Recruiting HR professionals in times of organisational change

Julia Nickless

By Julia Nickless

21 Feb 2019

There are many reasons an organisation may undertake transformational change or a restructure. It may be that the organisation is merging with another, or evolving its service offering to keep pace with demand. Economic and political factors can also play a part; for instance, Brexit may cause an organisation to consolidate sites or open new entities in Europe. Even a desire to improve diversity or shift entrenched attitudes can spark a change. Whatever the change, and for whatever reason it’s done, the burning question for HR is: do you have the capacity or the skillset to deliver that change?


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In this article, we’ll investigate why a restructure could lead to the need for recruitment in HR and how HR recruitment agencies can support where needed.

Why you may need to recruit an HR professional during a restructure

The decision to recruit either permanent or interim HR roles during a period of organisational change such as restructure comes down to two things: capacity and skills. The first of those is simple to explain: the restructuring process is usually long and complex. With entities potentially merging, departments closing, a relocation being considered or an office closure on the horizon, an internal HR team may well find they lack the experience, or even the capacity, to cope.

Equally, there are specialist skills needed during restructures; skills that your team may not have currently. The HR department will need to be involved in negotiating with staff representatives, organising TUPE processes, carrying out legally robust consultations, and administering pension scheme changes – among other things. Finding time to build your HR team’s skills in these areas alongside "business as usual" activities is likely impossible.

And of course, that’s just for organisations that have an internal HR function; those that don’t will of course find these challenges magnified further.

Recruiting someone with the right skills, who can join the team and hit the ground running, is the obvious solution in this scenario. Adding capacity and capability to your HR function enables the existing HR team to concentrate on embedding the new culture, goals and structure in the organisation. The result is that the restructure is far more likely to be successful.

Another reason for asking HR recruitment agencies to source an HR professional may be that the HR team itself needs replacing. Perhaps a senior member of the team no longer sees a role for themselves after the restructure, and this could be the ideal time to bring in a new HR manager to shape the department effectively under the new structure.

What are your options?

Simply put, there are three main options: permanent hires, interim HR roles, or external HR services & consultancy. Deciding which one is right for your organisation will involve balancing capacity, skillset and economic factors.

A permanent hire could come in at any level and work with you, during and beyond the restructure. They could fill a gap left by an exiting team member, or fill a new position that has been identified by the restructure – potentially adding skills to your HR function that were previously missing. A permanent hire won’t be right for everyone, though – if you’re consolidating teams or downsizing, it may be hard to justify the expense of permanent hire, for example.

If that’s the case, you could consider recruiting for an interim HR role. You’ll get the expertise and experience of an HR professional, without the cost of a permanent hire; perfect if there’s a need for additional support only during the restructure itself. The main drawback of an interim (and a permanent) HR professional is one of scope. Given the complexity of the restructuring process, it’s unlikely that one individual will be able to give you the best support that your organisation could have. This is where external HR services can add value.

How an HR Service can support an organisation through the restructuring process

During a restructure there are several key roles that may be needed within the HR team. For example; it could be that employees need new skills, so the organisation may need to hire either a learning & development manager, to put in to place new development systems, or a recruitment manager who can hire in the right people to upskill a department. Alternatively, an HR business partner may be needed to align new objectives across the restructured teams once the restructure is complete. Employee relations specialists may be needed to help smooth out any unrest caused by the restructure.

The variety of roles needed is a challenge, but so is the scale of your need. There may be a crucial week where you need a high level of support – and others where you don’t.

External consultancies which offer HR and recruitment services can help organisations through these disruptive times. If brought in early on during a restructure a consultancy can assess exactly what you need to make it go smoothly, giving impartial advice on the skills required and the scale of what’s needed. And because they’re plugged in to the heart of the HR community, a good HR services consultancy will come with a strong and ever-growing network of the best HR professionals in the industry. That pool of talent means that your organisation gets the best possible person for the role – or the best team if there are times when you need more than one individual.

This is the main benefit of working with an HR consultancy as opposed to a basic HR recruitment agency. Instead of providing just one individual, an HR consultancy like Connor will enable you to scale your HR team up and down as need requires. If you need 10 people in one week, and two the next, that’s fine. So even through the busiest moments of a restructuring process, you know your team can focus on adding maximum value rather than fire-fighting emergencies as they crop up.

At Connor we specialise in supporting organisations through transformational change and helping them build capacity and capability, both during the transformation and for the long term afterwards. So please feel free to call us on +44 (0)1491 414 010 or contact us for a confidential, no-obligation discussion whether you’re after our HR recruitment services or HR consultancy.



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