HR Standalone role

Hi everyone,

Are there any standalone HR Managers out there who can tell me the pro's/con's of being standalone?

I have been offered a standalone role, I have always worked as part of a team so am looking to weigh up the pro's/con's before making a decision.


  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    26 Feb, 2018 16:16

    Hi Danielle... here's a well-visited thread that is worth your while reading!

    Standalone HR, how do you cope?

    You always have the Community here to turn too.

  • Hi Danielle

    I took on my first stand alone role in October. I must admit it was quite a daunting thought at first as I had always worked with brilliant people who I could turn to for advice. I also made the step up from HR Administrator to HR Advisor.

    Although it's still early days, I am really enjoying it. Every day I get to test my knowledge and I am learning so much from it. There is the doubt for me that sometimes I am doing something wrong - but I am hoping that will disappear as I get more confident (and read more of these discussions!).
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    27 Feb, 2018 10:24

    In reply to Nicola:

    Nicola Fowler said:

    "Although it's still early days, I am really enjoying it. Every day I get to test my knowledge and I am learning so much from it. There is the doubt for me that sometimes I am doing something wrong - but I am hoping that will disappear as I get more confident (and read more of these discussions!)."

    Love your attitude towards your role, Nicola :)

  • Hi Danielle,

    I'm in a standalone role. I see the pros and cons as follows:

    I get to set the HR agenda. I'm lucky that my MD is happy to be lead by me.
    You learn to be a true generalist.
    You truly feel valued by the business

    It can be lonely. I like my job, but really miss working as part of a supportive team.
    I look after 200 staff and end up getting bogged down in admin rather than be able to do the more 'juicy' HR stuff. I'm already about 2 months behind my People Plan for 2018 as I'm tied up doing recruitment and pay reviews.
    If your Manager isn't supportive I could imagine it being particular tough. I previously worked in a standalone role with a manager who thought they knew about employment law, but didn't, which was particularly tough.

    I hope that helps! I imagine a lot depends on the company.
  • Well done on being offered your role. I am a standalone manager and have been in post since October 2016, the company that I work for didn't previously have a HR Department so I am very busy. I enjoy most days as every day is different and challenging. You learn quickly and you are always learning, if you enjoy a challenge it is a great role.
    You do question your self a lot that you are making the right decisions but there is so much support available. I agree some days can be lonely, but on days like today - interviews - your feet do not touch the ground.
    I agree it can be admin heavy , I am still working on the answer to that!
  • In reply to Laura Ann:

    This is very similar to my own experience, though I have never worked in an HR team so I don't know what I'm missing out on there.
  • My 1st HR position was the sole HR in a company employing 500... and eventually 1,000 staff.

    You learn loads more. Sink or swim.
    a) I wasn't carrying too much HR past experience - and thus, "this is the way you do it" around with me.
    b) I was free to do what I wanted in line with what the company wanted to happen.
    c) I'd had several years in the oil/construction/offshore industry. So time wasters, hangers on, the long term sick, micky takers, malingerers, the idol and those that got disciplined more than once didn't last more than my few months in post.

    a) No one to turn too
    b) Decision making took longer (for me!)
    e) I often didn't know whether I was doing things the 'right' way.
    f) I sometimes thought I was an imposter (syndrome)

    Although stressful at times I don't regret it for a moment.

  • In reply to Laura Ann:

    Another Pro is increasing your general business knowledge and understanding. This again probably depends on the business, however i get to hear everything that goes on and have a much better understanding of sales, engineering, H&S, technical etc than i did in my previous role in a larger organisation.
  • Hi Danielle

    Can second the excellent points made by colleagues. Like David, I got thrown in at the deep end and (mostly) swam, but inevitably made mistakes. My manager told me to go ahead and trust my own judgment, he'd back me to the hilt unless I made the same mistake twice!

    So in a company with a culture of treating mistakes as learning tools, being a standalone is an excellent opportunity, and can be fun, exhilarating and very satisfying.

    In a company with a blame culture, it can be a nightmare. I've worked in both, the latter experience made me desperate to join a team (which is why I now spend time on here which I had not been allowed to do previously :) ...) I also struggled with Imposter syndrome for a long while.

    One thing maybe not mentioned is that after a few years it does become quite hard to measure yourself against your peers: you have no idea how well your approach, knowledge, way of doing things etc stack up "in the real world" outside your organisation. I made things up as I went along and then went and joined an HR team, where I found (thankfully) that the way they organised things was not so very different to how I would have done it myself. I learned a bit more and went back to being a standalone.
  • Hi Danielle,
    I had a standalone role and it was a good experience; value-added! Please make sure you have all the support you needed from the Management, otherwise yes, you will sink with your job alone, which mostly would be on admin work.

    Tips - manage your time effectively, prioritize your work smartly, and stay positive. Time management is very important. Be selfish sometimes so you can get your work done. Engaged with employees are good (you will get walk-in employees to share their concerns or issues) but sometimes it drags your work. So, be selfish and watch your time. Work smartly also include hiring an intern to help you with the admin-related.

    Don't look on the con's too much. Stay positive as this is your learning curve to be where you want to be in the next 5 or 10 years.

    Good luck!

  • I'm in a stand alone role. All other central support services e.g. finance, IT , comms have a team. Sometimes I'm slightly jealous that they have like minded colleagues to discuss their work with and team meetings to debate and talk about strategy. It can be tough for this reason. It does depend on your company's view of HR and also the view of your MD.
  • Hi Danielle,

    I made the move from HR Admin in a team of 5 to standalone HR Officer/Advisor. For me the it all depends on the company. My first standalone role I left after only 3 months as the company just wasn't the right fit for me, I felt unsupported, found it difficult to settle into and very lonely. The role I moved into following this is also standalone however the experience joining couldn't have been more different and I have now been there for 6 months and am feeling very much like part of the furniture.

    They hadn't had onsite HR previously and everyone was really pleased to have someone onsite and were very warm and welcoming. The management team are supportive and try their best to keep me in the loop as to what is going on. Although I have my own office it is based just off the open plan office and has windows looking into the open plan, the other teams in the open plan are very friendly and between the 6 of us on that floor we're a small team made up of different teams and roles, so no more lonely feeling. Even though I cannot talk to them about what's going on in my role at times, they look out for me and make sure I'm ok if I'm having a bad day etc.

    My advice would be do your research, check out the company more, understand the culture there, does management seem supportive etc. If possible see if you can meet some of the people in the teams around you and check out your working environment. Some companies offer the chance to come in for a trial day. If this is an option you might find it beneficial as it may give you a chance to meet more than just the people who interviewed you.

    Standalone can be a great learning opportunity and chance to get involved in many different areas of HR and will certainly keep you busy, but I believe it's important to make sure you pick the right company as this makes all the difference.
  • Hi Danielle,
    I am a (standalone) HR Manager and have been in post for 5 years. I love it! As a member of the CIPD I rely heavily on them for support and if in doubt, I ring the legal team to ensure I am on track. I am now on the Senior Management Team, due to exposure to senior leaders from the start (something you don't always get in a larger organisation, where you are part of a bigger team). I get to push the 'people agenda' at strategic level without having to go through layers of management. Last year we won the Wiltshire Business Award for Customer and Staff Care. This may be a great opportunity for you. Good Luck!
  • Pros: HR is entirely your responsibility.

    Cons: HR is entirely your responsibility.

    If you're on the fence about the role, the main thing you should ask yourself is how much you expect the company's leadership to support you in setting up a good direction of travel for the HR. Are you the first person in HR in this company or replacing someone else?

    If you're the first person, you need to be realistic about what they expect from you. It's more likely that what they are looking for is someone to put the paperwork in order than someone who is going to introduce innovative and cutting-edge people practice.

    If you're replacing someone else, you should find out as much as you can about why they left. Were they liked and respected? Or were they shoved out of the door with extreme prejudice and, if so, why?