Hopefully you are convinced that proactive HR is the way to go for your business, and have some ideas about areas it can help you with. But a proactive approach to HR is best achieved with a good proactive HR provider, and also by making the most of them when you’ve chosen one.
Obviously here at face2faceHR we pride ourselves on a proactive approach, but obviously there are many providers out there. If you want a proactive one, here are some things to look out for.
- Is the provider really interested in your business? When you first meet them, do they ask questions about the business, about your product or service, about your history, staff profile, culture and ethos?
- Do they work with a wide range of businesses? While sector-specific experience can be useful, actually someone who doesn’t just work in one sector can provide useful and intriguing ideas from elsewhere and advise on applying them to your organisation.
- Do they ask lots of questions? Both at the initial meeting and thereafter, when giving advice, when drafting documents, when talking to you about an employee situation. The more your consultant understands about the business and the circumstances, the more proactive and effective their support is.
- Does their advice seem tailored or generic? Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you don’t know, but when you’re talking to an HR consultant, either at the initial consultation or further down the line, you should get a sense of whether they are giving advice tailored to your specific business and circumstances, or giving generic advice about what the law says. If they are keyed into specifics about your business, they will be more likely to be effectively proactive.
- Do they give you options? In any employment situation there will usually be a number of options available. Some providers outline all of them, then make recommendations about the best way forward for you in your circumstances, whereas some decide in advance which option they want you to take and tell you that’s the only one.
- Do they want to understand your priorities? When they are advising on available options and on which option will be best for you, understanding your priorities, generally and in the specific situation in question will be crucial.
- Do they identify problems you hadn’t even thought of? Or potential ones that might come up? Do they demonstrate a forward-thinking, anticipative approach?
- Do they advise you on how to improve aspects of your people management in advance, even when no problems have arisen, or just react with advice on how to improve an issue or concern you raise?
Once you’ve chosen a good proactive HR provider it’s important you make the most of them. Don’t just ring them when you have a crisis, if they have a proactive approach use them proactively!
- Make the most of visits – if you are on some kind of retained contract, these often come with an entitlement to a number of visits, either scheduled in or on demand. Make the most of these, don’t wait until there’s a crisis. Talking about how things are going in your business, talking though staffing plans and employee issues can help identify improvements, prevent problems and provide a useful sounding board.
- Tell them about your business – not just about staff problems, tell them about developments in the business, new marketing initiatives, product changes, client changes, technological developments. These may all have staffing implications and even if they don’t, will add to your HR consultant’s deeper understanding of your business, which in turn vastly improves the quality of advice they give.
- Be honest about your objectives and priorities. Your HR consultant is not the employment law police. They are not there to admonish you if you do something “wrong”, nor do they live in unrealistic cloud cuckoo land. A good proactive consultant used to working with small businesses will understand the grittier stuff, be realistic about the capacities and resources available to you, and shouldn’t be there to tell you you “can’t” do something. If your objective in a certain situation is, for example, for an employee to leave the company, tell your HR consultant that. If they understand where you are coming from and where you want to end up, they can advise you in a realistic, proactive manner.
- Ask for their input. Not just about HR directly. If you have a good HR consultant who is experienced and has worked with lots of businesses, and/or runs their own business, they can provide very useful input into your own business strategy. They may have useful contacts to help you or be able to provide clarity on how other clients have approached a situation, or give examples of strategies they’ve seen in action elsewhere.
If you choose a good, proactive HR provider to work with your business, and then make the most of all the support, advice, experience and knowledge they have to offer, it can have a significant impact on the success of your business, and make managing staff easier and more fulfilling.
If you have any further queries and need some advice,