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by Vault Consulting Editors | March 10, 2009

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The best business strategies, the most up-to-date technologies, and most streamlined operations mean nothing if no one can put them into place. That's why HR consulting is on the upswing. Increasingly, companies have concluded that investing in their human capital pays off. Human resources consultants maximize the value of employees while placing the right people with the right skills in the right roles. This kind of HR consulting, also known as organizational development or change management, is one of the hottest consulting fields. (According to Kennedy Information, growth at HR consulting firms exceeded the piddling industry average of 2 percent overall in 2001-2002.) Clients hire HR consultancies as part of departmental or organizational restructuring, systems implementations, and ongoing initiatives and studies (e.g., diversity and work/life balance).

HR consultants also provide technical advice. This advice is largely based on number crunching, and those who excel at it are generally known as actuaries. Actuarial advice focuses on restructuring benefits packages and valuating compensation structures, among other technical assignments. Actuarial consultants must pass many certification exams throughout their careers to remain eligible to practice their trade.

Examples of typical human resources consulting engagements:

  • Bringing together the cultures of merged companies by developing or altering work cultures
  • "Managing relationships" to ensure focus on customers and open communication
  • Building "competencies" through better and more efficient training programs
  • Fostering employee creativity through "process innovation"
  • Counseling and processing laid-off employees and assisting them in finding new jobs
  • Creating or updating a new division's benefits package
  • Reviewing and revising a law firm's compensation structure

Leading human resources consulting firms include:

  • Hewitt Associates
  • Towers Perrin
  • Watson Wyatt Worldwide
  • Mercer HR Consulting

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Filed Under: Consulting

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