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Moving to a standalone HR role from a big corporate HR team...

Hi All!

Just wondering whether anyone has experienced going from a corporate company with a big HR team to a stand alone HR role incorporating everything HR, Recruitment and L&D. Whether there is anything to consider/weigh up and any challenges you've faced making the jump?

Thank you

3838 views
  • I've done this... I have to say it does take a bit of getting used to. Firstly there isn't anyone to bounce you thought process off so I've found myself on here more than ever before just to get that second opinion or input.

    The second up and down side is that generally things are less structured, you get the blessing on not being tied into a very tight very process driven system and you get to make many more decisions however sometimes those decisions are just low level and a little frustrating. Managers tend to come to you with every single questions rather than the process or a colleague resolving some of them.

    I love both environments for different reasons so just give it a go.
  • I haven't come from a large corp company but smaller HR teams and now standalone with some support from head office in Norway. These forums are a lifesaver to bounce ideas and re-set my thoughts sometimes when I get a bit lost in the processes and situations.
  • Hi Charlie

    I have made this transition and I echo Alun's comment on losing your internal peer network. I went from a big group where we had about 50 of us at our annual internal HR conference, and that was without the administrators and assistants, to an SME where there was an administrator and an advisor in place, but both with very little experience and not able to act as a "critical friend". You will need to build your own network and these forums are an invaluable resource. It isn't just the ability to post your own issues and get advice: just a few minutes a day scanning what has been posted and what other people have responded is developmental.

    There will be times when your organisation looks to you to get them out of a hole or find a way forward and sometimes you will need broad shoulders. Yes, there are some situations where there is a right way to handle them and it's set out in law or an Acas code. But there are many more occasions when there is no one right way, it is the best fit for your organisation, or even the least bad of a set of bad choices. Then you have to be brave and do your best and, once again, these forums are invaluable as a sense check or for moral support.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    28 Jan, 2020 09:15

    In reply to Alun Stowell:

    Alun Stowell said:
    Firstly there isn't anyone to bounce you thought process off so I've found myself on here more than ever before just to get that second opinion or input.

    That's exactly what we're here for... and is in fact one of the things members continually tell us they find of huge value.

    There are a few outstanding threads that cover some of this ground... including this discussion... and the thread I flag in my opening post.

  • Hi Alun,

    I've done this a few times. It is hard working with no peer network; there's no one to bounce ideas off, to sense check, or to let off steam with when you've heard something particularly irksome! You also can't be precious: you might end up involved in everything and sometimes that can be time consuming and frustrating when you could be doing bigger 'value add' pieces but it's actually the day to day process bits that need sorting first. I've found having a network of old colleagues and friends around really helpful sometimes and I've found this community really helpful in making sure my own knowledge is sound when I've not got others around to learn from.

    Personally, it suits me a lot better; I'm not a fan of an awful lot of process and policy which I find prevalent in big corporate organisations and I find the flexibility, variety of work, speed of decision making and opportunity to make your own mark is incredibly interesting and rewarding.
  • Hi Charlie,

    I've done this. I was made redundant from a large supermarket chain with a relatively big HR department and now work as a standalone for a family run pharmacy chain.

    The major thing I missed was the advice and second opinions I could get from my team, but then I found this community and it has been a lifesaver! Even when I feel like I'm asking stupid questions, I get amazingly helpful responses.

    I also like that I get to deal with everything, rather than specialising in a specific area.

    I guess a downside would be that I can't really develop anymore, so I would need to leave this company if I wanted to progress my career. But overall I don't think I would want to go back to a massive corporate company now, I feel more valued and appreciated here than I have ever done in my previous roles.
  • Hi Charlie 

    I've done this! Last year I joined a small Charity as their stand alone HR Manager. Initially I missed the large HR team, but I love my stand alone role now.

    In my organisation we have a Trustee with HR experience and I approach her for help with complex ER cases, compliance and or advice on anything else that I want a second opinion, so if you have someone at Board level, engage them. 

    Secondly, I network with HR professionals from all sectors & have often approached them for help and advice. CIPD Community is a good place to start.

    Be ready to work autonomously, carry out research, continue your CPD and informal ways of working; but it's worth it and you will learn a lot in a short space of time. 

    Wish you all the best!

  • Hi Charlie
    I also did exactly this 12 years ago and it was the best thing I've done from a personal development point of view. However, I would echo others' observations that I may now have to consider leaving my company as there are no opportunities for further development or progression.
    One other thing... I would only want a stand alone role if that role were recognised as a member of the SLT of that organisation; I am lucky that I share an office with the MD so am involved in virtually every aspect of the business, and HR is at the fore of most of the decisions the organisation makes. This makes me feel valued and that I add value.
    And finally, I have used this forum a few times when I really wasn't sure and needed sound technical advice and it works, every time!
  • Hi Charlie,
    I'm facing the same situation and my biggest challenge is not having anyone to share my thoughts and have a second opinion or input. To overcome this problem I'm relying on my director (owner of the company), CIPD help line, and ACAS help line. It helps a lot but in the end of the day, we have to make the decision!
    It's hard but I'm enjoying a lot!
  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Hi Elizabeth (and Charlie)
    Your second paragraph especially resonated with me as it describes my own HR stand-alone role perfectly. "Be brave and do your best" is my new mantra!
  • Hi Charlie,

    I did this 6 years ago and haven't looked back since.

    Within larger corporations you tend to be pigeonholed, or just act as a conduit between the business and the HR Dept. Now you'll get to own every aspect! And this is the bit I love the most, the variety and breadth of the work, you'll get your fingers in all the HR pies. You'll be able to shape the HR strategy as you see best, make decisions that have real tangible impacts and become an integral part of the business.

    I always found the Corp. HR world a bit insular whereas now you'll be in the midst of everyone and it won't be long before you'll be able to identify some like-minded individuals within the business who will want to support and work with you to help deliver your ideas.

    It's busy and it can be frustrating at times but what job isn't. Make sure you continue to build up your network through forums like this, seminars, LinkedIn etc., and as you can see here, there are always people ready to help.

    This will be the best move you've made, you won't regret it!
  • I started my HR career in a standalone HR generalist position.
    It's definitely challenging. Having no one to vent to about draining issues is the toughest part.
    The other is bouncing ideas around. This is tricky on your own, I turned in to a bit of a loon.
    I now use this community to bounce ideas off and learn from.

    If you're in a standalone position you have to be a strong self motivator in order to keep an eye on the HR realm for new ideas and keep up to date.
    Usually in a team new ideas can come from anyone but when you're working on your own you have to be the one out there looking for ways to improve, and you have to do this alongside all the other administrative and manager level tasks.

    I often wonder if I should switch to a company with a bigger HR team now for a more rounded HR experience, but I really appreciate the freedom to mould HR processes and drive ideas forward.

    I think it's great for personal development and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    30 Jan, 2020 10:37

    Hope these generous responses have been helpful, Charlie.

    Have you made this move... or are you considering it?
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Thank you everyone for your responses - so helpful!! What an awesome community.

    I am considering taking the leap and very thankful for everyones advise to help me weigh up whether its right for me.

  • In reply to Charlie:

    I moved from and admin role (with level 5) wanting that next step (thinking it would be advisor level) and managed to secure a standalone HR Associate role about 18 months ago now. Mainly brought on board to ensure that they're being compliant and to ensure correct processes were followed etc and also to provide support if any discipline/grievance/performance issues were raised.

    Thought it was ideal for my next step and to honest it was and still is (I just need to believe in myself more).

    I have been involved in so much more, everything from basic admin, HR audit, reviewing and introducing policies, small redundancy project, implementing a new HR system project, new appraisal process, recruitment and now salary bench-marking with a possibility of job evaluation with loads of other bits in-between. I love that it is so varied but I sometimes feel out of my depth and question if I put too much on myself coming from 20 years in Admin, but I do have access to HR Advice, Guidance & Template tools which helps.

    I take each day as it comes, however the more strategic they need to be the more I panic as this is out of my comfort zone (although when I talk about it with my other half he says I talk the talk where needed I just need to be more confident with management if I need to think more strategically so who knows lol)

    I do find it lonely sometime, but groups like this helps so much :-)