On the up · 6 May 2016

TheHRHub: Giving small business owners an “HR director in your pocket”

The HR Hub 1
TheHRHub: The self-styled “HR director in your pocket”

Founded just over six months ago in October 2015, TheHRHub is an online service aiming to shake up the HR support available to the UK’s growing number of small businesses. Business Advice spoke to founder Claire Ward about her experience so far.

Spotting a gap in the market and a need for an “HR director in your pocket” amongst Britain’s smaller firms, Ward used her career’s experience – delivering HR programmes for companies of all shapes and sizes ­– as inspiration for TheHRHub. She wanted to offer time-poor company owners on-demand access to a team of HR specialists, advice and online support for little cost.

“I started TheHRHub to enable employers to get the most out of their teams – to give them that competitive advantage,” Ward explained. “The vision rested on the idea that HR should be more than just compliance, and it shouldn’t just be about box ticking.”

Fifteen years as an HR professional for companies of varying size in multiple sectors taught Ward that she was more at home working with SMEs, where she felt she could make more of a difference to the day-to-day running of the business. TheHRHub currently has almost 80 small businesses signed up to the service, with membership growing fast.

“What makes The HRHub unique is the community level approach it offers,” Ward went on to say. “People communicate socially online in every walk of life these days, so I wanted to introduce that concept to the HR space.

“Having worked with hundreds of companies, I know that access to knowledge and the ability to communicate openly is what makes successful HR, and the Hub enables member firms to gain a pragmatic, commercial view of what to do in any situation.”

Small business owners pay £95 per month to subscribe to TheHRHub, for which they receive round-the-clock HR support, access to an online community of experts and other retained on-site services. Membership is paid for on a month-to-month basis, with no “lock-in”.

“It’s a ‘try before you buy’ system where owners can use the Hub for as long as they like with no long-term commitment. Users gain access to HR software for 25 staff, and can ask questions anonymously, to find out how similar firms get ahead,” added Ward.

The HR Hub

There’s been few hiccups along the way so far for TheHRHub, and Ward has found working with software developers and technicians to be the biggest challenge. “I would love the technology to be simple and easy to create myself, but it changes so fast that you need technical support,” said Ward.

The future looks bright for TheHRHub as more and more businesses sign up and Ward looks for continued investment. The long-term aim is to create platform connecting thousands of small businesses, eventually in other countries. “I don’t view it as just a UK business,” added Ward. “HR is an internationally important thing small businesses need to get right, so there’s no limit to how far we can go, but for now it’s too soon to engage other countries.”

Ward cited her family as some of her biggest influencers, and advised would-be entrepreneurs to ensure they start building a support network, both professionally and personally, in order to create a successful new business. “Anyone starting out on their own needs support. I have fabulous family and friends that have helped me.

“What’s most important is flexibility,” she added. “Be prepared to adapt to what users want.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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