Human resource consultants typically have many duties. Generally, human resource consultants are outside experts who provide direction to the personnel or human resources (HR) department of an organization. Some human resource consultants are hired to handle recruitment and staffing, conduct performance appraisals, and determine compensation and benefits for employees. They may also be in charge of employee training and development, engage in employee and labor relations, ensure employee safety and health, and assume responsibility for human resource research.
As consultants, outside experts are often hired by companies for a specific purpose. For example, a human resource consultant may be hired to establish the recruiting and hiring practices of an organization to enable it to hire a superior workforce. This may involve creating a job description for each position within the organization and specifying the qualifications and performance standards for each job.
When an organization needs to hire an employee, the human resource department generally attracts qualified applicants through ads, screens the applicants, and interviews the most qualified candidates. The human resource department then either takes care of the hiring or refers the applicant to the appropriate line manager who makes the final decision. Sometimes human resource consultants are brought in to help with this process, or to teach the full-time HR staff how to effectively place employment ads or interview perspective employees.
Human resource consultants may also be hired to produce a formal evaluation system. This system helps managers to assess the performance of their employees. Periodic assessments can be important because they enable the human resource department to determine which individuals are deserving of promotions and bonuses and which ones are good candidates for advancement.
A company that is facing high costs and the need to lay-off employees may also hire a human resource consultant to provide help. Often it is easier for someone from outside the company to evaluate who should be retained and who should be let go since the consultant may not have the personal considerations of full-time staff. Furthermore, outside human resource consultants may be able to better evaluate which positions are necessary and which are redundant.
Human resource consultants may also assist with setting the guidelines for fair and equitable, legal and ethical payment of employees. This assistance may include structuring benefits packages in the form of vacation, sick days, insurance, and pensions with an eye toward providing an employee-oriented, high performance culture that is cost-effective. Outside consultants may be more familiar with legal rules and industry standards and better able to make these decisions.
Directing training and development can be another function of the human resource consultant. The consultant may come in to a company to ensure that new employees have the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to initially perform their jobs, and later on, the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to improve on their performance. Likewise, the consultant sees to it that employees also acquire new skills and knowledge that will enable them to expand their current skill set and to allow for advancement.
Finally, human resource consultants can be brought in to consult on workplace safety issues. A consultant can help establish guidelines that would provide a safe and healthy working environment for employees. The consultant sees to it that these guidelines are implemented and can monitor the tracking of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-required data.