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What is HR Consulting?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Human Resources, or HR, consulting is a branch of management consulting that focuses on the process of effectively utilizing personnel to obtain the goals of the organization. At its best, HR consulting helps to develop a human resources model that addresses the specific needs of the business in a manner that serves the best interests of both the company and the employee work force. A professional and effective HR consultant will be able to advise companies in a wide range of issues that can help the business to become a more productive and unified company.

A wide range of skills are of use as part of the process of HR consulting. The HR consultant may have a background in such disciplines as accounting and finance, legal matters as they relate to personnel issues, health and benefit packages, and management education. A human resources consultant may also hold credentials in the specific area of human resources.

HR consulting is of benefit to businesses of every size and description. Start-up companies may require guidance in establishing policies and procedures that comply with applicable laws as they relate to hiring and firing personnel. Small companies may find that calling in a HR consultant to assist in taking a nascent program to a new level, such as developing an employee handbook, will create many benefits in terms of productivity. HR consulting may be of help to larger corporations in establishing grievance mediation processes or evaluating the current size of the human resources team and making suggestions on how to reorganize the department to best advantage.

Clients may choose to hire a HR consulting firm or consultant for a specific task or as a way of enhancing the overall human resources function. The consultant or firm may contract to address the specific issue and remain involved until the issue is fully resolved. In other situations, the firm or consultant may contract with the client to revamp the entire HR effort, devoting anywhere from three months to a year to the project.

In all cases, the ultimate goal of HR consulting is to leave the client with a solid and fully efficient human resources department. The department will have specific guidelines and procedures that can adapt to any type of personnel issue and all employees assigned to the department will have a clear understanding of their duties and responsibilities. When HR consulting is fully successful at attaining these goals, the consultant becomes redundant and is no longer needed in order for the company to competently deal with human resource issues.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By indemnifyme — On Jul 16, 2012

It seems to me like anyone doing small business HR consulting would need to also know about the field they're consulting for. How are you supposed to help develop and employee handbook for an insurance company, for example, if you don't know a thing about insurance and the different jobs there are in the field? I don't think you could do it!

I wonder if there are HR consulting firms out there that specialize in specific industries? If so, I think I would hire a firm like that rather than just a general HR consulting company.

By Pharoah — On Jul 15, 2012

@SZapper - I agree that hiring an HR consulting company can be a really good idea for some businesses. I would caution people to make sure they know exactly who they're hiring though.

As far as I know, you don't have to have specific certification to work in the human resources field. So pretty much anyone could set themselves up as an HR consultant! If you're going to hire someone in this field, I would research the company and see if you can talk to any of their past clients to get an idea of what kind of a job the consulting company does.

And of course make sure the consultant you hire has a degree and experience in human resources!

By SZapper — On Jul 14, 2012

You know, I knew that most companies had human resources departments, but I never put any thought into how those departments were developed. I mean, every business has to start somewhere, right?

Hiring HR consulting services sounds like a really good idea if you're starting a new business, especially a small one. Most small business owners aren't experts in every aspect of business, so it makes sense to hire someone to help in certain areas.

And the beauty of hiring HR consultants, like the article said, is you don't have to keep them around forever!

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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