Virtual HR Director service

Our Virtual HR Director service provides friendly HR expertise to small to medium-sized organisations for three days per month, perfect for those that need support with challenging or complex HR issues but can’t afford their own HR Director. 

Contact us to talk about how we can help you develop your HR strategy.


  • Free up time for the CEO and senior managers instead of getting dragged into reactive, complex HR issues. 

  • Specialist and qualified HR advice direct from an experienced professional who will take the time to understand your organisation's context and values.

  • Take a more proactive and strategic approach to the development of people and culture.

  • Build the capacity and capability of your internal HR resource.

  • Peace of mind of qualified and pragmatic advice when tackling challenging and tricky HR issues.

What is included?

  • 3 days work per month to lead on key projects and stakeholder engagement, combining both onsite visits and remote work.

  • Regular business partner calls with CEO or a senior manager.

  • Coaching and mentoring for your in-house HR coordinator or manager to support them in delivering your people strategy, increasing their effectiveness and developing their knowledge skills.

  • Email and telephone support on any casework and key HR issues that arise.

An award-winning service


We were delighted to win the 2019 CIPD People Management Award for Best HR/Learning & Development Consultancy for our work with Durham Students’ Union who used our virtual HR Director service.


The panel of expert judges were very impressed by the students’ union speaking so enthusiastically about us and how genuine the relationship felt.


We're a small business, working with charities, so this was a great achievement for us and shows the need for high quality HR support in small to medium sized organisations.

Graham Atkinson, Laura Atkinson, Jeremy Vine at the CIPD Awards

Case study: Durham Students' Union

Durham SU

Durham Students’ Union represents 18,700 students at Durham University and had undergone a turbulent period of change over the last decade which left staff engagement and morale in need of improvement. Its financial position was unstable and it had been through three significant staffing restructures in the space of five years.  A new Chief Executive was appointed to lead the turnaround of the organisation, who engaged Atkinson HR Consulting to provide a Virtual HR Director service and bring a more proactive approach to people management and culture.


We worked with senior leaders to develop a new people strategy to sit alongside their new strategic plan.  Employees throughout the Students' Union were actively involved in shaping a vision for the kind of employer that the organisation could be in the future, which we used to create a simple and focused people strategy that was endorsed and agreed upon by colleagues.

Shortly after implementing a new people strategy, overall staff engagement rocketed from 46 per cent to 90 per cent and a large majority of staff (90 per cent) said they believed the organisation cares about its employees – up from just 28 per cent.  Huge improvements were also see in scores for communication, dignity at work and confidence in the organisation's leadership.

As part of Durham SU's new approach to people management and culture, we have since helped them to transform their recruitment and selection processes, implement a new behaviours framework, improve their internal communications and employee voice platforms, create new appraisal and development planning tools, refresh their employee benefits, and develop their leadership team. We're also supporting them in designing a new induction programme and developing their internal learning and development to create a culture of learning.


Gary Hughes, Chief Executive Officer at Durham Students’ Union said, “Working with the Atkinson HR Consulting team has made such a difference to our organisation. Not only are staff more engaged but it’s had a great knock-on effect on other areas of our charity helping us raise more money and achieve a national Quality Students’ Union mark.”