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Over the past couple of weeks I have been out and about with a colleague of mine visiting potential clients both here in Furness and as far afield as the North-East of England and South Wales.
When arranging the meetings, we were invariably told “….we do our HR internally…” and so didn’t expect any great immediate success. Oh, we of little faith! It looks as though our globetrotting expedition has delivered a success rate in the 90 percents. We didn’t have to dig deep to understand why. In a nutshell, it all boils down to people’s perception of HR.
The majority of potential clients that we have visited over the past two years have said pretty much the same thing. In reality though, they are generally talking about keeping personnel records, such as personal details, sickness records and holiday dates. Most do have some form of Contract of Employment, although these are often inadequate or out of date in respect of changes in employment law.
However, when asked how they deal with issues that arise such as a grievance or a breach of conduct, many companies advised that they call on the services of their local or company solicitor to advise them. The same is said when a number of businesses have faced a re-structuring which has resulted in redundancies. In real terms, they outsource a great deal of their HR without actually realising it.
Taking HR a stage further, very few companies have even considered introducing such things as a performance appraisal system or a process for monitoring their sickness absence, both important tools in terms of the development and management of a company’s workforce and both with potential positive financial implications to the company if implemented and managed in the right way.
Without wanting to indulge in a sales pitch, having understood what HR is and how it fits into and can benefit a business, it is important to understand how to consider using outsourced advice and support.
There are companies that offer half-day or full-day training purporting that you will be an expert in HR at the end of the course and will not only have a thorough working knowledge of current employment policy and legislation but will be able to implement it in your organisation. Be cautious with these – you cannot learn HR in 3 hours!
Likewise you could use this recently gained knowledge in tandem with calling on your solicitor as and when slightly more difficult or out-of-the-ordinary issues arise. Beware, though, that most solicitors charge by the hour and this can result in a series of hefty bills.
There are other companies that offer their services on a more cost-effective retainer basis, providing an on-going support service that is based on the premise that prevention is better than cure. Understanding a client’s business strategy and objectives enables a much more personal and client-focused approach.
As a colleague of mine said the other day, “you wouldn’t have just anyone doing your company accounts; businesses should treat their people issues in the same way”