7 Best HR Consulting Firms in 2021 (UK)
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
We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.This article was co-authored by:
Human Resources (HR) is a function that wears many hats. A business’s HR needs are constantly changing, and making sure you have the right skills to deal with HR activities – in the right place, and at the right time – can quickly become an issue for many small businesses.
Choosing the best HR company for your business is essential to receiving the HR support that your startup needs. Often, small businesses outsource this support to HR consulting firms.
In fact, Forbes included human resources as one of four key functions that startups can outsource to gain a competitive edge. But which HR company is best for your business needs?
If you’re reading this article, then you’re evidently looking for an HR consultancy. Startups.co.uk has been supporting small businesses since 2000. We understand which factors are the most important for business owners and entrepreneurs to take into consideration when deciding on an HR firm to work with.
We also know that the sheer range of HR consulting companies can seem overwhelming. For more personalised help finding the right company, tell us a little bit about what you need, and we'll match you with HR companies that make sense for your business.
Alternatively, read on to find out more about the UK’s leading HR consultancies. In this article, we've selected and reviewed some of the best HR consulting firms for small businesses and startups in the UK. We’ve also included insights from senior HR professionals, whose expert comments can offer additional advice on how to choose an HR firm.
We’ll provide detailed insight into each of these providers, with the aim of helping you to better understand them and how they could suit your business requirements. For other questions, feel free to jump to our HR consulting firms FAQ section if you need additional answers before you read on!
Our top picks for HR consulting companies
The table below features a brief comparison of the seven best UK HR consulting companies:
|HR consulting company||Best for||Suitable for|
|Avensure||HR, employment law, health and safety||Small to large businesses|
|citrusHR||Affordable and varied HR packages||Small businesses and charities|
|Moorepay||Payroll services and generalist HR support||Small to large businesses|
|HR Solutions||General HR services and online support||Small to medium businesses (SMBs)|
|Peninsula||Employment law and HR, health and safety, wellbeing||Small and corporate businesses|
|People Business||Specialist startup HR support||Small and growing businesses|
|Whitecollars||Small businesses wanting to work with a HR startup||Small to large businesses|
Best UK HR consulting firms
Read on for a deep dive into each of these seven providers. Or, for a more concise overview, head to the dedicated section ‘Best HR companies UK: Side-by-side comparison’.
What does Avensure do?
Avensure offers outsourced HR services in the following packages:
- HR Protect – HR and employment law
- HS Protect – health and safety
- Covid Secure Plus – a dedicated service for managing the implications of coronavirus
- Total Business Protect – a combination of Avensure's HR and health and safety services
|Type of service||What it offers|
|Employment law||One-to-one support and advice available 24/7, covering contracts, policies, handbooks, employment tribunal cover, and more|
|Health and safety||Site evaluations, action plans, and relevant training; email updates on sector developments; 24/7 access to health and safety experts|
|Total Business Protect||Combined employment law and health and safety services. Offers complete coverage across a range of HR; ideal for SME businesses|
|Covid Secure Plus||On-site assessment, certification and training to meet coronavirus guidance and regulations|
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.
Currently, the Covid Secure Plus service is included for free with the HS Protect and Total Business Protect packages.
Why choose 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.
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||Avensure cons|
|- 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
- COVID-19 secure services available
- 4.8 Trustpilot score
|- 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
What does citrusHR do?
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.
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
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:
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 follows:
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||citrusHR cons|
|- 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
Packages are available
|- As it’s a generalist service, there aren’t any particular areas of HR that it focuses on
- May not be suitable for bigger businesses
- Only a handful of reviews available
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.
It’s a part of the Zellis company, which offers HR services for businesses and governments internationally. Big name brands such as French Connection, Lavazza Professional, and Starling Bank have all used Moorepay, so you can be sure that your business will be in good hands.
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.
How much does Moorepay cost?
Pricing, as well as more general information about how you can expect to be charged, isn’t available on the Moorepay website. 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.
|Moorepay pros||Moorepay cons|
|- 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
- Payroll specialists
|- Some small businesses may feel a lack of personal connection due to Moorepay's broad customer base, as well as the size and scope of the business
- If your business doesn’t require payroll assistance specifically, then other providers could be more suitable
- No pricing information on its website
Are you keen to find the best HR provider for your business, but are worried about how long it might take? We understand that as a small business owner, time is a valuable resource for you – there are just so many different tasks to take care of!
To compare HR companies easily and quickly, simply fill in this short form and hear from providers based on your business requirements.
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, including COVID-19 specific services.
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.
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 Business||Package (one-off)||Starting from £395 + VAT|
|Retained HR Services||Package (monthly)||Starting from £138 per month|
|Ad hoc HR Support||Per 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||HR Solutions cons|
|- Offers a wide range of HR services and software|
- Began life as a family-run small business
- Easy to understand pricing
- Online resources available
|- May not be suitable for small businesses that need more specific HR support
- As it’s a small business, it may not be ideal for larger companies
What does Peninsula do?
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.
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 three employees over a five-year term:
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||Peninsula cons|
|- More than 4,000 Trustpilot reviews, with an excellent rating overall|
- Focused on the small business market
- Established HR firm with a substantial client base
- Advice is available on a 24-hour basis
- Clear pricing structure
|- May be too generalist for companies wanting support in very specific areas of HR
- Its size and scale may be intimidating for some small businesses
What does People Business do?
People Business has 20+ years of experience managing HR for businesses, including startups. Its primary areas of expertise are:
- Culture and engagement
- Leadership and talent
- HR support
People Business can provide guidance in many areas of people management, such as strategy, recruitment, training, and more. As well as supporting startups specifically, People Business is also equipped to help you handle any HR-related issues that you may face as your business grows.
How much does People Business cost?
Its services are available on either an ad hoc or retained basis. However, more detailed pricing information isn’t available online.
Why choose People Business?
People Business offers you access to a small, but highly experienced team of HR consultants. With its specialisms, People Business can help you with HR from when you’re launching right through to growing your business.
People Business is best for new and growing startups looking for specialist HR support.
It can offer HR support on policies, managerial guides, and letter templates, as well as advise on employment law. It’s also possible to request a custom service via the retained option.
|People Business pros||People Business cons|
|- Can support in-house HR team members|
- Experienced HR consulting company
- Offers specific support for startups
- Positive reviews
|- No pricing information online
- 24/7 support isn’t available
- Limited number of reviews
What does Whitecollars do?
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.
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.
|Whitecollars pros||Whitecollars cons|
|- Good reviews on Clutch|
- International experience
- It’s a startup itself
- Highly qualified staff
|- Pricing information is unavailable on its website
- Less experienced than some other providers
- Minimal reviews
Best HR companies UK: Side-by-side comparison
Here we outline some of the main areas of HR, and which of the providers listed on this page offer them.
|Avensure||citrusHR||Moorepay||HR Solutions||Peninsula||People Business||Whitecollars|
|Health and safety||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N|
|TUPE - Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)*||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
* TUPE refers to the regulations that may apply for employees when a business switches ownership. Read the CIPD introduction to TUPE for more information.
Choosing HR consulting companies: What are the next steps?
Selecting a 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.
To summarise, here are our top choices for UK HR consulting companies:
- Avensure – best for HR, employment law, and health and safety
- citrusHR – best for affordability and varied HR packages; specialises in small businesses and charities
- Moorepay – best for payroll services and general HR consultancy; has worked with well-known brands
- HR Solutions – best for small businesses looking for a generalist HR service
- Peninsula – best for a broad range of HR services
- People Business – best for offering specific HR support for startups
- Whitecollars – best for small businesses wanting to work with another startup
If your business needs HR help, then comparing top HR consulting firms is essential. Whether you need full HR cover, ongoing support, or project-based work, there are suppliers available to suit you.
The best way to choose between HR companies is to speak with them. We can help with that too, by putting you directly in touch with suppliers that can offer you quality services and products.
This saves you the time you’d otherwise have spent researching and contacting companies yourself. Instead, all you have to do is answer a few short questions about your business HR requirements.
HR consulting companies FAQs
In this section, we provide answers to some of the key questions you may have about HR consulting firms.
1. What do HR consulting firms do?
HR is an umbrella term for a wide range of functions, spanning recruitment, employment law, salary benchmarking, personnel administration, and more. HR companies in the UK are capable of meeting many of these day-to-day HR tasks, as well as providing HR management consulting, so that your business can utilise their HR expertise to manage your needs.
The main functions of HR consulting can be broken down into these distinct HR roles:
- Recruitment – bringing new staff into your business
- HR project management – handling issues that require a lot of resources which cannot be managed internally
- Employment law – ensuring that your business does not break any laws
- Employee development – helping your business to identify and improve staff
- Payroll – processing employee salaries, pensions, and bonuses
- Personnel admin – keeping track of staff details and information
- Disciplinary and grievances – managing staff complaints, misdemeanours and disciplinaries
- Health and safety – making sure that your business operates safely, with risks removed where possible
For more detailed information, see our page on small business HR outsourcing.
2. How do you choose the right HR consultant?
The above are examples of functions which can be carried out by HR consulting companies.
However, some companies are specialists in a particular field, such as employment law, whilst other HR firms will offer a more modular approach whereby you pick and choose several areas of HR that you need help with.
Not all HR management consulting firms will offer all services. Below are the key things you need to look at when selecting an HR consulting firm or individual:
- HR management consulting reputation – check references, contacts, and examples of previous similar work and results
- Industry specialisation – ensure that your chosen HR consultant has an understanding of, or particular focus on your industry
- Certification and qualification – the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) regulates the HR profession in the UK. Look for CIPD training and membership, and ideally advanced CIPD qualifications
- Connections – an HR consultancy can negotiate and leverage on your behalf while using their name and contacts, while your business can benefit from access to a wider network
- Best practice – HR is continuously changing (in particular employment law), so be sure to ask your shortlisted HR consulting companies how they keep on top of trends
- Integrity and privacy – consider if your selected HR company maintains high levels of integrity and privacy, and makes you feel reassured
- Personable – since you’ll often be working closely, ensure that they are easy to work with!
- Customised solutions – look for the availability of tailored solutions, clear plans, and defined timeframes
3. What’s the best HR company for a startup or small business?
With its extensive range of HR services and thousands of garnered reviews, we’d suggest Peninsula as the best HR company for startups and small businesses.
The company has grown considerably since starting out, and can now work with larger and international businesses as well. Plus, for business owners that are new to using a HR consultancy, Peninsula’s history and recognition – along with its 24-hour support options – make it a reassuring choice.
Another top pick would be Moorepay, especially for businesses that are in need of dedicated payroll assistance. Even though it offers other services, Moorepay has a long-standing history of supporting businesses in this particular aspect of HR.
However, be sure to consider whether Peninsula and Moorepay are right for your business and its unique requirements.
4. 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 either citrusHR or HR Solutions.
With its per employee, per month structure, citrusHR offers affordable and easy-to-understand pricing. While HR services cost £7 per employee, per month (plus a flat fee of £50), its software-only option is available for just £2.50 per employee per month.
HR Solutions is another budget-friendly HR firm, with services available as a package, as well as on a retained or ad hoc basis. With the latter, it’s possible to book services for £109.50 per hour.
Are you looking for more bespoke recommendations for HR consulting firms? If so, we can help you out – just let us know a couple of details about your business via the form below, and you can compare quotes for HR consultants.