HR legislation is daunting for employers, and many managers are fearful of employment law. And the complexity of the procedures and are concerned about potential costs and compensation claims. We can give managers more confidence by coaching them or even role-playing a situation.

This work is not really outsourcing as much as it is training. Everything in the workplace today is so formalized, and managers are scared of talking to their staff, of asking them how they feel.

Such behaviour is not good for an organization, You can’t outsource disciplinary processes – they have to be handled by line managers. A line manager’s job is to make sure the team is performing, and any issue is in the first instance for the line manager to deal with. Some parts of HR are very difficult to outsource, and discipline is one. Dealing with a problem at work is all about trust, and it’s up to the organization to decide how to deal with the problem.

Of course, companies can outsource their entire HR function, and many small or medium-sized firms have no choice but to do so. But the splitting of HR into its many functions can lead to HR problems. Get your recruitment outsourcing wrong, for example, and you’re more likely to need the services of a mediator or a lawyer later.

You have to ask the question - ”why you are outsourcing? What is the business reason? There’s no reason why outsourcing shouldn’t help in all HR functions, but you have to understand what you want and articulate it.”

Cost, such a common reason for outsourcing other areas of HR, is rarely the focus when it comes to dealing with staff problems. However, technology could be. A well-built IT system that ensures a proper audit trail could be extremely valuable if a case escalates. A lack of skills is a good reason to turn to outsourcers, but even here it pays to think long and hard about who is doing what: there still needs to be a strong strategic element in the firm's thinking.

Using Outsourcers can be useful in specific cases. If, for example, there is a grievance against a member of the HR team, the need to be seen as independent would be important. Or a company might benefit from an independent outsider after a dispute has been settled, to ensure the issue is finally laid to rest and that it does not become corrosive.