Interview with Martina McAuley of HR Team
For our November partner feature, we are highlighting the HR Team. We had the pleasure of speaking with the HR Team’s co-owner and operational HR specialist, Martina McAuley. HR Team has become the fastest-growing HR consultancy service across Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom and will be celebrating their 10-year milestone in January of 2023. The firm specializes in human resources and employment law while being a provider of outsourced HR support to their clients and assisting their clients with any issues, questions, or concerns arising in the employee lifecycle. These may include acquisitions, leave entitlements, redundancies, if the business has been sold, or if an employee is not performing well, among other concerns. Their goal is to provide the best possible consultation within the scope of HR so that they can take the stress away from related challenges for the employer.
What is unique about the HR Team is that they are located in both Northern Ireland (serving the UK) and the Republic of Ireland, where even though the legislation is different in these jurisdictions, they are still able to seamlessly cater to the needs of their clients in both locations. When asked what led Martina and her business partner Breda Cullen, she mentioned that she and Breda are “sisters in law” and both have a substantial background in Human Resources. Breda was previously a director of HR, and Martina’s background focused on operational HR work. Together they have a unique skill set providing a full scope of HR solutions and expertise. While working in this industry, they realized that there was a substantial gap in the market for a service provider that fully supports a commercial business that perhaps did not have the right knowledge, skills, or time (depending on their circumstances) to provide their own HR. They understood from experience that their clients are more inclined to spend their resources focusing on actually building their business, so they wanted to be able to deliver stress-free HR solutions to enable their clients to focus on their business goals and trust that their employees were being taken care of. Their goal is to be a company’s internal HR department that just happens not to be in your office building. Their mission is to provide a personal touch to each of their clients and provide options that are specifically tailored to each circumstance.
Since the HR Team continues to grow, we were interested in how their roles have evolved. Martina has been adamant about adopting a hands-on approach in serving their clients and maintaining that active role throughout the relationship. They delegate their responsibilities well among themselves and staff and are also focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of the HR Team in their industry while providing excellent service at the best possible price in order to be competitive. They are also driving their business forward with new software products they are aiming to launch within the next year. They have designed a robust document shop that will give access to every type of document that an employer in Ireland or the UK would need for their staff, and they are also launching a leave management software, so their clients will be able to better organize and monitor their employees’ leave. This will allow employees to request leave from their computer or phone and it will go directly to their manager, and their clients will be able to better assess their employees leave time while managing it all in one place.
When it comes to any flourishing business, we were interested in how they built their credibility in their industry. Martina discussed how it was just herself and Breda at the start of HR Team, so they were the only ones delivering direct service to their clients. Their main goal was to be hands on and provide the best possible service, with honest and accurate advice for the best experience and outcome. They discovered early that many commercial businesses were not receiving the personal attention that they offered which is how they were able to differentiate themselves within their industry. Not only were they focused on providing great service, but they were also building relationships with their clients and dedicating personal time which enabled them to better understand their clients and confidently solve the challenges they faced. With an unparalleled attention to detail, the HR Team grew exponentially through the word of mouth of satisfied clients, and they now continue to grow in major markets within Ireland and the UK with their experienced focus on employment and labor laws.
We continued this conversation into understanding how they were able to build and maintain such valuable relationships. Martina mentioned how networking and building relationships takes time. Both Martina and Breda have also been the face of the business and on the frontlines of building their business and clientele from the ground up. From the very beginning and even today, they never say no to an opportunity where they can build relationships that will enable them to grow. They also emphasize the importance of maintaining those relationships by regularly engaging with their clients and hosting workshops to ensure their needs are being met. During COVID, HR Team went above and beyond what their normal service would have been, providing twice a week webinars for their clients in Ireland and the UK on what to do, how to furlough, and what their options were during these unforeseen circumstances.
We were curious to learn more about the HR webinars they provide. Martina went into detail about the wide range of employment lifecycle topics they cover in their webinars, which includes what to do if someone is aggrieved in the workplace, when to go through a disciplinary process, how to manage a leave of absence process, but one of the major and most successful webinars they provide is on performance management. This webinar is so successful because it highlights the importance of re-engaging a great employee that may be struggling due to burn out or outside factors. It also focuses on helping employers get to the root of the problem, turn it around and optimize results from your team. Recruitment can be costly and time consuming so HR Team helps clients reorient good employees who may have not been firing on all cylinders. They focus on re-working the management of that employee and restoring their confidence and success in performance, while simultaneously providing their managers with the right tools moving forward.
Lastly, we discussed how they saw the most valuable part of their industry as providing their clients with peace of mind. The risk involved in operating within these jurisdictions can be detrimental and crippling to any business involved, so it is important for a business to get the right information and best practices to ensure they are legally protected in any circumstance. And the HR Team is there to help.