Outsourcing HR: Is It a Cost-Effective Solution?

Outsourcing HR can be a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes. It allows organisations to reduce overhead costs by eliminating the need for office space, infrastructure, and additional personnel. HR outsourcing also provides access to expertise at a fraction of the cost of hiring and training an in-house HR team. Additionally, outsourcing ensures compliance with labour laws and industry standards, reducing the risk of legal battles and penalties. The cost savings achieved through outsourcing can vary depending on the organisation’s size, industry, and the scope of HR functions outsourced.

Key Takeaways:

  • Outsourcing HR can reduce overhead costs and eliminate the need for office space and additional personnel.
  • Access to expertise at a fraction of the cost of in-house HR team.
  • Outsourcing ensures compliance with labour laws and reduces the risk of legal battles and penalties.
  • The cost savings achieved through outsourcing can vary depending on the organisation’s size, industry, and scope of HR functions outsourced.
  • Outsourcing HR allows organisations to focus on their core competencies and allocate resources effectively.

Understanding the Costs of HR Outsourcing

Outsourcing HR functions can significantly impact an organisation’s budget and operational efficiency. Companies save on average 22% by outsourcing HR operations. It’s essential to delve into the financial aspects to determine whether this move aligns with the company’s strategic goals and budget constraints.

Initial Cost Analysis

The initial cost analysis of HR outsourcing involves evaluating the upfront expenses associated with engaging an external provider. These costs can include consultation fees, the setup of services, and any initial training required for the vendor to understand the business’s specific HR needs. This analysis provides a foundation for comparing the potential savings against the costs of maintaining an in-house HR department.

Comparison with In-House HR Expenses

Comparing the costs of outsourcing HR functions with the expenses of an in-house HR department is crucial. This comparison should account for salaries, benefits, training, HR technology, and overhead costs associated with an internal team. Often, companies find that outsourcing offers a more predictable cost structure, turning fixed HR costs into variable costs that can scale with the business’s needs.

Factors Influencing the Cost-Effectiveness of HR Outsourcing

Several factors can affect the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing HR functions, making it a more viable option for some companies over others.

Scale and Scope of Services

The size of a company and the breadth of services required play a significant role in determining the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing. Larger organisations or those needing a wide range of HR services might benefit more from economies of scale and the expertise of specialised HR firms.

Complexity of HR Needs

The more complex a company’s HR requirements, the more likely it is to benefit from outsourcing. Specialised HR services, such as international labour law compliance or executive search, may be more efficiently handled by experts outside the company.

Customization and Integration Requirements

The need for customised HR solutions or integration with existing systems can also influence cost-effectiveness. Outsourcing providers who offer tailor-made services and seamless integration with current operations can offer significant value, potentially outweighing the costs of customising in-house solutions.

The Benefits of HR Outsourcing

HR outsourcing offers several benefits to organisations. It allows businesses to focus on their core competencies by redirecting internal resources and efforts towards strategies for innovation and growth. By adjusting the management structure and outsourcing HR tasks, organisations can optimise their HR activities, benefiting from efficient processes and compliance management.

One of the key advantages of HR outsourcing is access to specialised HR expertise without the costs associated with recruiting, training, and retaining a full in-house HR team. HR professionals with extensive knowledge and experience can handle various HR functions, such as recruitment, employee onboarding, benefits administration, and performance management.

Outsourcing HR also brings about cost savings for organisations. By partnering with an HR service provider, businesses can reduce HR-related expenses, such as salaries, benefits, and overhead costs. The cost per employee for managing HR functions internally is often higher compared to outsourcing, where the cost is usually based on the scope of services provided.

Moreover, HR outsourcing can improve HR management within organisations. HR service providers offer streamlined processes, advanced HR software, and best practices in HR administration. This enables organisations to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and compliance in their HR activities.

Overall, outsourcing HR can lead to enhanced profitability for organisations. By leveraging the expertise of HR professionals, optimising HR functions, and achieving cost savings, businesses can allocate resources effectively and focus on strategic initiatives that drive growth and success.

Cost Savings Through HR Outsourcing

HR outsourcing can be a strategic solution for organisations looking to reduce costs and optimise resources. By partnering with a reputable HR provider, businesses can achieve significant savings in various aspects of their HR operations.

Cost Per Employee Reduction

One of the key advantages of HR outsourcing is the potential to lower the cost per employee. When HR functions are handled in-house, organisations have to bear the expenses associated with hiring, training, and maintaining an HR team. These costs include salaries, benefits, office space, and technology infrastructure. However, by outsourcing HR, businesses can transfer these expenses to the HR provider, resulting in considerable cost savings.

Average Cost Reduction

The reduction in administrative and operational costs such as payroll processing, employee benefits administration, and HR software licensing fees can be lucrative for a business. 77% of HR leaders said HR outsourcing made payroll more accurate and efficient.  By leveraging the expertise and efficiency of an HR provider, businesses can streamline their HR processes and significantly reduce their overall HR expenses.

Optimising HR In-House Resources

Outsourcing HR allows organisations to reallocate their in-house resources to focus on core business activities. Instead of dedicating time and effort to HR tasks, employees can concentrate on strategic growth initiatives and revenue-generating tasks. This optimization of resources can lead to improved productivity, enhanced profitability, and a competitive edge in the market.

HR Software and Technology Savings

Many HR outsourcing providers offer access to advanced HR software and technology solutions to improve business growth as part of their service package. By leveraging these tools, organisations can reduce their own technology investment costs. HR software streamlines processes, automates routine tasks, and provides real-time data analysis, resulting in increased efficiency and cost savings.

In summary, HR outsourcing presents a significant opportunity for organisations to achieve cost efficiency and allocate resources effectively. By reducing the cost per employee, achieving average cost reductions, optimising in-house resources, and leveraging HR software, businesses can achieve significant savings in their HR operations.

Evaluating the Overall Cost-Effectiveness

Conducting a Cost-Benefit Analysis

To accurately assess the cost-effectiveness of HR outsourcing, organisations must conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. This involves quantifying not only the direct costs associated with outsourcing HR functions but also the indirect benefits. Direct costs include the fees paid to the outsourcing provider, while indirect benefits might encompass enhanced compliance, access to specialised expertise, and the avoidance of potential legal penalties. By comparing these costs and benefits with those associated with maintaining an in-house HR department, companies can make an informed decision about whether outsourcing HR is a financially viable option for their specific circumstances.

Considering Non-Financial Factors

Beyond the purely financial aspects, evaluating the cost-effectiveness of HR outsourcing requires consideration of several non-financial factors. These include the impact on employee satisfaction, the quality of HR services, and the potential for HR innovations. Additionally, outsourcing relationships can offer scalability and flexibility that may not be easily achieved in-house, allowing businesses to adapt more swiftly to market changes or growth opportunities. The alignment of the outsourcing provider’s values and practices with the company’s culture and objectives is also crucial, as it affects employee morale and can contribute to the overall success of the business.


In conclusion, determining the cost-effectiveness of HR outsourcing is a multifaceted process that extends beyond simple cost comparison. A thorough cost-benefit analysis, taking into account both financial and non-financial factors, is essential to make an informed decision. 

Outsourcing HR can offer significant advantages, including cost savings, access to specialised expertise, and enhanced compliance. However, the decision should also consider the broader impacts on the organisation’s culture, employee satisfaction, and long-term strategic goals. 

By carefully evaluating all these aspects, businesses can decide whether HR outsourcing aligns with their objectives and is likely to offer a return on investment that justifies the shift from in-house HR management to an outsourced model. The Boardroom Advisors team is on hand to help you understand if hiring additional HR support is right for you.

Get in touch with us to find out how outsourced HR services could help grow your business by completing a contact form.


 What is HR outsourcing?

HR outsourcing, or human resource outsourcing, involves contracting third-party HR services to handle specific HR functions for a company, such as payroll, employee benefits, recruitment, and compliance. It allows businesses to focus on their core activities while leaving HR responsibilities to external experts.

How much does it cost to outsource HR?

The cost of outsourcing HR varies depending on the services required, the size of the organisation, and the complexity of HR functions. Typically, outsourcing HR can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per employee annually.

What are the benefits of outsourcing HR?

Outsourcing HR can provide cost savings, access to specialised HR expertise, improved compliance, reduced administrative burden, enhanced employee experience, and scalability for small businesses. It allows companies to benefit from professional HR services without maintaining an in-house HR team.

What are the common HR functions that can be outsourced?

HR functions that are commonly outsourced include payroll processing, employee benefits administration, recruitment and onboarding, HR compliance and legal issues, employee relations, performance management, and training and development.

Is outsourcing HR a cost-effective solution?

 Yes, outsourcing HR can be cost-effective for many businesses. It eliminates the need to hire and train in-house HR staff, reduces overhead costs, and provides access to specialised HR expertise without the expense of maintaining a dedicated HR department.

How can outsourcing HR help small businesses?

Outsourcing HR can benefit small businesses by providing access to professional HR services that they may not be able to afford in-house, reducing administrative burden, ensuring compliance with employment laws, and offering guidance on HR-related matters, allowing business owners to focus on growth and strategic initiatives.

What are the types of HR services that can be outsourced?

HR services that can be outsourced include HR consulting, payroll and benefits administration, recruitment and staffing, HR compliance and risk management, employee training and development, performance management, and employee relations.

What are the key factors to consider when deciding to outsource HR?

When considering HR outsourcing, businesses should evaluate their specific HR needs, the reputation and expertise of potential HR providers, the cost-benefit analysis of outsourcing, the level of support and responsiveness required, and the impact on overall business operations and culture.

Is it time for our company to outsource HR?

Deciding whether to outsource HR depends on the specific needs and circumstances of your company. If you find that your in-house HR team is overwhelmed with administrative tasks, lacks expertise in certain HR functions, or if your business is expanding and needs scalable HR support, it may be time to consider outsourcing HR.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.