It's wonderful to see my dream of a cooperative network of HR professionals come true and I'm very proud that we're now the market leading HR franchise."
Sue Tumelty – Founder and Executive Director

Author Archive

Spotlight on Amanda Strange

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Amanda Strange is the new licensee of The HR Dept Cheltenham and Stroud. We caught up with her to find out how she got into HR, share some of her experiences and tell us how she’s getting on in her first few weeks at The HR Dept.

Have you always worked in HR?

When I left school at 17, I went to work for the Magistrates’ Courts in an admin role. I stayed there for 17 years. For most of that time I was the PA to the Justices’ Clerk. Back then we didn’t have an ‘HR’ department as such. But I was responsible for keeping the personnel files and also recruiting magistrates and organising training. You could say I’d started working in HR but not realised it at that point!

What inspired you to go “full HR”?

After the courts I decided to leave for a completely different sector – a large commercial outsourcing company. I joined as the PA to the MD and as HR administrator. There was a regional HR manager in place. I saw what she was doing and thought I would like to do that.

I liked the idea of driving around to different client sites, supporting managers with issues and helping them to solve their people problems. I liked the thought of being the “expert”. An opportunity arose for me to take on a regional role and the company invested in my development and supported me with gaining my CIPD qualification.

It was the best thing I could have done in terms of changing my career direction. It was challenging as it was a fast-paced business. I was learning on the go, but the type of business it was gave me a wide variety of issues to deal with. This was great for my learning and general experience.

How have you found being a licensee for The HR Dept so far?

At the time of writing I’ve almost completed my second month. So far I’m really enjoying it. I feel like I’m starting to become part of the SME community in my territory and the support I’ve had from the central team has been amazing. I’m looking forward to signing up my first client!

Giving you the support and tools to succeed

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The HR Dept business model is tried and tested with 65 HR professionals who have all successfully set up their own HR Dept businesses in their local area.

You have the HR expertise to provide solutions to local SMEs, but do you have the business, finance and marketing knowledge to make it a success?

The HR Dept gives you the training and support you need in those areas that might not come so naturally to you. Alongside our specially selected expert partners, The HR Dept central office team ensures Licensees have the tools they need to allow their businesses to reach their potential, none of which you’d have by going it alone;

  • 4 weeks’ holiday cover every year – so you won’t have to give up your holidays!
  • comprehensive sales and marketing training
  • business coaching
  • IT and technical support
  • complete business setup and accountancy advice
  • self-service marketing materials and website

and much more. Find out more about our support here. 

If you want to discover more about starting your own business with The HR Dept and becoming part of the largest collaborative network of HR Professionals we’d love to hear from you.

Why SMEs should outsource HR

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The CIPD’s head of public policy, Ben Willmott, has recently discussed the significance of HR insisting that ‘many small business owners failed to recognise the challenges they faced as people management issues that could be corrected through HR’. It therefore raises the questions of why SMEs battle with the unknown territory of HR when they could easily outsource it?

Willmott maintains that small businesses have a people management “blind spot”, often overlooking how stronger HR practice could support their growth  and ‘if you help them get their house in order around the basics, that provides a foundation for growth’. To read this article in full click here

As an HR Dept business owner you could offer practical support at an affordable cost, whilst allowing the business owner to focus on the areas they know best.

By providing HR solutions to SMEs you become a trusted extension of their team and integral to the running of their business. Using your expertise to provide HR solutions will allow SMEs to take their business even further.

Spotlight on Niamh Kelly

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A huge welcome to Niamh (pronounced “Neave” and meaning “radiance”) into our network. Niamh has opened The HR Dept Shropshire and will be helping local businesses there to prevent people problems. Niamh has 25 years’ high-level HR experience in education, healthcare the corporate life. Lets find out a little more about her…

What kind of silly stuff have you been asked during your HR career?

“This ‘mandatory training’ – do you mean we have to go?”.  This was in relation to legal compliance training required for the company I was then working for to retain its licence.  A reminder that no matter how many times you think you have communicated something, there is always someone who feels your message could have been clearer!

What has been your biggest challenge since working in HR?

On three occasions I’ve had to discuss “end of life” with employees, and help them plan for their families’ wellbeing after they were gone. It wasn’t something I ever expected to have to do when working in HR. I had always assumed that my role would stop when I left work each day.

It brought home to me the importance of remembering that the “resource” in human resources is the person. And that my role was to ensure that we supported our people to the best of our ability.  I’ve always tried to think of that when dealing with difficult processes such as redundancy or dismissal.

How have you found being a licensee for The HR Dept so far?

Exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time!  It’s different from working in large organisations. There you are both constrained and supported by the myriad of policies and procedures.  Now, it’s very much “thinking on your feet” and remembering all the reasons why you went into HR in the first place – to make a difference!

If you weren’t working in HR what would you love to be doing?

I’ve always wanted to do archaeology – I even started an online foundation course!  But now I fulfill my love of history by finding out more about family trees – both mine and my parents-in-law. And I’ve found a few skeletons, including a murder and a link to Jack the Ripper (not on my tree I hasten to add!).

SMEs urged to ‘think outside the box’ in talent search

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Our Licensee Sara Abbott, from the HR Dept North Birmingham, commented to Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce on attracting talent for an SME:

SMEs must think outside the box when it comes to attracting the right talent, according to a HR expert.

Sara Abbott (pictured), from the HR Dept North Birmingham, says many smaller companies can offer greater flexibility and career progression than corporate juggernauts.

And she believes these benefits can be of huge benefit when it comes to recruiting.

It comes after an SME confidence-tracking survey from Bibby Financial Services (BFS) revealed that the nation’s small and medium-sized businesses face a struggle to find workers with the right skills.

Sara said: “It’s daunting for SME businesses when they see the fabulous campus offices of Silicon Valley firms, the luxurious free breakfasts laid-on by flourishing digital agencies and the bonuses that financial services companies can offer.

“These eye-catching benefits may seem hard to beat. But all is not lost. There are strings to the SME bow that can help them compete for great employees.”

“Many SMEs are able to offer more flexibility than large corporates. In a small firm you often get the opportunity to turn your hand to the wider aspects of a role.

“This could be an attractive point to emphasise, as it shows a clear route to progression. It’s doubly good for the business because if you can get a person with the desire and capability to grow themselves, then the business will probably grow around them.

“A winning formula all round would see the business communicating well, so that the person knows they are making a difference and feels encouraged to continue.”

Sara says more and more SMES are starting to realise the benefit of investment in training to plug skills gaps and retain staff.

She added: “Training is another attractive benefit to offer – not just for recruitment, but for retention too.

“Got a skills gap? Instead of trying to hire the ready-made solution, train someone in your team to develop into the role.

“As well as plugging your skills gap, this fosters staff loyalty and goodwill.”

To read the original article go to

Providing a personal and local approach to help Fingal’s SMEs

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HR professional Daniela Kocis Fitzgerald is embarking on an exciting challenge as she sets up her own business offering advice and support to SMEs in Fingal.

Based in Clonee, Mrs Kocis Fitzgerald will serve businesses in Malahide, Sutton, Portmarnock, Howth, Rush, Skerries, Donabate, Swords and Dublin Airport through her new company The HR Dept Fingal.

Originally from Romania, she has lived in Ireland for eight years and is married with two children.

An experienced employment law consultant and HR expert, with a CIPD diploma in HR management, she said her new role was aimed at achieving greater freedom and flexibility.

“I wanted to try and get the best of both worlds,” she said. “I wanted some freedom in my life and a better work life balance.

“Having children has definitely changed my view on life – if I stayed working in the corporate world I’d never have been around to see them grow up.

“Running my own business enables me to still do what I love, along with the flexibility and freedom of being self-employed.

“There are quite a few SMEs in the business parks around Fingal and in the seaside towns at the edge of the Irish Sea.

“My approach is going to be very much personal and local, so it’s going to be a real change from the corporate world I was in before.”

Daniela said her broad experience stood her in good stead to face the variety of personnel issues her clients were likely to face.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the companies and businesses in the area and it’s a challenge I’m excited to take on,” she said.
“There are a lot of personnel issues for SMEs to be thinking about at the moment, with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) coming in May and the reviews on equality and the gender pay gap.

“Companies need to be aware of likely legislation and prepare for it in advance – the landscape is changing and those businesses which aren’t up to speed are going to suffer.

“HR professionals are available for advice so that, rather than having an additional headache to worry about, business owners can pass responsibility for the people issues over to us.

“We allow you to look after your business and take care of your people problems.”

Daniela becomes the third franchise holder to set up The HR Dept in Ireland, with other licensees already operating in Cavan, Monaghan and Louth as well as South Dublin and County Kildare.

HR Dept in the Elite Franchise Top 100

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We are delighted to announce that we have made the top 50 in the Elite Franchise Top 100. Elite Franchise 100 recognises the sector’s brightest businesses and ranks them according to a broad range of criteria from their financial performance and heritage in the industry to their contribution to the community and the way they embrace innovation.

Click here to find out more about the Elite Franchise 100!

Omar Rashid launches The HR Dept North East and South West Birmingham

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An ambitious young HR professional with over a decade of corporate experience has set up his own business offering outsourced advice and support to SMEs in two parts of Birmingham.

Through his new company The HR Dept North East and South West Birmingham, Omar Rashid will work from premises in Stratford Road to provide HR services to businesses in his territories.

He will be looking for clients in the business communities in a variety of areas including the Harborne, Selly Oak, Bournville, Nechells, Tyseley and Sparkbrook.

Nor does Mr Rashid, aged 34, plan to stop at two parts of the city. His plan is to take on staff within a year to 18 months, before eventually expanding the business further.

For now though, Mr Rashid is excited about the prospects and the challenges of launching his own company, having become disillusioned with the bureaucracy of corporate life.

He said: “I’ve thought long and hard about this and I’m really excited by the prospects. I’ve got a young family, which gives me the drive, energy and ambition to make this company a real success.

“I’ve lived in or near Birmingham all my life and I know there’s a really strong SME community in my territories of operation. For example in Harborne and the Longbridge Technology Park – these are places I’m keen to get to know better and find those businesses who need help to grow.”

Born and bred in Birmingham, Mr Rashid studied a Business Management degree at Coventry University and after taking a HR module in the final year followed up with completing his masters in Human Resource Management.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said, “and it’s been a passion of mine ever since. However, having spent a decade working with corporates and in the public sector I had this impression that small businesses don’t need HR – that they could just get rid of someone if they needed to.

“Since I found out about The HR Dept, though, my eyes have been opened. HR is as important for SMEs as it is for big businesses and part of my mission is to point that out to businesses, help them protect themselves and add value at the same time.

“I’m still as passionate about HR as I was since I did that first module at university. It’s great to be able to bring this new offering to Birmingham’s SME community.”

Mr Rashid said that small businesses are facing all kinds of challenges in the current business climate, with legislation changing all the time and new demands on business owners to manage their people properly.

“Now that employment tribunal fees have been scrapped,” he said, “it gives more power to employees ensure they are treated properly.

“So if companies are making a mess of redundancies or dismissals, they are at a growing risk of being taken to tribunal. I can help make sure these processes are done in a correct legal manner.

“The changes in tribunal fees, new measures like GDPR and shared parental leave, alongside the uncertainty posed by Brexit, makes the role of an HR professionals even more relevant and important.

“The key point about outsourcing is to let the HR expert concentrate on people issues, leaving business owners free to do what they do best, which is running and hopefully growing their business.”


Territories are being reserved fast!

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Licensees with The HR Dept need a free territory within which to operate. Using the territory system, our Licensees unlike many other franchises don’t compete with one another. Instead, each supports and even partners with their neighbours in growing their business.

If you want to become a Licensee therefore, it goes without saying that you’ll need a free territory! One that’s exclusive to you, that only you can market too. Already in the New Year we’ve seen huge demand from HR Professionals wishing to reserve their own in anticipation of joining The HR Dept. Already East Cotswolds, Fingal in Ireland, and Birmingham SE and NW territories have been reserved by HR professionals due to start in the next couple of months!

If you’re thinking about starting up your own business with The HR Dept, it’s worth checking which territories are free where you are. Felicity Down, our Recruitment Manager is on hand to discuss the options available to you, so why not drop her an email or give her a ring 

Join An Award Winning Franchise

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As a HR Dept business owner you too can become an award-winning franchisee.

Our franchisees over the last year have been nominated as finalists for various local and national awards, including nominations for their local Chamber of Commerce. For HR Dept franchisees their willingness to go above and beyond with their work to provide HR support to SMEs is certainly recognised.

We are extremely proud of our franchisees. So why not take the plunge and come to a Discovery Day to find out more about joining our award-winning network.