Curiosity is a great trait and we want to encourage plenty of it. So if you’ve ever wondered what strategic HR really is, what a trusted people expert actually does, or are confused about why we’re talking about fractions all the time, you’re in the right place.

Do you have a question we haven’t answered? Just drop us a line at [email protected] and we would be happy to reply.

Our People Directors are our trusted people experts. We are told time and time again by clients how much they value having a trusted advistor at their side, working within the business to help align strategy and people planning. Our People Directors are among the most experienced strategic HR Directors and CPOs in the UK so you can be confident you are getting service and advice you can really trust.

Our People Directors work with our clients to understand your business at the most fundamental level and work with your leadership team to identify, design and deliver the right interventions to help your business, and your people, to thrive. Ultimately, this enables business transformation, at whatever point of your growth journey you are. 

Your People Director works within your business on a part-time basis to optimise your employee experience, attract and nurture talent, and align the people plan with your business strategy. They can and do have enormous impact and can help you build the right organisational structure and strategy to sustain ongoing growth. 

You may have heard the term “fractional” HR Director. This is another term for part-time HR Director – an external consultant who works part-time but long-term within your business to help you deliver strategic objectives. The use of fractional consultants is increasingly common among smart, ambitious businesses who want to access top-tier talent on a flexible basis to suit their budgets and requirements, without the risk of a full time hire.  

 In practical terms the differences may vary as little or as much as an individual company chooses – though a CPO (Chief People Officer) sits at Board level where an HR Director may not. But the rise of the CPO in organisations signals a bigger cultural shift towards people and culture within a company in a broader scope than traditional definitions of “Human Resources” would generally indicate. As People Directors, the remit is generally more strategic and visionary, aligned with the overarching business strategy, delivering growth, commercial performance and cultural alignment through well embedded people plans. The increasing move towards the CPO or People Director perhaps signifies the growing recognition of businesses that a robust people strategy is as vital for continued success as any financial or operating plan.  

Our People Directors usually work part-time with clients over a longer term period, often between 18 months and 5 years, though that will vary from client to client. However, we can also undertake project-based or interim appointments on an ad hoc basis. 

If you are interested in an interim HR Director or need HR help with delivering a specific, long-term project, merger or acquisition, please get in touch on 0345 646 5201 or email [email protected]  

Our People Directors are based throughout the UK so we are likely to have someone near you. Your Regional Director will introduce you to the Director best suited to the work you are looking for but of course there will be opportunities to meet up front and ensure there is a good fit. You will often have a choice of multiple People Directors depending on availability and the type of work you require. 

Our People Directors all work on a portfolio basis, meaning they work part-time with multiple businesses concurrently. Every member of our team is an experienced, established HR Director and there will not be a conflict of interest across clients and confidence is always assured. Working with multiple businesses gives our People Directors a breadth and depth of experience most individuals cannot match, and ensures the most current, up to date thinking and experience available anywhere in the UK. 

Any business experiencing growth or planning for a successful future will benefit from a strategic people plan at the heart of the business. From creating a compelling employer brand to ensure you attract, develop and retain the best talent, to creating a long-term succession plan, designing the structure of your organisation to be future-ready or to attract or optimise investment, having a strategically-minded HR Director on board often proves to be transformative for our clients. 

Most smaller and mid-tier businesses either don’t want, don’t need or can’t afford a full time HR Director – especially one with this level of experience. They will, however, benefit from the insight and expertise one can provide. Therefore, bringing in a fractional or part-time HR Director of this calibre gives you access to the ultimate competitive advantage, setting your business up for present and future success without the risk and expense of a full-time hire. 

We don’t specify a minimum contract term so there is very little risk. Usually our People Directors work with clients anything from one or two days per month up to three days per week, and often for 18 months or more. Many of our clients have been with us for over five years and love the flexibility of being able to dial up or down on the requirement to suit them.  

The cost will vary depending on how many days per month you require a People Director to work with your business. Consultancy at this level is a business investment and the work our People Directors do with our clients is genuinely transformational, with impact on the productivity and profitability of the business as a whole. 

It is also worth bearing in mind that because our own recruitment standards are so high, you are guaranteed the highest calibre of Director, who has worked at Board level with proven expertise and impact. There are therefore no lengthy recruitment processes or costs, no training or onboarding periods, and the commercial impact can begin from day one. 

Please give us a call or send us an email to discuss the costs in more detail as they will vary depending on your requirements. 

People Puzzles HR Directors are industry-leading experts, highly skilled in what they do. From a culture-fit perspective, we always take time up front to make sure everyone is happy with the match to ensure our clients get the very best experience every time. During the Discovery phase of the relationship we take a deep dive into your business and ensure everyone gets to know each other well. Our Regional Directors are also available for clients as additional support. 

Yes we do. Developing effective leadership in individuals, team and organisations is a core part of our role in helping businesses to thrive. Our trusted HR Directors will work with each client business to assess, design and deploy the most appropriate people plan, which can often include leadership development training. If you would like to find out more, please do get in touch for an informal chat. 

Yes. Executive coaching, team coaching and leadership coaching are just a few of the people development interventions our People Directors are skilled in. Coaching can be a very powerful way to develop your people and is often used by our HR Directors to help our clients achieve their goals. 

Absolutely. An experienced HR Director is an essential, guiding hand through any merger or acquisition. They can help you to: 

  • Prepare your business and team for a sale, merger or acquisition 
  • Integrate teams and define team or organisational structure 
  • Build the best talent pipeline to prepare your business for the future 
  • Provide training and leadership development to equip your managers and leaders for change 
  • Align business strategy with people plan to keep everything on track 

If you would like to discuss how we can help support your business either planning for, or going through, a merger or acquisition please give us a call or email us and we would be happy to set up a 30 minute complimentary consultation with a trusted people expert. 

We don’t have minimum or maximum terms for our People Directors so every appointment is different. As long as your HR Director is not already committed elsewhere, there is usually the opportunity to work with them for as long as you need to. 

Yes! Our network of HR Directors is spread across the UK so we are very likely to have an experienced People Director close to where you’re based (or close enough to travel to). Check out Our Team to see who is based in your area. We are always on the lookout for new People Directors to join our growing team so this list will change frequently. 

We are not a recruitment agency. However, we can support you with creating and enhancing your recruitment strategy and recruitment processes, including talent attraction, onboarding processes, talent development and retention. You may wish to develop these skills and competencies in-house in the longer term to save money and we can also help with building up that capability in your team. 

All our People Directors have a deep understanding of employment and contract law, as well as governance and compliance regulation as it relates to people in the workplace. That said, we are not a legal advice service; we do, however, have a legal service sister company which is available to our clients on a referral basis in cases where our own HR legal understanding would benefit from additional external support. 

Ensuring that our clients are all working to legally compliant employment standards is a fundamental responsibility of our working partnership and one which we always take seriously. Our People Directors all undergo continual professional development to ensure they are working to the latest regulations to keep all clients fully compliant. 

Supporting our clients with every aspect of HR is part of the service we provide. We do not usually undertake ad hoc work solely of this nature but it is always worth a conversation to find out if we would be able to help. Depending on your circumstances we may be able to offer ad hoc advice or recommend a particular course of action for you to take so please do get in touch if you would like to discuss this further. 

We provide strategic HR consultancy services provided on a fractional basis. Our People Directors work with your business on a flexible, part-time basis from as little as one or two days a month. Our work is very much in the same arena as traditional HR Consultancy, but because of our longer term partnerships with client businesses, it is a slightly different model. Our clients tend to find that having an experienced people expert embedded in the team for the longer term is a real benefit, so they have the same person assessing, designing and delivering the right processes and interventions, working as a trusted advisor alongside the senior team or business owner. 

Strategic HR

People have the biggest impact on the success of any business. We create, support and deliver people management strategies that accelerate your business growth.

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Our Team

Our People Directors work in local teams across the UK. So you can work with someone already working with businesses in your area.

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Case Studies

The best people to explain the impact we can have on your business are our clients. Take a look through our Case Studies.

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See what our clients say!

Lynn guided me out of my comfort zone to help me achieve my goals

Samantha Freeman, Management Accountant, Wirtgen Group

I could not recommend Lynn more, she guided me out of my comfort zone to help me achieve my goals and to think about things from an alternative perspective. I have also had a few people comment on the positive changes they can see in me which is a result of our sessions.

Sarah is a trusted advisor and sounding board to both me and my team.

Claire Watkin, Managing Director, Trendsetter

Working with People Puzzles has enabled me and the team of Directors to step out of the day to day running of the business and concentrate on our future strategic direction. Sarah has helped us focus on how we develop our future leaders, develop cross team collaboration, and enhance overall business performance, as well as supporting the achievement of B Corp status. She is a trusted advisor and sounding board to both me and my team.

The achievements of the People Strategy have made a measurable difference.

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive Officer, Sigma

I can't thank Paula Woods enough for all her support and guidance over the last 3 years. Her time with us turned out to be a much longer assignment than any of us expected but I guess this reflects the extra ordinary events and circumstances we’ve encountered since 2019. The achievements of the People Strategy over this period have made a measurable difference to colleague engagement and has helped Sigma transition our people policies from that of an SME into market leading large corporate. Thank you.

Lynn was always positive and listened when it mattered

Coaching Client – Wirtgen Limited

I cannot give Lynn enough thanks for the help that she gave me to better understand myself and help me find the answers to some tough questions. Lynn was always positive and listened when it mattered, Thanks again Lynn.

I have been able to build a proactive relationship with Pauline

Amy Fisher, MD, Doby Verrolec

I have been able to build a proactive relationship with Pauline. I came into this role last year with an agenda for growth and we have been working together across employee engagement, contacts and policies.

Pauline developed our people strategy with a robust methodology

Jeremy Royle, MD, YourNRG

Pauline’s hands on approach helped us to build on the work we have already taken and develop our people strategy with a robust methodology to meet the current needs and future growth of the business.

Working closely with one local and very knowledgeable person

Amy Fisher, MD, Doby Verrolec

The real benefit of People Puzzles is that your business and industry sector needs are matched with one of the People Puzzles Directors. This means you work closely with one local and very knowledgeable person who can quickly understand the people needs of the business.

Working with Sarah has been a rewarding, productive and an educational experience

Chief Operating Officer, Salford Primary Care Together

We wanted to understand more about what was driving our organisational culture, key risks and issues, what our priorities should be, and to understand what we could achieve with our limited resources. Sarah brought commitment, pragmatism, and positivity to our challenges which helped us achieve many of our goals including organisational restructures, re-design of several key HR processes and upskilling of our teams.

Pauline has very quickly gotten to grips with Your NRG.

Managing Director, Your NRG

Pauline has very quickly gotten to grips with Your NRG, and has brought to our attention some processes that need our focus as a result of our recent rapid growth. We are pushing on with the more pressing operational day-to-day strategies and initiatives whilst also educating the SMT on their overall understanding of ‘cradle to grave’ employment. Pauline continues to work diligently and tirelessly for Your NRG and I am delighted to have her ongoing support alongside us as we continue on our journey to realise our levels of ambition.

Shaun changed the way we approach our senior meetings and helped develop our strategy.

Chair, Regular Cleaning

Shaun worked closely with me and the senior team and taught us a lot. He changed the way we approached our senior meetings and helped us develop our strategy. Shaun dedicated time for each team member and encouraged, educated and guided them to be the best they can be. We achieved so much in the time we worked with Shaun and he has helped to change our focus from working in the business to working on the business giving us time to dedicate to the progression of the teams that make up the rest of our family.

Jill has worked on many projects as our part time HR Director.

Founder, Aura

One was around sick days which she has now reduced by 75%. This has significantly minimised the disruption it was causing.

Stewart's work has been a major factor in helping us achieve our ambitious targets.

Gerry Simmonds, Safpro

Stewart helped to align our senior team around business goals and implemented clear people plan has been a major factor in helping us achieve our ambitious targets. We have grown 20% over the past two years and with the team we now have in place this growth is set to continue.

Lynn's work as our trusted HR consultant and my mentor has been absolutely invaluable.

Oktawia Ellis, HR Manager, We Seal

I have the distinct pleasure of working with Lynn at People Puzzles. Her work over the last few years as our trusted HR consultant and my mentor has been absolutely invaluable. Lynn is an expert in her field, she is very knowledgeable, encourageing, supportive, and an effective leader. She is also really funny and a pleasure to be around! I learned a lot from Lynn and I would strongly recommend her.

The impact Lynn has already had on our challenges are beyond my expectations

James Laxton, Managing Director, Laxtons

I have only been working with Lynn for 6 months but the impact she has already had on the challenges we gave her are beyond my expectations and those of my senior leadership team. She has engaged with all our staff and her people approach is a breath of fresh air for the business. The HR support she has given me has made some very difficult issues appear straight forward and she has given me a new lease of life in the business. We would not have been able to get to where we are now without her wealth of experience and hands on people approach and I am excited to see what the future brings working with Lynn.

Every team leader can now make decisions in line with the vision

Roy Bowie, Managing Director, GreenBlue Urban

I used to have the view that HR was managing difficult cases and moving people on with occasional recruitment support. But what People Puzzles does is so much more than that. It’s about the development of the business and its people as a whole which has been the biggest eye opener for me.

A trusted partner providing valuable scrutiny of our HR practices.

Crawford Knott, Managing Director, Hawk Training

Our workforce and people planning strategy needed developing, there was a clear need to better articulate our strategy. Doing the People Puzzles Discovery, allowed us to gain an objective view of where we were as a business in terms of our people and where we needed to develop in order to meet our goals. The output highlighted we needed to better define our vision, mission, values and strategy to enable our people to live and breathe them. Kerry worked closely with us to provide solutions and a plan to support implementation. I would certainly recommend a Discovery from People Puzzles if you want to gain a clear insight as to where you need to develop your strategy, or to implement one if it’s something you don’t have already.

Janet and People Puzzles have been invaluable to me and my Senior Team.

Dave Henderson, Group CEO, Direct Voice and Data

Janet spent time understanding our business needs and aspirations, then developed a people management strategy which she continues to oversee and deliver. Janet also provides 1-2-1 coaching to the SMT- she is professional, proactive and friendly and we are extremely pleased with the support and advice we have received. Janet is always available and quick to respond, the guidance and assistance given allows us to feel confident we’re approaching any HR matters the right way. I would happily recommend Janet to any business who needs HR support.

Alison only worked for us part-time but had a full-time presence and influence.

Duncan Forbes, Interim CEO, Valleys to Coast

Alison was always a sound, reliable and expert source of practical advice and made things happen. She has a good sense of humour and was very easy to work with. She acted as the sounding board that every Chief Executive needs, supporting the Board to deal with some difficult HR issues. She was a vital source of calm at the outbreak of the COVID pandemic as we grappled with the impact on the organisation and our team. I would strongly recommend her as a strategic HR advisor as she would be an asset to any Executive team, providing effective support and expert advice.

Lynn's approach is refreshing and ensures you get where you want to be much quicker than we would otherwise.

Tony Passmore, CEO, Passmore Group

Lynn has worked as our HR consultant for the last year and has helped us bring structure to our HR systems & processes – she has reviewed all our procedures as well creating new ones and for sure the Company and it’s people have benefited. Her matter of fact approach is refreshing and ensures you get where you want to be much quicker than we would otherwise. She is a hands on ‘do-er’ who gets things done and I recommend her to anyone who needs some real expertise in their HR.

Working with Gill has helped us develop a People Plan which goes beyond compliance

Bernard Sellars, Managing Director, Lindum Packaging

Working with Gill from People Puzzles has helped us develop a People Plan which goes beyond compliance – it has helped us as a team to achieve greater alignment and engagement with the business strategy and goals.

I found the personal development coaching I received from Lynn to be very beneficial.

Alex Calvert, Marketing and PR Account Manager, Intandem Communications Ltd

I found the personal development coaching I received from Lynn to be very beneficial. Lynn helped me to work on some very clear objectives with a good balance of supportiveness and knowing when to challenge and push me out of my comfort zone!

We are now in a strong position from a people perspective, to leverage the next 6 months and beyond

Craig Bennett, CEO, Sigma Group

Paula developed a clear People plan and road map, which has significantly moved us on. She has developed the existing HR team, and has ensured that we have progressed quickly on all the strategic initiatives that we identified. I’m confident that based on the last 6 months, with Paula’s input and contribution, we are now in a strong position from a people perspective, to leverage the next 6 months and beyond.

A very professional team

Chris Morling, Founder & CEO, Money.co.uk

It’s been brilliant to have such knowledgeable consultants help us to empower our people. Stuart and Sophie were incredibly flexible, adapting their services to our business and existing culture. I’d highly recommend People Puzzles.

Shifted my view of HR!

Gavin Pooley, Managing Director, Liquidline

I used to think that HR was all about employment law compliance and managing the administration basics. I didn’t get the hugely positive impact strategic HR could make to the business – I do now!’

Transformed my understanding

Managing Director, B2B Supplies and Support Services

Having Alison on the team is like having another MD/MBA in the business. She has totally transformed my understanding of HR.

Fantastic support!

Kerry Berry, Director, S&K Berry Associates LLP

Lynn has been a fantastic support to us and an ongoing fountain of knowledge. If you have a business and/or staff you need to take care of, you need a Lynn on your team!

Such a detailed process

Sue Ford, Director, Bridge Case Management

Lynn ran a detailed process and I wasn’t allowed to get away with anything – All relevant issues were included and dealt with objectively.

We’ve accomplished a lot!

Joseph Carr, Managing Director, Carrs Pasties

This is an inspiring story and it’s all true. I can’t believe it’s about us! We’ve accomplished a lot over the last 18 months.

Helping us shape the business

Stuart Hill, CEO, WNDirect

Carole has helped me and the business massively and added real value while helping us shape the business.

Vee has now been Albany's HR Director for a year, and has delivered a huge amount for the company

Bertie Kerr, Managing Director, Albany Associates Ltd

Vee started with a baseline study of where we were. She then presented a work plan to deliver over the coming months, and while some priorities have changed it is impressive to look back and see how much has been achieved. She has become a trusted member of the senior team, providing advice and guidance on difficult topics, and is regularly consulted by the staff for her input.

Alison joined Valleys to Coast in March 2019 on an interim basis and 18 months later is still with us!!

Joanne Oak, Chief Executive Officer, Valleys to Coast Housing

Alison has been instrumental working with me to recruit to a permanent role. Alison’s approach has been one of partnership, contributing as part of the strategic leadership team, which has been critically important given the turbulence the organisation has been through. Alison is always available, responsive and I would highly recommend her from expert HR support to

Over the last 3 years, People Puzzles has helped build a very strong people culture at the RVT Group

Phil Dupont, Director, RVT Group

We now have a clear Vision for the Companies 5 Pillars, In-house manager, leadership ‘Power 90’ Training and a rhythm of key meetings throughout each year. This has had a direct contribution to the significant growth of the company in the last 3 years… With this support from People Puzzles continuing, the company continues to grow both financially and culturally for the benefit of all.

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