HR management services guide – How to choose outsourced HR support for your small business

For small businesses, the task of managing human resources can be particularly challenging. Limited resources mean that often, these businesses don’t have a dedicated HR department, or if they do, it’s small. This is where outsourced HR support can play a critical role, offering expertise and helping small businesses manage their workforce effectively without the need for in-house HR staff. However, choosing the right provider is essential. This guide outlines key considerations to help small business owners in the UK select the best outsourced HR support services for their needs.


Video: Answering your common questions about payroll prices and costs

What are HR services?

HR services encompass a broad range of functions and tasks related to the management and support of an organisation’s workforce. These services are designed to improve employee performance, ensure compliance with employment laws, and contribute to the overall strategic aims of the business. Key areas covered under HR services include, but are not limited to:

  • Recruitment and Selection: Identifying staffing needs, advertising vacancies, interviewing candidates, and making hiring decisions to find the right talent for the business.
  • Employee Relations: Managing the relationship between the employer and employees, including handling grievances, disputes, and facilitating a positive working environment.
  • Training and Development: Identifying skill gaps and designing training programs to enhance employee skills and knowledge for their personal development and the benefit of the business.
  • Payroll and Benefits Administration: Managing employee compensation, including wages, bonuses, and benefits such as pensions, ensuring accuracy and compliance with legal requirements.
  • Performance Management: Establishing performance standards, conducting evaluations, and implementing performance improvement plans to ensure employees meet their objectives and contribute to the business’s success.
  • Compliance with Employment Law: Ensuring that the business adheres to all legal requirements related to employment, including contracts, working hours, health and safety, and equality.
  • HR Policy Development: Creating and updating HR policies and procedures that govern employment practices within the business.

Outsourced HR services provide these essential functions through external providers, offering businesses access to expertise and resources that they may not possess in-house. This can be particularly beneficial for small businesses that may not have the capacity to manage these complex and time-consuming tasks effectively. Outsourcing HR functions allows these businesses to focus on their core activities while ensuring that their HR needs are met professionally and efficiently.

Understanding your HR needs

Before embarking on the search for an outsourced HR provider, it’s crucial to understand your business’s specific HR needs. Are you looking for support with recruitment, employee relations, compliance with UK employment law, payroll, or all these areas? Identifying your requirements will help you find a provider that offers the right services.

Compare quotes for payroll solutions
  • Takes 2 minutes
  • Receive quotes to compare
  • Easy and no commitment
Get Started

Features to consider when choosing an outsourced HR solution

Experience and expertise in your industry

HR practices can vary significantly between industries, so it’s important to look for a provider with experience and expertise in your specific sector. They should understand the unique challenges your business faces and offer tailored advice and solutions. Ask potential providers about their experience with similar businesses and request case studies or references.

Compliance with UK employment laws

One of the key benefits of outsourcing HR is ensuring that your business remains compliant with UK employment laws, which can be complex and subject to frequent changes. The right HR provider will have up-to-date knowledge of these laws and can help you navigate them, minimising the risk of legal issues.

Technology and systems

The use of technology in HR has grown exponentially, with many providers offering online platforms for managing various HR tasks. When choosing a provider, consider the technology they use and how it will integrate with your current systems. A good platform should be user-friendly and improve efficiency in managing HR tasks.

Flexibility and scalability

Your HR needs may change as your business grows, so it’s important to choose a provider that offers flexibility and can scale their services accordingly. Look for providers who offer different packages or customisable services that can be adjusted based on your evolving needs.

Get tailored payroll prices to compare
  • Give your requirements
  • Receive quotes to compare
  • Choose a provider or walk away - your choice!
Get My Quotes

Communication and support

Effective communication is essential for a successful partnership with your HR provider. They should be approachable, responsive, and able to explain complex HR issues in simple terms. Consider their availability and the level of support they offer, including whether they provide a dedicated account manager.

Cost considerations and indicative pricing

When considering outsourced HR support for your small business, understanding the cost structure and getting an idea of indicative pricing is crucial. Providers typically offer several pricing models, each catering to different business needs and budgets. Here’s a breakdown of common fee models and indicative prices to help you budget and choose the right service for your business:

Subscription or retainer model

Under this model, businesses pay a fixed monthly or annual fee for a package of HR services. This model is beneficial for businesses seeking ongoing support and can range from £150 to £1,000 per month, depending on the breadth of services included and the size of your business.

Pay-As-You-Go or Ad-Hoc services

Ideal for businesses that only need occasional HR support, this model allows you to pay for services as and when you need them. Costs can vary widely based on the complexity of the task, with hourly rates typically ranging from £50 to £150.

Project-based pricing

For specific, one-off projects such as developing an employee handbook or conducting a training session, providers may offer project-based pricing. Prices can range from £500 to several thousand pounds, depending on the project’s scope and complexity.

Customised packages

Some providers offer customisable packages that can be tailored to your business’s specific needs, combining elements of the subscription model with the flexibility to add additional services as required. Pricing for these packages is usually negotiated directly with the provider based on the services selected.

It’s important to note that these prices are indicative and can vary significantly between providers. When comparing costs, ensure you understand what is included in each package and consider any additional fees, such as setup fees or charges for exceeding agreed service levels. Balancing cost with the quality and range of services is key to finding the best outsourced HR support for your small business.

Questions to ask your potential HR services provider

Selecting an outsourced HR services provider is a significant decision for any small business. It’s essential to ensure that the provider you choose can meet your specific needs and will be a reliable partner in managing your human resources functions. Here are some critical questions to ask potential HR services providers to help you make an informed choice:

1. What experience do you have in my industry?

Understanding the provider’s experience in your specific industry can give you insight into their ability to handle the unique challenges and regulatory requirements your business may face.

2. Can you provide case studies or references from other small businesses you’ve worked with?

Asking for case studies or references can help you gauge the provider’s effectiveness and the satisfaction of their current and past clients.

3. How do you stay up-to-date with changes in employment law?

This question is crucial to ensure the provider is proactive in keeping your business compliant with the latest employment laws and regulations.

4. What is your approach to handling employee relations issues?

Understanding their approach to managing disputes, grievances, and other employee relations matters can help you assess whether their methods align with your business’s values and culture.

5. How scalable are your services?

As your business grows, your HR needs will change. It’s important to know if the provider can scale their services to meet your evolving requirements.

6. What technology and systems do you use, and how will they integrate with our current processes?

Inquiring about their technology can help you understand how their systems will streamline your HR functions and whether they are compatible with your existing processes.

7. How do you structure your fees, and what is included in your pricing?

Getting a clear understanding of their fee structure and what is included will help you assess the cost-effectiveness and value of their services.

8. What is your process for handling urgent HR issues?

Knowing how they deal with urgent matters will give you peace of mind that they can promptly support you when critical issues arise.

9. Who will be our point of contact, and how accessible are they?

It’s important to know who you will be communicating with and how easy it is to get in touch with them for any queries or support you may need.

10. Can you provide a detailed proposal outlining the services you recommend for our business?

Asking for a proposal will give you a comprehensive view of their understanding of your needs and how they plan to meet them.

By asking these questions, you can better understand a potential HR services provider’s capabilities, approach, and how well they align with your business’s needs and objectives. This will enable you to make a more informed decision and choose a provider that will be a true partner in managing your human resources.

FAQ – Outsourced HR services for small businesses

What are outsourced HR services?

Outsourced HR services involve hiring an external provider to manage various human resources functions, such as payroll, recruitment, employee relations, and compliance with employment laws, on behalf of your business.

Why should a small business consider outsourcing HR functions?

Small businesses often lack the resources to maintain a full in-house HR department. Outsourcing HR functions can provide access to expertise, ensure compliance with employment laws, and allow business owners to focus on core business activities.

How can outsourced HR services improve my business?

Outsourced HR services can improve your business by enhancing recruitment processes, ensuring legal compliance, managing payroll efficiently, resolving employee disputes, and providing strategic HR planning to support your business’s growth.

What types of HR services can be outsourced?

Commonly outsourced HR services include payroll processing, employee recruitment and selection, training and development, employee benefits management, compliance with employment laws, and performance management.

How do I choose the right HR service provider?

Select a provider with experience in your industry, a track record of compliance with employment laws, scalable services, positive references from similar businesses, and a clear understanding of your business needs.

How much do outsourced HR services cost?

Costs vary based on the services provided and the business size. They can range from a monthly fee for subscription-based services to pay-as-you-go for ad-hoc tasks or project-based fees for specific initiatives.

Can I customise the HR services to fit my business needs?

Many providers offer customisable packages that allow you to select the services that best meet your business’s specific needs, providing flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

How will outsourcing HR impact my existing employees?

Outsourcing HR can positively impact your existing employees by providing professional support for HR queries, improving HR processes, and ensuring fair and consistent HR practices across the board.

What happens if my business grows?

A good HR service provider will offer scalable solutions that can grow with your business, adjusting the level of support as your HR needs evolve.

How do outsourced HR providers keep up with changes in employment law?

Reputable HR service providers stay updated on changes in employment law through continuous professional development, legal subscriptions, and industry networks to ensure compliance and protect your business from legal risks.

Will I lose control over my business by outsourcing HR?

No, a professional HR service provider will work in partnership with you, ensuring that you retain control over business decisions while benefiting from their expertise and support.

How is employee confidentiality handled?

HR service providers are bound by strict confidentiality agreements and data protection laws, ensuring that all employee information is handled securely and confidentially.

Can outsourcing HR help with employee performance?

Yes, HR service providers can implement performance management systems, offer training and development opportunities, and provide strategies to enhance employee engagement and performance.

How do I know if my business is ready to outsource HR?

If you’re spending significant time on HR tasks, facing compliance challenges, or experiencing rapid growth, it might be time to consider outsourcing your HR functions.

Can I outsource part of my HR functions or do I need to outsource everything?

You can choose to outsource only specific HR functions that are particularly time-consuming or require expertise, such as payroll processing or recruitment, depending on your business’s needs.

Compare Prices ⓘ