New research highlights top three issues impacting HR in professional services

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New research released by business software provider Access Group sheds light on the areas of focus for the industry when it comes to their people management, as well as how HR directors are responding to these current issues and trends and their aspirations for the future.

The top three primary areas of concern for HR professionals were:

  • Environmental factors including the introduction of flexible working legislation
  • Issues around on-boarding and talent management of the increasingly benefit-savvy Generation Y's
  • The perception of HR teams and the progression of HR directors as true leaders within professional services organisations

93% of HR managers found that there had been little or no impact on their businesses to-date from the changes in legislation for flexible working. Over 80% of respondents said they have seen an increase in flexible working patterns within their organisations over recent years, indicating the increase is not from legislative changes but that it was in fact seen as a more sensible and beneficial way of planning the workforce. Only 2% viewed flexible working as operationally difficult to implement. 

In terms of recruitment and talent management, in excess of 70% of respondents had seen an increase in e-recruitment methods over the course of last year, whilst more than 60% of respondents said that over the last 12 months they have seen a move away from using traditional recruitment agencies in favour of building their own 'talent pools'.

Over 80% of respondents have used social media channels such as LinkedIn to advertise vacant positions in their companies during the last 12 months. However, it is not all bad news for the recruitment agencies, which are still ranked as the number one channel choice of HR partners looking to recruit new talent into professional services companies.  Of those businesses actively recruiting, social media was the next most widely used channel followed by the use of existing staff and finally the traditional printed advert medium. 

When it comes to on-boarding, it was seen there was clearly much room for improvement with 14% of businesses either not evaluating the on-boarding experience or had no formal method for capturing the information. 

The report highlighted that professional services firms were not so enamoured with their technology capabilities when it comes to capturing employee aspirations with their HR systems for future use such as someone's aspirations to work abroad or learn new languages.  Only 21% of respondents felt that their IT systems would easily allow them to capture, and more importantly, use the information in the future.  40% felt that the capability was some way there, but it required them to manually search for the information and 39% felt that this capability was beyond what their systems could effectively deliver. 

Nick Hogan, divisional director for HCM at Access Group commented, "The research highlights valuable insights into the issues that are currently affecting HR, particularly around the on-boarding process which is a vital aspect of any HR software for the professional services sector from law firms and management consultancies to PR and marketing agencies. On-Boarding is something that we have implemented in our own SelectHR solution, as we recognise it is critical to effectively having a 3D view of an organisation's talent. 

"Equally, it was also interesting to see how HR professionals are still battling for a seat in the Boardroom, with only half of the respondents feeling they were considered an integral part of the business. Changing senior executives' perception of HR is essential given that professional services organisations are fundamentally about the people. Becoming more commercially savvy is key, using technology to back-up strategy with hard data and evidence around the talent base." 

The full whitepaper can be downloaded here.

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About Access Group: 

Access is a leading author of integrated business management software. The portfolio spans solutions for ERP, finance, HR, Payroll, warehousing, business intelligence, professional service automation and manufacturing. More than 5,000 UK businesses and not-for-profit organisations use Access solutions to improve their performance, profitability and drive growth, unlocking their business potential through improved business insight.

Vertical focus and industry-specific solutions differentiate Access in the market and templated solutions make for rapid and easy deployments. Using Access software to automate operations, streamline processes and share real-time business information anytime, anywhere, businesses can benefit from significant performance improvements. 

Access is one of the top five fastest growing UK software developers in The Sunday Times Buyout Track 100 2012 and featured in last year’s Profit Track 100. On-going commitment to excellence, customers and employees has also placed the company among the UK’s top employers in The Sunday Times’ 100 ‘Best Companies to Work For’ 2014. 

Accreditations and memberships:

  • Microsoft Gold Certified Partner
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Business Application Software Developers Association (BASDA)
  • Access’ software is recognised by HM Revenue & Customs 


  • Inclusion in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list for mid-market companies 2014
  • Inclusion in The London Stock Exchange 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain
  • The Innovation Award finalist at the National Business Awards 2013
  • Software Product of the Year finalist at the British Accountancy Awards 2013
  • ICT in Manufacturing finalist at the Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2013
  • Inclusion in The Sunday Times Buyout Track 100 list (47th)
  • Inclusion in The Sunday Times Profit Track 100 list (63rd) 

Media information: 

Helen Carpenter
Senior PR Consultant
Access Group
T: +44 (0) 1206 322575
F: +44 (0) 1206 322956



Changing senior executives' perception of HR is essential given that professional services organisations are fundamentally about the people. Becoming more commercially savvy is key, using technology to back-up strategy with hard data and evidence around the talent base.
Nick Hogan, Divisional Director for HCM at Access Group