Should you outsource your HR and to who

Should you outsource your HR and to who

As a HR Outsourced (HRO) provider in the UK, we bring you our guide which covers the elements of outsourcing and whether it would be a benefit to you and your business.

HR outsourcing (commonly known as HRO) is where the process of sub-contracting human resources (HR) functions to an external supplier (outsourced provider) takes place, all sounds simple, right? But getting your HR outsourcing right is crucial.



How do you decide to outsource your HR?

When embarking on the decision to outsource more than likely a review of business processes will have led you to decide that it makes sound business sense to ‘sub-contract’ some or all of the non-core HR activities to outsourced specialist providers.

As business owners when making decisions, HR is a non-profit function/area and therefore is an ideal choice for outsourcing.



Just what can be outsourced?

There are many ways which outsourcing your HR can be achieved with success, let’s take a look at what exactly can be outsourced:

  • Business process HR outsourcing (commonly known as BPO), in this instance it happens where the outsourced provider manages discrete HR activities, such as recruitment, or payroll administration. In many instances the business will outsource the whole HR function.
  • Shared service HR outsourcing happens where only the administrative or transaction elements of HR’s activities are subcontracted out. This also may involve direct involvement with Employees.
  • Application (and facilities) service HR outsourcing happens when outsourced providers look after the technological (and physical) infrastructure to support HR activities.



Are there risks involved in HR outsourcing?

Outsourcing your HR which may mean some or all of the processes are dealt with by the outsourced provider can be a huge business decision, it will be hugely cost-effective, there is no disputing that, but ahead of making any decisions, consideration should be factored in as it undoubtedly introduces new elements of risk, these if not considered especially when making the correct choice of provider for your own business may include:


  • failure to deliver cost benefits
  • inflexibility in ways of working
  • internal loss of control
  • negative impact on internal relationships
  • failure to meet legal or regulatory requirements
  • internal industrial relations issues



What are the benefits to HR outsourcing?

We have already identified elements that can be outsourced which in a nutshell, can be anything from HR Advice and Guidance, Administration, HR Software, through to outsourcing the whole HR function. HR Outsourcing can deliver tangible benefits you; this can be achieved by freeing up yours and others time, this can then be spent developing your business performance, and drive your growth.

There are many advantages of HR Outsourcing, once you have carefully chosen your provider you should see:


  • overall reduction in costs
  • increased efficiency
  • improved access to HR professionals (not available internally or at a level required)
  • increased flexibility and speed of response
  • improvement in the reduction of risk element
  • access to free HR resources to operate more strategically



Who should I choose and why?

Above, we have touched on the word ‘chosen’, it is imperative that your choice is made wisely. It is safe to say there are hundreds upon hundreds of outsourced HR providers, most of which proclaim to offer much the same, our sincere advice it to shop around, by doing so you should find the provider that is right for your business, needs, culture, growth strategy and meets your budget.

It is also worth noting that company’s offer outsourcing when HR is not their expertise, we would always advise caution if so…

let’s take a closer look at the do’s and the don’ts when making your choice in provider below:

Don’t reinvent the wheel

If you are already doing something really well then don’t outsource it, or that element, it maybe you have a payroll provider or use HR software to track time and attendance, if that’s the case then don’t outsource that element. Why? Well, in essence your new provider will only need to subsequently offer another solution, this will be at a cost and ultimately it may not be the most suitable from your perspective either.

Always worth remembering, outsourcing your HR does not mean you are absolved of good people management practice, nor does it mean you relinquish all responsibility for the provision of HR, as an Employer you still have a duty to comply.

Don’t’ agree to unfavourable contractual terms

It really is not unusual for outsourced providers service agreements (contracts) to be 5-10 years in length, it is advisable prior to entering into any agreement (contract) that you have a clear and concise overview not just of your internal business current and future business strategy and potential changing business, including any risk and also that you are more than happy with your chosen provider; this will help you avoid being tied into unfavourable contractual agreements.

Find the right fit for you

With so many providers it can be hard to choose, you should choose based on your personal preference, this means can you work with them?, are they aligned to your own goals?, it may be they are a call centre and that is not your preferred choice, if so look for a provider who offers a 1-1 service, you should always discuss internal service levels and how they are achieved, many providers advertise they are open at times and days when they are not, let’s say you don’t operate 9-5 Monday – Friday, and you have a HR disaster, in the evening or weekend, can it really wait until Monday morning…

Establish the size and qualifications/experience of the team, it maybe they cannot handle your requirements.

Do they cover all the elements you need, for example; it maybe you have an ongoing requirement to TUPE, site visits, or perhaps restructures leading to redundancies, it is advisable to investigate the providers knowledge and experience in the field and also any additional fees involved, many hide these fees and once you need access to them your agreed low payment can easily start to escalate.

What do their credentials look and sound like, have and are they really HR Professionals, have they got experience in their field, a word of warning many don’t.

It may also be they proclaim to be your HRO but the product they offer is being white labelled, that means it’s not the company you’ve engaged doing the work, in fact they are outsourcing to someone else…

Location, location, location

You may want to consider the location of your new provider, many advertise they are in your area but where are they actually based? this may not be an immediate issue, but it maybe you need a site visit, in that case how much will that cost you if they even offer the service.

Worth remembering, location can also be a deal breaker in some cases there may be a loss of local knowledge, processes, culture, language, and legislation.

Templates or bespoke

Be clear from the outset what your needs are, many outsourced providers will issue template documents, this would include, handbooks, contracts of employment and should you require correspondence for your Employees that would be the same, is this something that you want, templates will lead to your internal processes being repeated by yourself and not in line with your preferences.

Should you have the option for bespoke documents, we really do advise you choose this option but ask for evidence of what they mean by bespoke or templates, believe us, we have seen many and they really are not bespoke…clarifying your position and your requirements is a priority, ultimately a provider who can really provide you with a ‘true bespoke service’  in the long term will be far more cost effective and free up your/HR time.

Here’s a biggie, avoid cheap deals

You will have heard this before many, many times, ‘you get what you pay for’ it really is true though. Our suggestion is you check out what the provider/proposal is offering you, that you look out for hidden fees and costs, these will be elements such as extras for site visits, bespoke documents, calls and email responses ‘out of hours’ or over your cap and extra services.

Ask how the HRO charges for add-ons for services, don’t forget services such as restructures and TUPE, we know some charge thousands in extra fees for services like this.

If a deal looks too good to be true if often is, it can cost more in the long run. On a final note here, if the provider doesn’t send you a fully outlined proposal then question why?.

The power of true testimonials

Whilst many providers have reviews/testimonials in some cases these leave a lot to be desired, if you do some digging you may find the connection and it may not be a true client relationship, many work on referrals, are part of business networking and pass reviews this way. We suggest you ask to speak directly to a current client, that way you will find out the real truth behind the provider and whether they will be a good fit for you.

Try before you buy

If you are hesitant, why not try out the new provider for a period of time, if they have a Pay&Go service you could access this for documents or advice and guidance, that way you can test them out first.


Should I have an agreement with my new provider?

The operation of any HR outsourcing arrangement should be governed by a service level agreement (the contract); it should clearly define the required standards of performance by both parties and should be inclusive of penalties for non-compliance, it is a crucial document, they should be commonplace for a HRO, we would be very wary if you were not issued one, it maybe you need to negotiate this to any of the risks we have covered.


So, should you Outsource and importantly to who?

Ultimately, we would say yes in most cases, the choice really is yours and what works for your business, by following the advice above then we feel you should not go far wrong, it is the same in many industries that outsource, choosing wisely is the most important piece of advice we can provide.

We know that we that some prospective clients do not choose to work with us, we understand that we may not be the right option for them, we know some great HRO’s and some that leave an awful lot to be desired, we are always more than happy to recommend alternative HRO’s who we feel would offer alternative packages, or closer meet their budget.

Remember, and it is advisable to check out if HR is their specialism, many company’s use white labelled services, or they outsource the work to a specialist, that means you wont get the service you want from them direct.


How can we help?

We really are experts dealing with your outsourced HR, and Employment Law matters, we have over 70 years experience in the field, our team are fully qualified and have experience. We offer HR that works for our clients, should you want to have an impartial free chat you can contact one of our team today; contact us on: 0333 0069489 or email us on: [email protected]




This article contains a general overview of information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.

HR and You Ltd, owns the copyright in this document. You must not use this document in any way that infringes the intellectual property rights in it. You may download and print this document which you may then use, for your own internal non-profit making purposes. However, under no circumstances are you permitted to use, copy, or reproduce this document with a view to profit or gain. In addition, you must not sell or distribute this document to third parties who are not members of your organisation, whether for monetary payment or otherwise. This document is intended to serve as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. This document should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a HR and You Ltd Consultant or a member of our legal team. In no circumstances will HR and You Ltd, or any company within HR and You Ltd be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information contained within this document or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.


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