It's a great feeling knowing I'm making a difference to my clients' businesses. They really feel like I'm part of the team."
Tracey Hudson – South Warwickshire and Rugby

Case studies

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The start-up support was invaluable. "
Sara Abbott - North Birmingham With The HR Dept since 2006

Before starting her own business under The HR Dept, Sara had previously worked in Human Resources for 15 years, with much of this time spent in the utilities sector. She took a redundancy package in 2003 following a company merger and decided to take a year out to spend time with her youngest son before he started primary school. During this time she started picking up bits and pieces of consultancy work and discovered how much she enjoyed working for herself.

Huge need for HR support

This led to working for an HR company providing telephone advice from home, where she discovered just how much small businesses required effective HR support.

“I soon realised smaller companies need more extensive HR support than can be provided over the telephone,” explains Sara. “I remember one call where I had to talk a company director through the process of making 15 people redundant. It was difficult as he really needed ‘hand holding’ and the whole issue was incredibly emotional and complex. His staff were like his family.”

When Sara saw an HR Dept advertisement, she immediately realised this was the perfect opportunity for her to carry on working flexibly, whilst providing a practical service that was so badly needed by small firms.

Natural progression

“I had already been working independently – but for someone else,” explains Sara. “The structure and product offering of The HR Dept really appealed to me and it felt like a natural progression. I knew I had the technical knowledge and all the right HR skills, but I didn’t necessarily know how to go out and find work.

I couldn’t just go up to someone on the street and ask if they needed HR support! That’s why The HR Dept was perfect for me. I received heaps of advice on finding leads and getting business – who I needed to meet and what I should say. The start-up support was invaluable.”

Work/life balance

With three children, work/life balance is very important to Sara. “I really appreciate the freedom and flexibility of working with The HR Dept. The work/life balance is tremendous,” she says. “I can catch up on emails in the evenings and at weekends, leaving me free to collect the children from school every day and I never have to miss a school play because of work.”

Quality Service

Sara is passionate about providing a quality service to her clients and understands the importance of building strong relationships with them and becoming an extended member of their teams. She has received many glowing testimonials from the companies she has worked with, including the following comments from Mediation Works:

“Over the last two years we have benefited enormously from Sara’s input and she has become an integral part of the management team, frequently attending management meetings at our request. On one occasion recently Sara was chosen to be part of a team presenting a tender for a significant contract.”

“One of the biggest benefits of working with Sara is that she shares her knowledge and understanding of HR issues in a way that helps us all to learn and improve our performance. Being part of The HR Dept means that advice is available at all times throughout the year and our experience is that all of our enquiries have been dealt with promptly and the standard of advice has been consistent.”

Another testimonial from Staying Cool talks about how The HR Dept is different from a call centre:

“We’ve been using Sara’s services for the past year or so and have been wondering why we didn’t sign up sooner. I was originally very sceptical about HR phone services because they tend to be risk averse and you never speak to the same person twice. I always deal with Sara, we meet up when we need to, and she always offers pragmatic, sound advice. As a small business operator herself, Sara knows the time and financial pressures we are under and doesn’t insist we do things just for the sake of it. In short, Sara is a really experienced HR professional, who is always available when you need her and is also great fun and very easy to work with. I would heartily recommend her.”


Support network

Sara also values the support provided by other licensees around the country. “It’s such a benefit being part of a friendly and supportive network of HR professionals – even if you haven’t dealt with a particular situation before, someone else will have and will help you through.”


For other HR professionals who may be considering joining The HR Dept, Sara has these words of advice: “If you’re thinking about moving away from corporate HR, then I’d definitely recommend you give it a go. If you have strong HR skills and the thought of being your own boss appeals to you, then The HR Dept is for you. The company offers extensive support in starting up your business, particularly around sales and marketing, so you can focus on your services to clients and building a business.”

Twelve years on, Sara would still give the same advice to other HR professionals – “I still haven’t looked back and when my initial licence came up for renewal, I did not have to think twice before renewing. The HR Dept has grown in all areas and we know what works and what does not for the small business sector. Our support team is second to none, we have an extensive library of documents and someone always happy to talk through a difficult one with you. I enjoy working with fellow licensees and still relish both being in charge of my own destiny and that work/life balance.”

Business development

As her children have grown older, the business has grown too and Sara decided to expand in 2012. She now employs two other HR professionals and an HR administrator to work with the growing client base and their diverse HR needs. The team works across the full range of HR issues from disciplinary and grievance cases through to company values and culture, operating as HR Managers sensitive to the needs of each particular client.