assets – their people – as well as plan for the future.  Here’s what Cindy has to say…

When I talk to small business owners about Human Resources consulting, they ask, “What can you do for me?“ That’s a great question.  When a company is small, say under 20 employees, generally there isn’t a trained HR professional to ensure compliance, standardize compensation, and train and develop people.  Sometimes the owner ends up doing these things and feels apprehensive about it because they do not have the expertise. Other times, compliance is overlooked. That can be troublesome.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a small business owner say they want to hire an administrative employee who is young and fresh out of school (If you don’t know what’s wrong with that, contact me!). Allow me to explain how a Human Resources consultant can help a small business.

Flexibility vs. Stability

Growing small businesses need a good balance of flexibility for growth and stability for cultural norms (thriving employees).  A Human Resources consultant will assess the tension between these needs and provide a plan of action that can ease the growing pains and attract, hire, and retain superstar employees.

Some of the key human resources functions to consider when a small business is growing are the following.

  • Compliance Policies (harassment, safety, discrimination, EEO, etc.)
  • Onboarding (how employees are integrated into the company when hired)
  • Job Descriptions (outlines responsibilities for each job, including required education and/or training)
  • Employee Handbook (informs employees about procedures and policies)
  • Compensation & Benefits (creating fair and equitable benefit and pay structures)
  • Company Culture (values clarification, employee rewards & recognition, strategic planning, change management, etc.)

What Human Resources Do I Need For My Business?

Of course, many small business owners don’t know what they don’t know. A Human Resources consultant can audit any employee processes, policies, and procedures and recommend a strategy now and for the future. This is called a Human Resources audit. They can audit the entire organization or a discrete area, depending on the budget. The Society of Human Resources (SHRM) recognizes the value of audits for the following areas:

  • Compliance: How well the company is complying with current federal, state and local laws and regulations.
  • Best Practices: Helps maintain or improve a competitive advantage by comparing its practices with those of companies identified as having exceptional HR practices.
  • Strategy: The strengths and weaknesses of systems and processes to determine whether they align with the company’s strategic plan.
  • Function-Specific: Focuses on a specific area in the HR function (e.g., payroll, performance, records retention, etc.).

What do I look for in a Human Resources consultant?

There are a number of ways to identify a great HR consultant.

  • First, ask your prospective consultant if they have their PHR or SPHR, a certification endorsed by the Society of Human Resources. Candidates must possess all education, exam and experience requirements to be certified, and must continue their work and education in order to maintain it.
  • Next, understand the consultant’s experience. Do they have the breadth of experience to assess and recommend Human Resources processes and procedures? This would typically be someone who has worked at the senior level, strategically and tactically. It is nice if they are familiar with your industry; however, a worthy HR consultant will do the research in order to become familiar. Also, it is wise to ask consultants if they continue their education to update their body of knowledge on HR issues.
  • Finally, your HR consultant should stand by his/her work. If you are unsatisfied with their work product, there should be an agreement in place to ensure problems are either fixed or payment is refunded.

Whether your business has 30 employees or one, a Human Resources Consultant can help. If you have employees and have never talked with a Human Resources Consultant before, please feel free to reach out to me at Gold Dog Consulting for a free consultation to discuss the needs of your growing business!

Cindy Hooker
Gold Dog Consulting

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