HR Mavericks

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Fractional HR
You don't need another full-time HR person, but you also definitely need some help. Fractional HR may be the solution for you. Read on to learn more.

What Is Fractional HR?

Fractional HR refers to experienced HR specialists who have typically held corporate roles and understand what it takes to build an engaged and productive workforce. Their role is fractional, which means they work with organizations when required, be that half a day a week to a handful of days a month. They are great support for overworked and overwhelmed HR administrators and managers.

Is Fractional HR Right for Your Company?

If you are reading this as an internal HR person who feels that you aren’t heard, you are only able to get to the operational jobs each day and have an ever-growing list of work that simply isn’t getting done, then hiring a fractional HR is for you. The 2020 pandemic changed how a lot of us live. According to a poll by Gallup, 66% of women and 56% of men stated that one of the most important factors when considering whether to take another job or not is the work-life balance. As more people left to set up their own companies and leading organizations across the country procured and recognized consultants as core team members, the SME market expanded from around 2018 onwards. SMEs were hired cross-state, cross-country, and across different continents. All this means that great talent is out there. Don’t be afraid to bring in additional support to help in specialist areas or during peak periods.

Benefits of Fractional HR

Let’s look at a few scenarios and benefits of fractional HR.

Overwhelm in Existing Team

As discussed earlier in this article, if you are in a position where only the basics and firefighting are getting done, how do you know if there’s not a bigger problem you are simply unaware of? You are not alone. According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, most employees are “living for the weekend” or “watching the clock tick,” as only 21% are engaged at work and employee stress levels are at an all-time high. Hiring a fractional HR can help you to clear the work that is currently causing overwhelm. It will also highlight what’s needed and can be put in place.

Specialists

Specialist is a broad term that can be used for many areas within the world of HR. There is no longer a single person who can be an HR specialist; it’s an oxymoron. Fractional HRs can provide expertise in many specialty areas; three of the most commonly sought are hiring, firing, and mediating conflict.
  • Finding the right new hire is expensive. Fractional HRs can support your recruitment and retainment efforts, either helping you build effective processes or handling specific searches.
  • Firing people is a complicated process, and with employment law constantly changing, you need the right advice in place.
  • Growing businesses often mean more people and more opportunities for workplace conflict. Fractional HR can come in and help you to resolve a situation.

Peak Periods

Fractional HR can help during peak periods of a business's life. For example, a car manufacturer approached an HR consultancy to help them clear a backlog of employee relations issues. They were so busy making changes to the business itself that they didn't have the time to give this the attention it deserved. Seasonal businesses are another classic example of where a fractional HR can benefit an existing team to cover the workload, providing a knowledgeable and experienced pair of hands.

Move From Reactive to Proactive

The worker/employer relationship is reactive and constantly changing. It's reactive in the sense that employees react to changes in the marketplace, such as the drive towards remote work or the Great Resignation. If you don't have the time to stay on top of trends and changes, it’s hard to keep talent or build an engaged and sustainable workforce. A fractional HR brings strategic experience to help you respond to a shifting labor market to hire and keep the best talent available. Having a fractional HR who understands the reality of constant change and can support you is a great advantage for any organization.

Disadvantages of Fractional HR

There are upsides and downsides to everything, and fractional HR is no different.

Lack of Availability

A great fractional HR is in demand and thus has limited time for any one business. That’s great for the HR consultant, but can be problematic for the business who may need them for more the contract allows.

Staffing Issues

HR consultants sell their knowledge and time and have staffing issues just like we all do. Consultants may be moved from one client that they have been supporting for some time to another. The initial transition can be frustrating as you get to know another consultant who is getting to know your business.

Cost

A fractional HR has experience and is able to learn about your business and identify and solve issues quickly. This comes at a cost, so be prepared to pay for quality. Most fractional HRs have held senior corporate roles and bring all of that experience to you.

Lack of Knowledge

HR covers many areas of people management. A fractional HR might not have the skillset in all the areas you need.

Trust

Just because you want to bring in an outside resource to help you doesn’t mean to say that your internal team will agree. Trust may need to be built between the person you hire and your team.

What Type of Business Is Fractional HR For?

The real question is, at what stage does a company need fractional HR? Any business that has three employees or more needs to start building a relationship with a fractional HR. It might well be that during the early stages and with only a few employees, an HR department can focus only on the basics of operation and compliance, such as employee handbooks, contracts, and policies and procedures. But…

Fractional HR Services

Fractional HR can provide much more than compliance issues and basic HR functions. Here are some other areas that fractional HRs can help with.

Training and Development

Fractional HRs help identify, build and deliver training and development programs for your teams, such as line-manager training for first-time managers.

Workforce Planning

According to employee communications platform Haillo, US employers spend $2.9m looking for replacement workers per day. Having a good fractional HR can help your organization to find the right people, who will stay and be engaged in your business. Thus, helping you to reduce unnecessary recruitment costs.

Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Sending out an employee survey once a year isn’t enough. There are innovative ways of creating that engagement, and fractional HRs can work alongside you to put a plan in place to reduce recruitment costs and increase productivity through engagement.

Tips for Hiring Fractional HR Help

Here are a few things to look for that can make all the difference when considering a fractional HR.

Tip 1: Likability

Find someone that you like who will work with you as opposed to being overbearing or oppositional; someone who shows the level of empathy you need and you instinctively feel will have your back.

Tip 2: Experience with Your Company Size

Many fractional HR consultants come from big corporations. They are used to big budgets and big teams. Find a company or someone who understands where you are in your business life cycle. This will help them share their expertise in areas you hadn’t thought about. For example, if your company is looking to grow and you don’t want to pay for a recruiter and a fractional HR, find one who has experience of both and can talk to you about the work they have done with a company at a similar stage to you.

Tip 3: Has the Skills You Need

Can the fractional HR you are considering tailor their service to your needs? What does that look like? For example, if you know your new employees might not have the right skills currently and you are prepared to invest in them, how can your fractional HR help in delivering training? In this scenario, they should outline a training program that will help these employees to develop the right skills. Let’s say a marketing manager joining your business may have all the attributes you are looking for, but they don’t have the skills to manage a team that this role will require in around two years' time. You’d want your fractional HR to be able to help provide soft skills and line manager training.

Tip 4: Existing Clients

Ask to talk to a couple of their existing clients to get a real feel for how they work. Can they tell you more about how they work with the fractional HR person and what’s working well? Can they share a time with you where something went wrong and how the potential fractional HR dealt with that? You are looking to get a better understanding of how they can work with your team, their style, and how they cope under pressure.
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Sam Eaton

Sam Eaton

Sam has built a number of significant consultancies over the last 20 years, having fallen in love with the world of HR. She is now a leading business coach in the sector having worked with companies across the globe. She's a keynote speaker and avid chef in her spare time.
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Other Related Terms
Agile HR
Employee Experience
Global HR
HR Budget
HR Career Advice
HR Education
HR Effectiveness
HR Ethics
Human Capital Management (HCM)
Human Resource Management (HRM)
Human Resources (Intro to HR)
Outsourcing HR
People Operations
Strategic HR
Talent Management
Workforce Management
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