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Hiring a part-time HR director

The first few years of growth at an SME can be both rapid and exciting. Yet in many cases, the sheer pace of growth can mean the business lacks the necessary structure and processes required for sustainability. Often in the early years, the HR function is handled by the founder of the business or the Financial Director rather than an HR Director. Amongst already busy roles, they struggle to fit in basic tasks such as offer letters, contracts and payroll. Whilst this can work for a while, with growth comes the need for a more refined approach to HR.

You’ll need a professional to look after the people side of your business – the workforce. By hiring your first Head of HR you’ll be able to benefit from the impact of “best practice” in talent management, reward benchmarking, succession planning, training, recruitment and retention, all adding a tangible value to your bottom line.

Even with all the benefits on offer, making the decision to hire your first Head of HR is always a difficult one. The cost implications of hiring a full time employee can often be a stumbling block for SMEs. Fortunately, there is another way – hiring a senior professional on a part-time basis.

In this post we’re going to make the case for hiring your Head of HR role on a part-time basis, whilst giving you the advice you’ll need to hire the right HR professional for your growing business.

Benefits of hiring a part-time Head of HR for your SME

By hiring a part-time Head of HR you’ll get the expert knowledge you need for a fraction of the cost. As an SME, you don’t need an army of full-time HR people to achieve a robust HR function. What you do need is a professional with the skills, knowledge and ability to strategically create and implement HR policy. An experienced HR professional will provide a rounded approach to talent attraction, recruitment and retention, giving you an engaged workforce with the skills your company needs for sustainable growth. Can you really afford to delay hiring a Head of HR?

What makes for a good Head of HR for an SME?

Spotting a good HR leader that’s right for your SME will take some careful thought. First and foremost, they need to understand you, your business and your vision. There’s no point in having a Head of HR that knows everything about HR, but is difficult to work with and doesn’t get the needs of your business. Finding an HR professional with good communication skills and cultural fit is essential, you’re going to be spending a fair bit of time with them.

Another thing to keep in mind is that HR professionals that have solely built their experience in large, established companies might not have the necessary skills or experience to work in a high-growth SME environment. It’s important to look for someone that understands the needs and difficulties associated with a growing company. HR professionals with a good understanding of business as well as HR, will make a better tactical hire for your SME.

A good Head of HR will also have an enquiring and analytical mind. You need a hire that can look at your processes objectively, analyse performance and efficacy, and have the vision to design better processes based on quantifiable data.

At the very core of recruitment and talent management is the ability to sell. To recruit the staff your company needs, they’ll need to be able to “sell” the dream of working for your organisation, especially if you want to attract high quality talent. This ability to sell will manifest itself in great communication skills, a thorough understanding of your business and sector, and the experience of sustained recruitment drives with low turn-over rates. A high calibre candidate will have the stats to back up their experience so don’t be afraid to ask them to quantify their skills.

As well as selling the organisation, your Head of HR will need to play well with others. Some directors can be so bogged down in policy they forget their role is to facilitate positive change, whilst looking after your workforce. In doing so, they’ll need to be approachable and have bags of empathy to understand the needs of your workforce as well as the business.

The final quality to look for in this non-exhaustive list is to look for innovation. Not every problem has a straightforward solution. Your Head of HR may need to leverage new technology or think outside the box to deliver the best solution for your employees and your organisation. Having someone that can think on their feet and be creative will be of great benefit to your growing SME.

Capability Jane Recruitment specialise in sourcing part-time professionals for SMEs. If you’re looking to expand your team, contact us to find out how we could support your business.

Author: Caroline Doherty, Senior Account Manager, carolinedoherty@capabilityjane.com