If you’ve reached the point where you need HR advisory support, you obviously want to be sure that you are choosing the best provider for your business needs.

A good way to find the right advisory service is to ask them targeted questions that highlight their capabilities.

Here are 14 of the most important questions you need to ask before making your decision:

1. How much does the service cost and what is included?

Although it’s not just about money, you have to be able to justify the investment, so find out whether there are any extras or hidden costs, such as an implementation fee or charges for upgrades or specialist advices, as well as what the pricing structure is, linked to what contract term and what’s included in the service scope and especially what is not – you wouldn’t want any nasty surprises down the line! Also, check out the termination clauses in any service contract. You may find some interesting conditions placed on you to allow an easy exit if things are not working out as planned!

2. Do I get a personal advisory team working with me and my business?

One of the biggest complaints about online and helpline advisory services is the call-centre nature of the advice. It’s frustrating calling and having to explain to another person about your department’s issues for the 100th time. It’s even more frustrating when that person can’t give you tailored advice specific to your company and only offers generic, non-commercial help. Ensuring you have a dedicated personal advisory team including specialist employment lawyers is essential.

3. What service level standards do you offer?

If you’re planning to partner with a provider, it’s important to ensure you have agreement on the level of service they will provide you with. Do they have a maximum call back time? How responsive are they likely to be? Do they have statistics to back up their claims?

4. Have you previously worked with customers in our industry?

If your industry has particular nuances specific to you, it’s important to find out what experience they have with similar organisations in your industry, so that you know they are well-versed in it. If you’re after direct feedback or recommendations, ask for customer references.

5. How are you planning to get to know my department/business?

This ties in with the question above, in a way, because this is about how they will fit into your culture and beliefs and how they will become a part of your team. They need to be able to build up a rapport and relationship with you quickly and truly understand your culture, working styles and values. For one customer, our whole legal advisory team; operations and account management teams undertook a full E-Learning induction programme expected of their new Regional Directors and Branch Managers! It was tough, but provided an excellent working platform from day 1 and demonstrated a real commitment by our wider service delivery team to really become an extension of that in-house HR team immediately.

6. How will you communicate with us?

The best providers will ensure lines of communication are open whenever you need help. Find out whether they offer face-to-face support and when they are available for phone calls, email or instant chat. How do you reach them and how quickly will they respond in an emergency? How often will they visit you? It’s also important to know who you will be dealing with – will you have a dedicated team member, or different people at different times?

7. What guarantees can you give us?

You need to be 100% sure that the provider you choose will manage all your issues correctly and will provide you with good quality, timely and accurate advice that won’t leave the business at risk. What action will they take if they do make a mistake or fail to deliver on their promises?

8. Can you offer me a flexible solution?

You need a service that is tailored to your specific needs, so you have to be sure that they have the tools and capacity to customise their service, and scale up or down, as the HR department and business grows or changes. They need to fit in with you, rather than the other way around.

9. What makes you better than other HR advisory services?

Deciding on the right HR provider can be pretty confusing as there are often quite a few to choose from. By asking this question, you give them the opportunity to prove to you their service is the best fit for your needs.

10. Do I get online documentation as part of the package?

Having access to a range of letters, forms and templates for use in your business is a really useful additional element as part of your package. But find out who is drafting the documentation. Is it generic information provided to all customers or does your legal advisory team personally draft it to suit your business?

11. What is the length of my contract term and what is the process for ending the contract?

Some HR providers try to tie their customers into contracts with lengthy terms and notice periods, which may come up and bite you in the backside if something changes in the future. Before you sign anything, find out how long you will be tied into the contract and what the cancellation terms are if things go wrong.

12. Do you offer on-site support if we need it?

Sometimes you’ll need HR advisory support on-site and in those situations many advisory services fall down. The alternative is needing to find a suitable HR consultant or other outsourced individual capable of helping you. The problem, of course, is needing to explain all the issues again and explain your business to someone completely different…often at a critical time.

13. Is your advice regulated by the SRA or other legal regulator?

If you are being provided with employment law advice, ensuring all advice is regulated by the relevant body is key.

14. How important am I to your business?

This isn’t a question you necessarily need to ask the service’s sale person. It’s one you simply need to keep in mind when looking at the whole offering. What will happen after your make the decision to buy the service? What is the post-sales induction and support like? Will you be a “big deal” to their business or simply another face in the crowd?


Partnering with the right HR advisory service can bring huge benefits to your HR department, but it’s essential you are armed with the answers to these sorts of questions to help you make the right choice and find a provider who understands your needs and delivers true value.

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We are the HR and employment law experts from esphr.

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

Call 0333 006 2929 or email today to discover exactly how we can help you.