The Human Resources function is one of the strategic and operational pillars within an organisation. It requires a set-up which can address the regulatory employment obligations, the foresight and experience to consult top management on people-related decisions, the influential strength to foster or channel the Company's culture and all this while also having ears and hands to the ground to handle or escalate day to day matters.

Whilst larger companies can employ a number of professionals each having a different specialisation, not every organisation can justify the investment in such a specialised team. Some small enterprises often do without an appointed HR professional entirely, resulting in other roles within the organisations becoming increasingly burdened with matters that they may not be equipped to handle. This means that rather than focusing on the financial projections of the next quarter, a finance manager is answering payroll related queries. Similarly, managing directors may end up spending a significant portion of the week dealing with issues like poor employee performance or recruiting new employees but not having the time to address retention or employee development. All of this is costly not only in terms of the lost opportunity to focus on the revenue generating areas of the business, but also due to the costs inherent in issues such as poor retention and lack of performance management processes.

This is why a number of companies resort to lean on a service provider that has experts readily available to either consult with, or to outsource their help for a project or a period of time.

By outsourcing such assistance from a reputable provider, business leaders can put their mind at rest that they will have an experienced partner on board who can help them navigate through regulatory matters, pre-empt the 'people pain points' and help build an infrastructure that is sustainable for the growth of that organisation.

CSB Group is a leading corporate services provider in Malta with a multi-disciplinary Employment Advisory team, having specialisations in Law, Psychology, HR, Accountancy and Management. This article aims to tackle some common questions that potential clients might have when considering outsourcing such services.

Employers are sometimes faced with a situation that they have never encountered before. Can one contact CSB Group for ad-hoc assistance in such scenarios?

Yes definitely. The beauty of having a multi-disciplinary team at CSB group, is that whatever the query or issue of the client, we can come together for that client with options and solutions. It could be an ad-hoc matter that is discussed over emails or calls. For example, clients may want to clarify a legal matter or get a tax opinion with respect to specific employment benefits. However, assistance can also be provided for longer term such as coaching a newly appointed HR manager. In this case we are simply in the background, offering advice until the manger can learn the ropes of taking more strategic decisions. The advantage is that the knowledge and skills are retained within the organisation and the internal team would then be able to handle future incidents independently without the need to bring assistance on board again in future.

With respect to getting advice on legal matters - what are some of the common queries or issues that CSB legal has been contacted to provide advice on?

Issues are wide ranging and vary depending on the employer's background and operation, the type of employment relationship that the employee has with his employer, and the field of work. Advice is regularly sought on conditions of work, policies, disputes, disciplinary issues and also at the end of an employment relationship between employer and employee.

Sometimes what the law dictates for employment matters may leave some room for interpretation, which can be confusing for employers – what guidance do you provide in this instance?

The Employment and Industrial Relations Act (EIRA), serves as a primary source of employment law, including contract requirements, conditions of employment, protection against discrimination and industrial relations.

There are also a number of regulations under the EIRA, which, as secondary legislation, to a certain extent expand on the legal framework provided by the EIRA, and also regulate certain conditions of employment for specific sectors – these are better known as Wage Regulation Orders. Public service management code and collective agreements are also sources of employment law. However, tribunal decisions and court judgments (when a tribunal decision is appealed) are a major source within this field of legislation. Specific notions are shaped and developed through tribunal and court interpretations and decisions, along with custom and practice within the industry. This is an invaluable source of information for any employer and which might not be as readily accessible unless conversant with such issues on a regular basis.

In view of all this, any advice within this field can only be given after reviewing the governing employment contract, having background on the industry within which the employer operates, and more importantly in light of tribunal interpretations. Thus, advice provided is always tailor-made to the employer's or employee's requirements in any specific situation.

Let's argue that a new enterprise has just started employing its first employees but does not yet have the budget to employ an HR professional, what solutions do you provide such companies?

This is a very common scenario that makes outsourcing HR services a viable option for many start-ups. With a multidisciplinary service provider, the clients can put their mind at rest that they will have an experienced partner on board who can pre-empt the 'people pain points' and help build an infrastructure that is sustainable for the growth of that organisation. At times we are required to help the business establish internal HR policies or literally build the HR department. Another common request is that of outsourcing payroll since recruiting a dedicated payroll executive would not be feasible for a start-up and this may include the onboarding process such as obtaining NI numbers for foreign nationals, registering with JobsPlus etc. Some companies also think ahead and ask us to come on board to plan their recruitment strategy, hire their management team or build their performance management processes. This is wise especially when a company plans to grow quickly and therefore needs a framework through which to select the best talent, manage expectations and reward the strongest performers.

What are the advantages of outsourcing the payroll process to a service provider like CSB Group?

There are a number of important aspects to consider, notably:

  • Cost & time – Payroll administration can be time-consuming and if it's being done by an internal employee the role could be better focused on other more strategic or revenue generating functions.
  • Continuity – A service provider is committed to run payroll on time regardless of whether a member of the team is sick or on leave.
  • Confidentiality – payroll data is sensitive and confidential. Some organisations prefer not to have it handled internally.
  • Accuracy & Easy Access to other related areas of Expertise – Payroll is very much interlinked with Taxation and Legal matters and having a number of specialised professionals working together, the client is better serviced holistically. Being a large payroll team handling a number of clients hailing from different industries, payroll executives have extensive industry specific knowledge. This certainly offers peace of mind to both employers and employees since errors are minimised and even complex computations like those for certain benefits would be handled without a glitch.

One would assume that confidentiality and data protection are fundamental pillars when handling payroll. What processes do you have in place to safeguard the data of all your payroll clients?

Confidentiality is governed through the outsourcing agreement and our own internal policies. In conjunction, the agreement and policies regulate the manner in which data is stored and handled. Some of the measures we undertake include:

  • Putting in place a data processing agreement with all our payroll clients as well as with our sub-processors i.e. our payroll software providers;
  • Sending our payroll clients password protected attachments in emails
  • Payroll software is secured through passwords to limit access to the particular user
  • Saving the personal data in a folder within the server whereby access is limited to the payroll team.

What if employees have payroll related queries – would a service provider still be able to handle such communication even though they are not physically present at their organisation?

Yes definitely. Our clients regularly provide their own employees with our email address so that they can easily contact us with any of their payroll related queries, typically keeping their employers in copy.

Plugging into CSB group's employment advisory services is vacancycentre – a dedicated recruitment agency. What is the added value of using an agency when searching for key roles within the business?

Our work revolves around finding talent, but it is equally important to say we serve to understand value and put both parties together to synergise that value. There are a series of evident benefits we bring to the table:

  • direct and qualified access to skilled talent;
  • saving client time, which can otherwise be utilised towards more strategic and business-centric processes;
  • support to mediate and facilitate negotiations;
  • leverage on experience building contacts with key market players;
  • industry specific knowledge of trends & developments which is handy when tailoring specific job search approaches;
  • profiling, screening, interviewing & testing are laborious activities yet instrumental processes which the client can conveniently rely on the agency to carry out;
  • sifting through many CVs is a challenging feat, which becomes a quicker process when carried out by a team of focused recruiters;
  • serving as a trusted guidance of what realistically one can expect from the marketplace

As recruiters you come across numerous candidates. What process do you go through to ensure the candidates you recommend to your client are of good quality?

During any hiring the selection process is the most impactful aspect of talent recruitment and retention. If one attempts to rush through it, the result would be a dear price to pay – both in terms of cost and time.

Profiling & searching are the initial steps, whereby consultants gather detailed information to ensure requirements are carefully matched with profiles. Various approaches are utilised to source the best-suited candidates, but our experienced recruiters will have already specific names in mind thanks to their extensive activity in the marketplace.

Consultants formulate a selection funnel and will go through aspects like qualifications, skillset, attitude, values and objectives which bundled together will form the matching values to our client requirements. At the end of the recruiting process, consultants will leverage on their bargaining skills to guide the conversations towards a package which is in line with external market benchmarks to ensure the best deal is met.

Any agency can source candidates but only the few will manage to put forward compelling profiles in a timely manner over & over again, and our long-standing success is testimony of this.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.