Your Guide to HR Outsourcing (HRO)

what is human resource outsourcing

What is Human Resource Outsourcing?

Human Resource Outsourcing (HRO) is when a company chooses to have an outside firm take care of all or some of its tasks related to managing and supporting its employees instead of doing these tasks internally.

This can include a wide range of activities, such as hiring new staff, managing payroll, and conducting training programs. Essentially, it’s like hiring an external team to handle the jobs that an internal HR department would typically do, allowing the company to focus more on its core business areas.

In this article we explore the various types of HRO services, who uses them and the potential pros and cons to an outsourced solution.

Jump to section:

Understanding the Types of HRO Services

Let’s take a clook at the core services offered by Human Resource Outsourcing (HRO), which helps companies manage everything from payroll to how happy employees are at work. This section breaks down how each service works and why it’s important for businesses.

Payroll Administration involves calculating wages, deductions, and taxes for employees. It ensures timely and accurate payroll processing and compliance with tax laws. This service reduces the administrative burden and ensures that employees are paid correctly and on time.

Benefits Administration manages all aspects of employee benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks. It includes handling enrollments, liaising with providers, answering employee queries, and enhancing employee satisfaction and retention through efficiently managed benefits.

Recruitment and Talent Acquisition cover the entire hiring process, from job posting to onboarding new hires. This includes developing strategies to attract top talent, screening applicants, conducting interviews, and negotiating job offers. Outsourcing recruitment can improve the quality of hires and reduce the time to hire, allowing companies to focus on their core operations.

Training and Development identifies employee training needs and provides or sources training programs to enhance their skills and professional growth. Training and Development services supports employees’ career development, improves job performance, and ensures the workforce is equipped with current and relevant skills.

Compliance Management ensures that a company’s policies and practices adhere to local, national, and international labour laws and regulations. This service mitigates the risks associated with non-compliance by managing documentation, reporting, and policy updates.

Employee Relations focuses on maintaining positive communication between management and employees, addressing grievances, and fostering a positive work environment. This includes managing disputes, conducting exit interviews, and developing policies that promote a healthy organisational culture. By improving employee engagement and satisfaction, this service helps to reduce turnover rates.

Who Uses HROs?

Human Resource Outsourcing isn’t one-size-fits-all; it’s a versatile solution that benefits a wide range of businesses:

  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): For SMEs, HRO is an essential service. It allows access to HR expertise without the cost of a full-time department, freeing up resources to focus on growth and innovation.
  • Large Companies: Big businesses leverage HRO to navigate the complexities of global compliance and to streamline HR processes across multiple countries, enhancing operational efficiency on a large scale.
  • Industries with High Compliance Needs: Companies in highly regulated sectors like healthcare and finance find utilise HRO for maintaining strict compliance without diverting focus from core activities.

Each business type finds unique value in HRO, whether scaling HR capabilities, managing compliance, or simply optimising resources to focus on what they do best.

Looking for HR Support?

Connect with our specialists to discover how we can provide your business with professional, yet approachable, HR support.

Get in touch

Potential Advantages to Using HRO

There are various advantages and challenges linked to HR outsourcing. Recognising these can guide organisations in making an informed decision, ensuring they weigh the potential for improved efficiency, access to expertise, and cost savings against the challenges of managing external partnerships and integrating outsourced services with existing business processes.

Expertise and Experience

HRO companies bring specialist knowledge and experience in managing diverse HR functions. This expertise ensures that HR processes are up to date with industry trends, technologies, and regulatory requirements. Companies using an HRO can benefit from high-level HR capabilities without investing heavily in training or hiring specialist employees.

Cost Savings

As briefly mentioned previously, outsourcing your HR function can significantly reduce cost. An outsourced HR solution reduces overhead costs associated with maintaining and internal HR department, such as salaries, benefits and HR software.

You Can Focus on Your Core Business

One of the biggest advantages of HRO is that it enables your business to concentrate on its core operations. By delegating HR tasks to an external provider, companies can dedicate more time and resources to strategic areas such as product development, market expansion and customer engagement, which are all essential for competitive advantage and business growth.

Compliance and Risk Management

HR consultancies have experts who stay up-to-date with employment laws, making sure your business is always compliant. They also work to minimize HR-related risks, like workplace conflicts and safety problems, by implementing effective policies and training. Furthermore, these consultancies guide your business’s growth while keeping compliance at the forefront, ensuring you consider legal requirements from the beginning.


Businesses that use HRO are better positioned to adjust the service level they invest in to fit their current needs – whether they’re growing, scaling down, or handling seasonal changes. It’s this flexibility that enables companies to respond to market shifts efficiently without concern for staff levels.

Potential Disadvantages to HRO

Less Control

Trusting someone else with business operations, particularly as integral as HR, can make you feel like you’re relinquishing control. This is why it’s important to choose the right HR partner who approaches your business with the same dedication and commitment as you do. Great HR businesses will understand your business, ensuring that their support and advice are tailored to your business operations as if they were your in-house team. The goal is to become an extension of your business, offering expertise and solutions that support your vision and direction.

Less Personal-approach

Some businesses may be concerned that an outsourced solution might be less personable than an in-house HR team. The ‘human’ aspect of HR is essential, and a good HR company will understand this. Some agencies offer dedicated HR Consultants who are available to attend onsite meetings and deliver training sessions.

Slow Answers and Solutions

As a company considering using an HRO, you may be concerned that issues may take longer to be solves and that it could lead to frustrated employees and backlogs. This is another area you should explore when researching an HR service. Ask them about service delivery, how long it takes to get responses to queries and how they prevent backlogs. Most HRO’s will be able to reccomend the right level of service to meet your specific needs.

Privacy and Security

Nowadays, keeping personal and business data safe is more important than ever. As a business owner, you know how crucial it is to protect your information. You might wonder about handing this responsibility over to someone else. It’s key to ask your HRO provider how they keep your data secure. Here are key considerations for ensuring your data remains secure with an KRO provider.

  • Certifications: Such as ISO 27001, indicating robust information security management.
  • Compliance Standards: Providers should adhere to GDPR and other relevant laws, showcasing a commitment to data privacy.
  • Security Measures: Including advanced encryption and regular audits by third-party experts to prevent data breaches.


Choosing Human Resource Outsourcing (HRO) is a big step for any business, aiming to simplify HR tasks and focus on what really matters—growing your company. From small startups to large corporations, HRO offers tailored solutions to fit every need, ensuring your HR operations are efficient and your team is supported.

Before diving into HRO, weigh the benefits like cost savings and specialised expertise against potential challenges such as adjusting to less direct control over HR functions and ensuring data security. The key is finding the right HRO partner who understands your business and can seamlessly integrate with your team.

HRO can be a powerful tool for businesses ready to streamline their HR processes and concentrate on their core goals. With the right approach and partner, stepping into the world of HRO can lead to significant advantages, paving the way for future success and innovation.

Sarah McKee-Harris Portrait

Sarah McKee-Harris
CEO & Founder

Sarah has 19 years of experience in HR tTalent Acquisition, working extensively in both London and Essex. Her approach to HR is rooted in a simple yet effective philosophy: taking the time to listen, understand, and question our clients to pinpoint their unique business needs.

Looking for Outsourced HR Services?

Call 01245 204450 to talk to one of our HR professionals today, or use our simple online contact form.

Outsourced HR Services

Talk to a HR professional today 01245 204450