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By: Ber Leary on June 15th, 2022

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Keep Your Business Growing with Interim HR Consulting

Your Human Resources team has one core function: to ensure that you've always got the right people in the right place at the right time. But what happens when you don't have the right people in HR? Or when a key member of your HR team becomes unavailable?

That's where interim HR Consulting comes in. When you work with an interim HR partner, you'll have access to a wealth of practical experience and industry knowledge. Your consultant can help bridge the gap on your current team—or get your team off the ground.

In this guide, we'll look at how to get the most out of interim hr consulting. We'll look at how to work best with an HR partner and how a good consultant can help keep your growth plans on track.

Table of contents

  1. What is interim HR consulting?
  2. How to choose the right interim HR consulting partner
  3. How can interim HR consulting help your business grow?
  4. Setting up for success with your interim HR consultant

What is interim HR consulting?

If you've never worked with an interim HR consulting partner before, you might not be clear on what your partner can deliver for you. Let's clear up some common misconceptions…

Interim HR consulting is NOT…

  • Just leave-of-absence cover: An interim HR professional can do much more than simply fill in for someone while they're on vacation or parental leave.
  • A set-it-and-forget-it HR solution: Interim HR is a partnership. Your consultant will work closely with you and the rest of your HR team to help deliver your human capital goals.
  • The end of your growth plans: You don't have to put your plans on hold while an interim HR consultant fills in. Your consultant has a wealth of skill and expertise that can help you stay on track with your long-term strategy.

Interim HR consulting is…

  • A partnership: Regardless of the duration or nature of the engagement, your interim HR consultant is there to help you succeed. They will work with you to support your goals and deliver your vision.
  • A fresh perspective: HR consultants bring a wealth of industry knowledge. They can offer a new way of looking at your approach to human capital and give a valuable second opinion on your strategy.
  • A flexible solution: Interim consultants can offer the kind of service that suits your needs, whether that's someone to lend a hand with operational HR tasks, or an expert who can help develop your human capital strategy.

Interim HR consulting is all about your needs

HR is the glue that holds your team together. Every day, they work hard to attract, engage, and retain the amazing people that will deliver your organizational goals.

You need human capital experts who understand both your team and your goals. An interim consultant can provide the HR skills you need, enabling you to execute a human capital strategy that supports your long-term goals.

Download my guide to HR outsourcing

How to choose the right interim HR consulting partner

When you reach out to an interim HR consulting firm, it's generally because you're in one of two situations:

  • Emergency: Unexpected circumstances—such as resignation or illness—mean that you urgently require an extra pair of hands on your HR team.
  • Non-emergency: You have identified a skills gap on your HR team, and you are seeking a short-term solution.

In both cases, it's important to look at all available options and find the one that's best suited to your needs.

Here are some of the virtues to look for in an interim HR consulting partner

Experience

First of all, it's essential to find a partner that understands your company's unique HR challenges. Your partner should have a track record of working with businesses like yours, and they should be able to talk about the issues that affect your team.

Some things to ask about include:

  • Local and state compliance: Regional compliance is one of the biggest headaches in HR. Check that your HR partner understands all regulations in your municipality and state. If you run a multi-site organization, ensure that your partner is familiar with all regional variations.
  • Public vs. Private: If your company handles any government contracts, it will lead to an entirely new set of compliance regulations. Make sure that your HR partner has experience with GovCon clients.
  • IT infrastructure: Ideally, try to find a consultant that understands your HRIS, applicant tracking system, and other key components of your IT infrastructure.

Service type

HR consultants can offer different levels of interim services, such as:

  • Foundational: Day-to-day HR tasks, including administration, record-keeping, and dealing with employee queries (HR admin)
  • Operational: Higher-level HR functions, which can include developing policies and procedures, overseeing professional development, performance management, and configuring IT systems (HR manager)
  • Strategic: HR director-level duties, including workforce planning, human capital strategy development, employer branding, and executive recruitment (HR director)

Talk to potential interim HR consulting partners about the best options to suit your needs.

Values

Your HR team can have a huge influence on your organizational culture, which is why it's important that an interim HR consultant shares your values. Talk to potential consultants about their approach to:

  • Communication: Your HR consultant will play a role in communicating policy, so look for someone who speaks your team's language.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: HR plays a pivotal role in DE&I strategy, which is why you need a consultant who understands and supports your DE&I approach.
  • Culture: Make sure that your consultant understands and supports the values that drive your organizational culture.

Your interim HR consultant is going to be a part of your team, even if it's only for a short while. It's important to find someone who fits that team and will champion your organization's vision and values.

Flexibility

Finally, the nature of interim engagements often means that your requirements will change over time. Before you sign a contract, be sure to talk to your consultant about possible circumstances that might arise in the future, such as:

  • Contract extension: Many interim engagements often run longer than the initial contract period. If that happens, will your consultant be able to extend their contract?
  • Service level: What happens if you hire a consultant as operational support, but you really need strategic assistance? Will your consultancy partner be able to provide someone with the skills you need?
  • Full outsourcing: If you want your interim arrangement to become permanent, you may need to look at an HR outsourcing solution. Can your partner provide this service?

Again, interim HR consulting is all about your needs. Think about how those needs might evolve in the future and look for a partner who can support them.

How can interim HR consulting help your business grow?

When you hire an interim HR consultant, you might be focused entirely on maintaining Business As Usual while you find a more permanent solution.

But an interim solution doesn't mean that your HR team has to stop growing. There are many things your HR consultant can do to help you keep moving forward.

Communicate your mission to the team

A primary role of HR is to communicate your values, goals and objectives to the wider team. HR professionals know how to spread this message, whether it's through one-to-one team interactions or broader team seminars.

Your interim HR consultant can support mission-related communications. They can also gather feedback during employee interactions and give you an idea of the team's current mood. This will help you refine your strategy and identify areas where you need to improve.

Build standard HR operating procedures

HR consultants usually have a rich and varied professional background. They're up to date on best practices and have a good knowledge of compliance requirements. If you need help developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), then an interim HR consultant can work with you to map those processes.

HR consultants can also help you identify any issues with your current SOPs. For instance, if your current SOPs are outdated and in need of modernization, your consultant may be able to suggest improvements.

Upskill and expand HR team

If you're working with an operational or strategic HR consultant, they can pass some of their knowledge on to your existing in-house team. This is a great way to boost a novice team and expand your available skills base.

When looking at any kind of internal training arrangement, it's important to have clear objectives for your human capital strategy. Think about your goals and the steps you will need to take to achieve those goals. What kind of HR skills will be required to meet those objectives?

Recruiting and onboarding at scale

When you plan a major expansion, you'll need to bring in lots of new staff, often in a short amount of time. But how will you source, screen and onboard all of these fresh faces? Your current HR team might not have the capacity or recruitment expertise to meet a surge in demand.

Interim HR consultants are perfect in this scenario. They can help you develop a streamlined recruitment process that gets people in seats as quickly as possible. Interim recruiters also usually have access to a wider talent pool, which means that they can find candidates for your new positions.

Offer expert HR insight

Interim HR consultants can often help you in ways you might not expect. They bring a fresh pair of eyes to each problem, plus a knowledge of the solutions that have yielded results for other organizations. An interim HR consultant can offer advice on:

  • Your recruitment process
  • Your Total Rewards strategy
  • Your training and development infrastructure
  • Your compliance checks
  • You employee communications

When you hire an interim HR consultant, you're tapping into all of that expertise. Use it wisely, and you will end up with a modern, streamlined HR department.

Download my guide to HR outsourcing

Setting up for success with your interim HR consultant

Interim HR consultants are good at being self-sufficient. They understand that they're often helping companies get through a crisis, and they use their initiative to deal with each problem as it arises.

If you want to make long-term gains from your interim HR consultant, you'll need to support them as much as possible. Here are a few steps you can take to get started:

1.      Introduce them to your values and strategy

Start the conversation with your interim HR consultant by talking about what drives your organization and where you hope to go. Spend some time talking your consultant through things like:

  • Your organizational culture
  • Your clients and market
  • The challenges and opportunities ahead of your company
  • Expectations for your team
  • Your approach to DE&I, succession planning, professional development, Total Rewards, and other core elements of your HR strategy

No matter what kind of HR support your consultant offers, they will benefit greatly from knowing more about how your company runs—and how you intend it to be run.

2.      Integrate with the current HR team

Next, you'll need to get your consultant working with your current HR team. There are a few things to consider here, including:

  • System access: Getting set up with HRIS systems can cost you time at the beginning of the HR consultancy engagement. Avoid this by making sure that your HR consultant has full access to all systems on Day One.
  • Introductions: Introduce them to the rest of the HR team and any other stakeholders with whom they might interact. Ensure that the consultant knows what each person is responsible for and to whom they should direct queries.
  • Processes: Familiarize your consultant with all relevant process documents and guidelines so they can get to grips with your workflow. Make sure there's clarity about the consultant's responsibilities, especially in relation to other team members.

Consultants don't require the same kind of onboarding as a full-time hire. However, they do need some time to get fully up and running. Anything you can do to help speed things up will benefit your entire HR team.

3.      Empower your interim HR consultant to take action

HR consultancy requires a great degree of trust. After all, you are trusting a substantial part of the employee experience to an outsider who doesn't yet understand your culture. But if you don't trust your HR consultant to act in accordance with their professional expertise, then you won't realize the benefit of having them on your team.

To ignite your consultant's initiative, you should:

  • Have clear role requirements: Make it clear what your consultant is expected to do in the course of their duties. For example, an operational HR consultant will manage individual employee benefits, but they will not be expected to make changes to your Total Rewards offering.
  • Remove unnecessary obstacles: Sometimes, you may want to put guardrails on your processes. For example, you might want the HR consultant to request sign-off before they make changes to an employee record. This is fine, but make sure that you're adding value to the process and not placing unnecessary obstacles in your consultant's path.
  • Be on hand for assistance when needed: On the other hand, your HR consultant might request sign-off or advice before they complete a task. It's important to have someone on the time who can offer support in these situations so that your consultant can act without delay.

HR consultants are highly resourceful and like to act on initiative, but they're still working within your internal systems. For the best results, make sure that your systems support them and that they can make a difference to your HR team.

4.      Listen to their feedback

HR consultants can offer a fresh, expert perspective on your internal HR processes. But will you listen to them? And how will you act on that feedback? Here are some steps to help you make the most of their expertise:

  • Arrange regular feedback sessions: Your interim HR consultant will develop a deeper understanding of our business over the duration of their contract. It's a good idea to have formal feedback sessions where they can meet with you to offer insight, feedback, and ideas for improvements.
  • Assign action items: If your HR consultant makes a suggestion, what happens next? Have a process where any ideas become actionable items with clear deliverables, and then assign those projects to the right person.
  • Monitor progress: Keep tracking improvement projects to ensure that they deliver the expected results. If your team runs into further issues, then bring everyone together to discuss optimal next steps.

The type of feedback available depends on the type of interim HR engagement. Strategic HR consultants will help you design and implement high-level initiatives linked to your long-term goals. But even foundational HR consultants dealing with admin tasks can give you some ideas about process improvements and workflow optimization.

Getting started with interim HR consulting

The first step is to reach out to an HR consulting partner that you can trust. Helios HR has supported businesses in the greater D.C. area for over 20 years now, helping companies navigate every step of their growth journey. 

Book a no-obligation consultation call today. Let's talk about how we can help you achieve your goals. 

Book a call with Helios HR