ADVO Group interviews Rachel Barratt, HR Elite


HR Elite was established in November 2010 by Rachel Barratt. Rachel has more than twenty years experience of working in human resources with most of her experience coming from working within the NHS where she left as the Head of HR, working at Board level with Executive and Senior Directors. In this interview, Rachel discusses the key HR issues her consultancy commonly faces and the key trends and developments the industry as a whole has gone through.

What led you to establish HR Elite?

At the beginning of 2010 I decided to take a career break so I could spend some time with my two daughters. It was during this time that I noticed a gap in the market for offering HR support for small to medium sized businesses, locally, who were without in-house HR teams. Later on that year I decided to set up my own consultancy.

What have been some of the key developments for the consultancy during this period?

HR Elite has gone from strength to strength leading to it becoming a limited company three years ago. Since then, we have also expanded to deliver health & safety services to local businesses and have also increased our number of offices.

What is it that makes HR Elite unique?

We are really able to build strong relationships with our clients, providing a truly personal approach. Our consultants are able to get to know the businesses they work with, the core buisiness values, and the people within those organisations.

What does the team most commonly work on at HR Elite?

We spend a significant proportion of time advising managers on performance issues; assisting in improving employee performance and, if necessary, advising on compliant exit processes for under-performing staff. We have also become increasingly involved in helping companies find the right employee benefit scheme.

What do you think have been some of the key HR issues and trends to have recently emerged?

The need for an employee benefits scheme has significantly increased. This correlates in-line with a general rise in employment levels as companies aim to attract the best possible candidates. Organisations are now finding they have to offer a great all-round package, which can no longer just involve a great salary.

Companies also generally appear to be are much more aware about the support they should be giving their staff. Attributes of wellbeing, health, and fitness are all high up on the agenda, and a model employer will recognise that healthy and content employees will equate to a more productive overall workforce.

What do you think are some of the more general changes the HR and/or health insurance industries have gone through?

Health insurance was once often regarded as a benefit almost exclusive to larger businesses, but that has definitely changed. There are now a lot of providers offering great private medical insurance schemes to the smaller employer; some with excellent employee assistance programmes (EAP). This change within the industry has provided smaller employers with an excellent opportunity to set themselves apart. Offering benefits such as this not only supports the employee in times of poor health but can also be used effectively as a preventative measure.

How central do you see health insurance as an employee benefit in the human resource industry?

I believe that getting the right health insurance scheme set up for your staff provides a fantastic opportunity to have that competitive edge when recruiting the best candidates. Having the right scheme in place will support employees’ wellbeing and provide them with assistance on those occasions when some may need help from specialist health practitioners. Simple, effective schemes will pro-actively support staff wellbeing and hopefully prevent illnesses, which lead to absence. Additionally, when staff members do fall ill, having effective health insurance in place will mean a quicker return to work.

For more information on HR Elite visit