By: Kim Moshlak on June 21st, 2023

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How to Know When to Hire a Fractional HR Consultant

Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices | Employee Relations

As an outsourced HR consultant, I regularly work with small businesses in need of support in Human Resources. Often these businesses are either in a start-up mode or have a small footprint and need part-time, efficient support to move their businesses forward.  That work can sometimes be tactical and sometimes strategic, and so hiring an outsourcing firm with a broad base of talented generalists can often be a great solution for a company that finds itself in this situation.

And in the words of the great Chinese philosopher Laozi, “Everything is temporary.”

As these organizations grow and change, they will need a different level of support. This can include bringing in an outsourcing partner or a fractional HR consultant. 

What is fractional HR?

Fractional HR is a type of HR outsourcing that offers some extra flexibility. We usually define the two terms like this: 

  • HR outsourcing: Your HR Outsourcing partner takes over certain HR functions, such as recruitment or payroll
  • Fractional HR: A fractional HR consultant works part-time on your team, helping to fill a skills gap or providing an extra pair of hands.

Fractional HR is a cost-effective type of human resources outsourcing, giving you access to a skilled HR expert on an as-needed basis. 

Which one is right for you? It depends on your HR team's current capacity and your organization's needs. 

Download my guide to HR outsourcing

Do you need full-time or fractional HR?

Deciding between a full-time and fractional HR resource is a matter of analyzing your current business needs. 

First, we recommend a full-time HR Generalist for every 100-150 employees. This is a standard ratio many suggest. Where the real art comes to play is in determining the variables.  Some of the areas to consider are:

  1. What is the complexity of your business? Is the business highly technical, or does it fall into an industry with strong regulatory and/or compliance requirements?
  2. Is your business fast-paced? Do answers and solutions need to come quickly, with short turn-around times?
  3. What work will fall under the position? Is the work strictly HR, or do other functions fall under it? Is there administrative support?
  4. What is the style of the leader? Does the leader require heavy support, or are they more independent?
  5. How much support do you feel the employees need? Are they dependent on HR to be available daily?

With each “yes” answer above, you may find your ratio is higher than the 1:100/150 recommended. We often see clients with 50 or more employees bring on a seasoned full-time consultant to manage the Human Resources function, and often those companies will combine the roles of that position with another (such as Office Manager or Payroll). 

If you're closer to the ideal ratio but you still need additional help, then you might benefit from bringing in a fractional HR consultant to help fill the gaps. 

Examples of fractional HR

One of the companies with whom I have worked, a small government contractor with 20 employees, knew they needed HR help and looked at options.  Hiring an outsourced firm allowed them to have a seasoned fractional HR professional available at the same rate as a part-time employee.

Another benefit of outsourcing is that typically, a client has the reach back of the entire consulting team, which brings layers of thought leadership to solutions and recommendations, and it ensures the client will have a consistent resource available even in the event of a personnel change.

We also see companies like those mentioned above using HR outsourcing for point-in-time projects, such as compensation or training, which often require specialized knowledge and experience as needed to reduce the cost of bringing on another HR professional.

As you add staff to the HR department, start with a seasoned generalist with broad experience across all HR functions. As you grow, consider adjusting your group to accommodate specialists across the various functions, keeping your ratio in mind.

How can fractional HR help? 

Fractional HR consultants can provide an extensive range of services, such as: 

  • Recruitment: Your consultant can help with common tasks, including writing job descriptions, onboarding, and candidate assessments. 
  • HR admin tasks: Consultants can work on HR support tasks such as dealing with queries from team members, updating employee handbooks, and assisting with employee relations.
  • Strategic HR: Experienced consultants will be subject matter experts that can assist with high-level tasks, including HR management, monitoring company culture, and dealing with employment law queries. 

These are just a few of the ways that fractional human resources consultants can help with their HR expertise. Speak to trusted HR service providers to talk about your current business needs. 

Get started with fractional HR services

Whether you need a fractional HR person to assist your team, or an HR outsourcing solution to help you grow, Helios HR has got you covered. 

Book a no-obligation consultation todayLet's talk about how we can secure your growth. 

Try HR Outsourcing from Helios HR