By Wes O’Donnell

Outsourcing HR has many advantages for small businesses. Saving time and money, access to high-level HR expertise and legal advice, increased efficiency, and compliance with complex employment laws are just some of the benefits.

These benefits have led to an explosion in the number of small businesses choosing to outsource HR, and in the number of HR products and services from which to choose. Choose the wrong solution for your business, however, and your HR dream could become an HR nightmare. So, if you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR, here are some tips on what to look out for when comparing HR providers:

A technology solution

There’s almost no excuse in today’s mobile, data-driven world not to have your HR provider offer a technology solution to manage your employee information, automate processes, produce documents, trigger alerts and reminders, interface with payroll, and so on. The most flexible solutions are cloud-based and intuitive, where you can log in anywhere, from any device. If there’s an employee access portal, even better. Look for an offering where IP is automatically updated in response to changes in the law. HR systems can range from generic to tailored. If possible, go for a solution tailored to your business or industry as it’ll ensure maximum compliance.

Compliance audit

Look for an offering that provides a thorough initial compliance audit, plus ongoing monitoring of your compliance. And don’t forget to check the qualifications and experience of the person who’ll be doing your audit.

Accessible documents

What’s the waiting time when you want documents, contracts, etc – are they instantly generated by you, or wait-until-provided by the HR company? Are they generic documents, or personalised and tailored to your business? An ideal solution would give you instantly-generated, tailored and personalised documents.

Experience & reputation

Look for a provider with plenty of experience and industry recognition to ensure you’ll be getting the highest quality of outsourced support. Find out how many years they’ve been in business, who do they work with. Look at the company’s Google reviews to see what their clients say. Local experience also trumps foreign experience, so check out where they’re from.

TIP: Google the company name followed by the word ‘complaints’ (e.g. ‘Companyname complaints’) to see if they’ve been the subject of court action or investigation by government or consumer watchdogs.

Legal backing

Does the HR provider have solid legal backing? Ask if they have specialist employment law solicitors in-house (for quick response and continuity of service) or do they outsource legal? What’s the reputation of the legal firm supporting the HR provider? No legal backing can lead to outdated, non-compliant IP, and major legal problems and costs in the event of a claim against you.

Insurance cover

Check if the provider offers an insurance product. How does the excess compare with your existing insurance policy? What is (or, more importantly, isn’t) covered? Some HR providers’ insurance won’t cover you for bullying and harassment claims, for example. Find out if the company is an agent for their insurer (therefore with a vested interest in your policy not being enacted) or independent of the insurance company.

Free trial

Make sure there’s a free trial, comprehensive demo or other way of trying the product or service before you buy. This’ll help you evaluate how accessible and knowledgeable the service is.

Qualified advisory service

Do you get unlimited, 24hr advice with your subscription? Check if the advice you get is tailored to your particular business and industry or only general advice. Also check the qualifications of the actual people you’ll be speaking to – will the person answering the phone or online enquiry be a qualified and experienced legal or workplace relations specialist? A good HR advisory service should feel like having your own expert HR Director and general legal counsel on the end of the phone!

Choosing the right HR provider can be a big decision for a business. Take your time, do your research. By asking the right questions, however, you’ll ensure you’re getting the solution that’s best for your business.

If you want to compare HR Assured’s offering to others, give us a call on the number listed on the site, or fill out the enquiry form and you’ll hear back from us shortly.

Wes O’Donnell is a Workplace Relations & Advisory Manager for HR Assured.