7 Best HR consulting firms

We’ve compiled a selection of top HR consulting firms working in the UK today. Read on to learn more about these standout providers, and compare quotes for your business

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

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We think the best Human Resources (HR) consultancy firm for SMEs is Avensure, thanks to its strong core functions, and impressive capabilities relating to employment law and health and safety.

However, HR is a department that wears many hats. What works for ten other companies might not work for yours. The market is also fierce, with lots of brands promising ‘essential’ features that you might not need, at poor-value prices. We believe the following are the best you can choose between:

Best HR Service Providers at a glance

  1. Avensure – Best for employment law
  2. citrusHR – Best for affordable and varied HR packages
  3. Moorepay – Best for payroll services
  4. Wirehouse HR – Best for health and safety
  5. HR Solutions – Best for HR training
  6. Peninsula – Best for general HR services
  7. Whitecollars – Best for a bespoke, expert HR consultancy

Don’t overspend – you can click any of the links above to begin comparing fees on HR service providers for your own business’s size and needs.

Here at Startups, we have been supporting small businesses since 2000. We understand which factors, both general and sector-specific, are the most important for business owners to consider when finding the best HR service provider.

In this article, we’ve selected and reviewed the 7 best HR consulting firms for small businesses and startups in the UK, with insight from senior professionals. We’ll provide an expert breakdown of what to look for from an HR consultant, what you can expect to pay, and whether it’s a good fit for your firm.

For personalised help finding the right HR service at the right price, you can use our free and simple HR service cost comparison form to get a better idea of tailored costs for your business needs. In just one minute, we’ll be able to match you with HR service quotes that can give you the best value for money.

Best UK HR consulting firms

What is an HR consulting service?

Human resource (HR) consultants are third-party specialists hired by business owners to help them develop a robust and compliant people strategy.

Choosing an HR service is particularly helpful for small businesses, who might not have the resources to hire a full people team when they are early-on in their growth strategy. Partnering with an HR consultant means companies can receive experienced counseling without risking budget.

HR consultants can be introduced at any point in the department’s journey. You might bring one on board to improve your strategy, and advise on where there might be faults. Or, you might bring one in to help you define a specific people management plan and how you will implement it.

Some of the activities that an HR consultant can help with include recruiting and onboarding new recruits, training existing employees via workshops or mentorship, developing a benefits and perks package for staff, and supporting with company messaging.

1. Avensure

Avensure was founded in 2011, and has since garnered an excellent rating on Trustpilot of 4.8, not to mention a 2019 Feefo Gold Trusted Award. Avensure has a strong track record for success and happy customers, working with clients in the retail, care, and transport industries, to name a few.

What does Avensure do?

Avensure offers outsourced HR services in the following packages:

  • HR Protect – HR and employment law
  • HS Protect – health and safety
  • Total Business Protect – a combination of Avensure’s HR and health and safety services
Type of serviceWhat it offers
Employment lawOne-to-one support and advice available 24/7, covering contracts, policies, handbooks, employment tribunal cover, and more
Health and safetySite evaluations, action plans, and relevant training; email updates on sector developments; 24/7 access to health and safety experts
Total Business ProtectCombined employment law and health and safety services. Offers complete coverage across a range of HR; ideal for SME businesses

How much does Avensure cost?

Avensure’s HR Protect package is offered on a fixed monthly fee basis. This helps to make the costs of the core HR functions clear and simple from your point of view as a business owner.

The HS Protect service is available on a consultancy basis, depending on individual business requirements.

Why choose Avensure?

Avensure makes sure that clients are completely covered – there are a range of packages to choose from, as well as the ability to contact the same team members whenever you need assistance.

Avensure is best for HR and employment law, as well as health and safety HR consulting.

Avensure’s specialisms make it ideal for a range of small to large businesses looking to outsource the essential elements of HR. Though its services aren’t designed for small businesses only, such businesses (those with 0-50 employees) do account for 53% of its clients.

Avensure Pros
  • HR Protect service is provided on a fixed fee package basis, making it easier to budget
  • Employment tribunal cover and representation available
  • Specialises in employment law and health and safety
  • Health and safety site evaluations offered
Avensure Cons
  • May not be ideal for businesses who don't need specialist employment law or health and safety support
  • Services aren’t aimed specifically at small businesses
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2. citrusHR

citrusHR specialises in solutions for startups, small businesses, and charities. It provides a complete and comprehensive HR support service covering everything you need, as well as offering HR and payroll software.

What does citrusHR do?

Companies benefit from a personal HR consultant who is able to offer advice on what your business needs across various areas of HR.

citrusHR covers the full range of HR requirements:

  • Disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • Health and safety management
  • Performance management
  • Tailored staff handbooks
  • Employment contracts
  • Ongoing HR support
  • Up-to-date advice
  • Employment law
  • Redundancy

Plus, you can benefit from citrusHR’s own in-house HR software, which is tailored towards small businesses. It provides a central location for managing employee data, as well as absences and holidays, plus the latest coronavirus support.

How much does citrusHR cost?

Its services are cost-effective, and represent an affordable option for many small businesses. citrusHR is transparent about its pricing, and offers monthly rolling contracts. The costs for its HR Support and HR Software services are as follows:

  • HR Support Service – £8 per employee (plus £50 flat rate)
  • HR Software-only – £2.50 per employee (minimum charge £20)

With the HR Support Service option, there’s a 10% discount available for charities. citrusHR also offers payroll software, which is available in addition to the above services, and costs as £1 per month, per employee. For both plans, you’ll also get no setup fees and no minimum contract length.

Why choose citrusHR?

citrusHR is best for catering to small businesses and charities, and for offering affordable HR packages.

citrusHR is an excellent choice because it’s able to handle a range of HR issues, which can greatly relieve pressure on your business and team members. Although it may not be an ideal choice once your business has grown considerably, until that day comes, citrusHR is a perfect option.

CitrusHR Pros
  • Your business is provided with a personal HR consultant
  • Specialises in supporting small businesses and charities
  • Offers a full range of HR services and software
  • Package deals are available
CitrusHR Cons
  • As it’s a generalist service, there aren’t any particular areas of HR that CitrusHR focuses on
  • May not be suitable for bigger businesses
  • Only a handful of reviews are available

3. Moorepay

Big name brands such as Starling Bank have all used Moorepay. In fact, the company states that one in six of the UK’s working population is paid by Moorepay and Zellis. It also has more than 10,000 business customers, and can offer a personalised service with HR specialists on hand whenever they’re needed.

What does Moorepay do?

Founded in 1966, Moorepay specialises in payroll and generalised HR services for small and large businesses alike. Moorepay makes sense of things like benefits, pensions, and payments, as well as offering general HR solutions, so that you can get on with managing other important functions of your business.

How much does Moorepay cost?

Moorepay does not share its prices publicly. However, it does offer the ability to get a quote for its services.

Why choose Moorepay?

Moorepay operates through a combination of software provision and HR support. In addition to its expert payroll services, Moorepay offers generalised HR services, which include health and safety management, employment law, and people analytics.

Moorepay is best for payroll services and generalised HR consulting.

Having started in payroll, this is undoubtedly where Moorepay stands out from the competition. However, the range of services that it offers means that Moorepay can help small businesses to operate efficiently and effectively across a broad range of HR topics.

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Moorepay Pros
  • An established business with more than 10,000 customers
  • Has worked with well-known brands
  • HR support and software available
  • 4.5 score on Trustpilot
Moorepay Cons
  • Some small businesses may feel a lack of personal connection due to Moorepay's broad customer base
  • If your business doesn’t require payroll assistance specifically, then other providers could be more suitable
  • No pricing information available on the Moorepay website
Compare HR Companies Today

Keen to find the best HR provider for your business, but don’t want to spend too much time searching? To compare HR companies easily and quickly, use our simple cost comparison form to hear direct quotes from HR providers that match your unique business profile.

4. Wirehouse HR

Founded in 2010, Wirehouse HR describes itself as “a company steeped in a long history of service and expertise”.

Customer feedback tells us that Wirehouse boasts possibly the best customer support team on this list. HR processes can be confusing to understand, but users report that Wirehouse’s prompt helpdesk keeps them on track and focusing on their main business activities.

What does Wirehouse HR do?

Wirehouse Employer Services offers outsourced HR services in the following areas:

HR Package24/7 HR advice line, employment law documentation, contracts and handbooks, employment tribunal advice, and guarantee cover (indemnified advice)
HR ConsultancyOne off consultancy to help solve your HR issues from onsite/online, grievance hearings, and strategic reviews
Health & Safety Packages24/7 advice line, documentation, audits and onsite visits by consultants. Also emergency support, and bespoke software to provide action plans to keep you compliant

How much do Wirehouse Employer Services cost?

Wirehouse HR costs are either billed as a retained fee (package) or one-off consultancy. Prices are only available on request, so we can’t mark them highly for transparent fees.

However, unlike options like citrusHR, you’ll be able to discuss pricing directly with a sales representative to design your own bespoke pricing plan, which could be seen as an advantage – particularly for those requiring specialist HR services.

Why choose Wirehouse Employer Services?

Advice support lines are available 24/7. Both curious business owners as well as existing customers will be able to make use of the Wirehouse support team as there are no caps on the usage. Wirehouse also claims not to have hidden renewals in its contracts, so customers should have complete control over their contract length.

Wirehouse HR is best for small business employment law and health and safety. This makes it a good option for firms hiring from abroad or based in riskier sectors, like construction.

Wirehouse Pros
  • Unlimited advice which is indemnified (customers are compensated for any losses or damages incurred from poor advice)
  • No hidden renewals on contracts, so you won't get tied into an overly-long contract
  • Dedicated consultants will work directly with your team for easier collaboration
  • Flexible packages can suit many budgets/business sizes
Wirehouse Cons
  • Like Moorepay, Wirehouse does not display upfront costs on its website
  • No payroll provision. Brands like Moorepay will be more suitable for companies wanting a payroll solution

5. HR Solutions

HR Solutions was launched in 2001, and began life as a family-run small business. The enterprise has developed and expanded considerably since then, but its humble background means that HR Solutions understands first hand the needs of small businesses.

What does HR Solutions do?

HR Solutions offers an extensive range of HR services, including both support and software, and covers everything from audits and payroll to recruitment and more. It can also provide health and safety management.

How much does HR Solutions cost?

Its services are available on a per hour or per package basis, meaning that it’s easy to understand how much the support that your business requires might cost. Some pricing examples include:

HR for SME & New BusinessPackage (one-off)Starting from £395 + VAT
Retained HR ServicesPackage (monthly)Starting from £138 per month
Ad hoc HR SupportPer hour£109.50 per hour

Why choose HR Solutions?

HR Solutions runs seminars, webinars, and online training sessions, providing plenty of ways to ensure that your small business is compliant with the correct HR policies and procedures.

HR Solutions is best for startups that are looking for virtual support – HR Solutions has a wide range of support and software available online, which can provide invaluable guidance for fledgeling businesses.

But with so many options available, HR Solutions may not be ideal for small businesses that are looking for a company with a more specialist approach.

HR Solutions Pros
  • Offers a wide range of HR services and software
  • Began life as a family-run small business, so knows about good customer service
  • Easy to understand pricing
  • Online resources are available
HR Solutions Cons
  • May not be suitable for small businesses that need more specific HR support
  • Not suitable for larger companies
Is your chosen HR provider accredited?

Katy McMinn, co-founder and director of HRi, says the key thing for any business owner to consider when bringing in an HR professional is whether they are accredited by a relevant professional body.

“This will give the business owner peace of mind, and the reassurance that the HR firm is working to a recognised industry standard and has the right capability, expertise, and knowledge to fall back on.”

6. Peninsula

Peninsula has been providing HR support since 1983, and has worked with more than 33,000 businesses. It operates across the UK, as well as in Ireland, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

What does Peninsula do?

Offering a range of services – including employment law and HR, as well as health and safety – Peninsula can provide on-site and software-based HR support. It offers 24-hour HR and health and safety advice, with wellbeing services such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) and mental health training also available.

How much does Peninsula cost?

You can choose from either the HR or health and safety packages, or a combined package, which offers both services. Peninsula’s pricing is calculated on a per employee, per month basis, with one to five year terms available.

As a guideline, here’s an example of starting prices for Peninsula’s mid-level product pricing, based on ten employees:

  • Peninsula HR – from £15.70 per employee, per month
  • Peninsula HR and health and safety – from £14.90 per employee, per month
  • Peninsula health and safety – from £29.07 per employee, per month

Visit our HR outsourcing costs page for more general information about how much you can expect to pay for HR services.

Why choose Peninsula?

Peninsula began as a startup, meaning it knows all too well the specific requirements of small businesses. It offers a variety of HR, health and safety, and well-being services, as well as dedicated corporate solutions. And with its simple pricing system, it’s easy to understand just exactly what you’re paying for, and how much it’ll set you back.

Peninsula is best for a variety of HR consultancy services, and is a highly-rated, award-winning company.

However, due to Peninsula’s size and scale, some small businesses might find that it lacks the personalised approach of a smaller provider.

Peninsula Pros
  • More than 4,000 Trustpilot reviews, with an Excellent rating overall
  • Established HR firm with a substantial client base
  • Advice is available on a 24-hour basis
  • Clear pricing structure available on the Peninsula website
Peninsula Cons
  • May be too generalist for companies wanting support in very specific areas of HR
HR Software: an alternative to HR outsourcing

If you’d rather take responsibility for your people team functions, then HR software is an excellent, DIY option for managing your employees.

The right software provider could still give you access to expert advice and knowledge, while giving you greater control over your HR functions at a lower cost. To find out more, read our comprehensive guide to the best HR software for small businesses.

7. Whitecollars

Founded in 2018, Whitecollars is a relatively fresh startup itself, and knows a thing or two about what other small businesses might need from an HR firm. It operates both in the UK and overseas, helping small businesses and corporate companies with their assorted HR demands.

What does Whitecollars do?

Whitecollars can assist with a number of HR tasks, including recruitment, performance management, and HR surveys. Its services can also be customised based on your business requirements.

How much does Whitecollars cost?

Pricing information isn’t available on the Whitecollars website. However, it does say that it offers a three-month trial period with a money back guarantee.

Why choose Whitecollars?

Not only does Whitecollars offer a team with plenty of international experience, but 80% of its staff have Masters degrees, while all team members boast HR certifications.

During a project, assistance is available 24/7, and it also offers support after a project has been completed.

Whitecollars is best for small to large businesses that want to work with an HR startup, as it’s more likely to have an understanding of the current issues and challenges facing small businesses.

Whitecollar Pros
  • International experience means it's great for virtual teams operating abroad
  • Highly qualified staff
  • Positive feedback from existing customers on Clutch
Whitecollar Cons
  • Pricing information is unavailable on its website
  • Less experienced than some other providers

How does an HR consulting service work?

Bringing in an HR consultancy is like hiring a new member of the team: it requires careful vetting and selection to find the best candidate for the job.

Companies should spend a few weeks researching the top HR consultancy providers. Then, they should request an action plan from the service, to get an idea of how the company might help and what ideas it has for improvement.

Once hired, the HR consultant will carry out employee surveys and research to formulate a full strategic plan. The help will be tailored to the needs of the company, ranging from providing employee training and support, to creating an efficient payroll system.

Employee performance is another area HR specialists can help with. If you feel a person may be underperforming, HR teams can help you to develop a bespoke Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to encourage greater productivity.

What types of businesses are HR consulting services suitable for?

Because HR consultants offer a bespoke solution compared to HR software, they tend to be more expensive than the latter. That means they’re a better option for larger teams of 10+ employees more than a year into operation, as these are likely to have slightly bigger cash reserves.

Scaling companies can still invest in an HR consultant, however. If you plan to expand your team in the next few years, hiring a specialist advisor early-on will help to develop the correct policies and procedures in place to support this growth.

Although all HR consultants follow general consulting practices, businesses should look for a specialist with experience in their industry. Healthcare firms will have different recruitment needs to a remote tech company, for example.

Best HR Service Providers: a summary

  1. Avensure – Best for HR employment law
  2. citrusHR – Best for affordability and varied HR packages; specialises in small businesses and charities
  3. Moorepay – Best for large employers (10+ employees) needing a focus on payroll services
  4. Wirehouse HR – Best for small construction firms needing a focus on health and safety
  5. HR Solutions – Best for small businesses without human resource personnel, and wanting HR training
  6. Peninsula – Best for a broad range of HR services
  7. Whitecollars – Best for small businesses wanting bespoke, personalised customer service

Click any of the links above to begin comparing costs on HR services for your own company’s size and needs.

Choosing an HR consultant: next steps

Selecting an HR provider is an important decision, with many factors to take into consideration. While requirements are likely to vary between businesses, we offer insight from an HR expert who details some of the essential elements to assess.

Gabby Smith, HR director at British Assessment Bureau, tells Startups: “As a startup or a small business, you need to balance the cost of an HR company with a service that’s there when you need it. Look for these three vital things in your HR company:

  1. Experience: you don’t want to spend time explaining your business, so consider an HR company that already understands your industry
  2. Dedicated contact: speaking to someone different each time you call means you’ll constantly be wasting time explaining your needs
  3. Easy to reach: you might not need your HR company every day, but when you do, they should be easy to contact. Do they offer telephone support? Email? Live chat? Don’t forget to check which timezone they operate in, too.”
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do I find the right HR consultant?
    Firstly, check references and contacts to learn more about the brand's industry reputation. Ensure it specialises in your industry and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Finally, speak to a sales rep to find out how personable the customer support team is. Look for the availability of tailored solutions and clear pricing plans.
  • What’s the best HR firm for a business on a budget?
    If you’re looking to enlist a top-notch HR consultancy in the UK without paying sky-high prices, we suggest CitrusHR. It offers affordable and easy-to-understand pricing, as HR services costs £8 per employee, per month (plus a flat fee of £50).
  • What’s the best HR company for small businesses?
    We’d suggest Peninsula as the best HR company for startups and small businesses. Peninsula’s focus on HR training – along with its 24-hour support options – make it a reassuring choice for beginners.
  • What HR does a small business need?
    Small businessses should use HR providers to carry out various people management tasks including recruitment, employment law, employee development, payroll, and health and safety monitoring. On top of this, they can be used as third-party data stores for keeping track of staff admin and grievances.
Have you ever used an HR service provider before?

Find the best option for your business today

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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