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HR Business Partner: Meaning & Responsibilities

30 Jul 2021

Employees having a laugh together

The significance of Human Resources teams has changed as many companies begin to capitalize on their company experience as well as their workers. And while titles like Head of People and Chief People Officer are trending, the role of Human Resource Business Partner is also becoming more vital. So, how does HRBP play a significant role in enhancing employee experience and business outcomes? And what do they do?

The following article will cover everything you need to know about HRBP, from the meaning, responsibilities, the main difference between HRBP and HR manager and how you can shift from HR administrator to HRBP.

What is an HRBP?

The term HRBP stands for Human Resource Business Partner. HRBP are human resource experts whose primary role is to partner closely with a company’s senior leadership to enhance an effective human resource plan. This agenda should then be used to support the company’s overall goals. In addition, HRBP is also known as alignment.

The process might entail the HRBP working closely with the company board of directors or even being present in board meetings. Besides, HRBPs are the most senior people in human resources. The HRBP role is to deliver information to hr leaders routinely.

Nowadays, HRBPs take on a new outlook in the current market landscape for people teams. They need to establish and build relationships and are also given a chance to take a counseling approach to human resources.

For instance, an employee can come to an HR team when they need something; however, the key is to identify what they need. Therefore, an HRBP can guide them and, more essentially, help a company improve and engage their talent.

An HRBP can also be a strategic partner. A strategic business partner is a leader who is included in all conversations about the company's business objectives, future, and overall hr strategy. However, you must have some skills to become a strategic HR business partner.

What makes a strong Human Resources Business Partner?

The role of the HRBP is now more significant than ever, and there are many demands to improve its value. Also, many business partners are coming to terms with the fact that they can make a big difference to their company's profitability by making good use of their people.

However, you cannot become an HRBP in one night; becoming a good and strong human resource business partner requires some skills, benefits and various attitudes. The following are some things you must have to be a successful and strong HR business partner.

Business acumen

Business acumen is a crucial skill that every HR business partner must-have. It represents the enthusiasm and swiftness in understanding and handling business opportunities and risks in a manner that gets you a good outcome.

As an HRBP, you must be able to connect business difficulties to HR activities and outcomes to help a company tackle every challenge it faces. Also, you must be well aware of your company’s market value, unique selling point, sources of competitive advantage, development, and market share.

Besides, you should understand the role of technology and have a good knowledge of all the relevant stakeholders. Also, business acumen means understanding the effects of the recent economic and financial news on a company.

HR Metrics experience

Almost every time, you will be asked to show your HR worth using metrics. Therefore, it is even more essential to have HR metric experience. While there are many metric numbers to track, you might feel that there are no metrics to show your work; however, HR business partner metrics are a hard place to get stuck.

It is crucial to keep in mind that the metrics are what will differentiate you. They could be the main factor that pushes you to critical talent status or helps connect the company to your human resources activities. So, do you know the metrics that you should be tracking? Here are some:

  • Employee engagement
  • Human resource-related goals
  • Inventory or breakdown of your strategic inventiveness
  • Retention rates for your support areas

In addition, it is essential to remember that, unlike the talent acquisition metrics, the above metrics might take some time to group or even track. The good news is, however, that setting them up will not be a continuous pain point.

Excellent communication skills

Communication plays a significant role in business and our daily lives. And communication skills are crucial for every HR business partner. You must be able to communicate your ideas clearly. Besides, what is the use of having excellent ideas if you cannot sell them?

The primary role of an HR business partner is to facilitate communication between a company and its employees. This simply means that you will heavily depend on both oral and written communications skills to get your message delivered through all levels. The communication process will partly involve convincing, negotiating and, more significantly, listening.

Proven experience

Experience is a vital aspect in all HR business partner jobs. However, this will highly depend on the organization and its wants; the experience level can sometimes differ. Most companies require an individual to have an experience of about four years working in a human resources role, and the management and supervisory experience appear to be average.

But, the best way to determine whether you can be a good HR business partner is by reviewing the job description and the list of responsibilities. The familiarity of human resources is critical when it comes to earning the confidence and respect of business leaders, particularly in places where significant changes are expected.

People management skills

This skill is part of human resources management that involves the process of acquiring, optimizing and employee retention. It entails training, directing, and motivating a team to increase their productivity and enhance general specialized growth.

As an HR business partner, you must be able to oversee the flow of responsibilities and increase the workers' performance on an everyday basis. Performance management looks into how employees do their jobs, behave, engage and achieve their growth in the organization. As the HR business partner, it will be your job to offer continuous support and show how employees can succeed.

An effective people management skill involves the following practices:

  • Compensation
  • Recruitment
  • Communication
  • Training
  • Employee engagement
  • Performance management
  • Wellness and safety
  • Employee benefits

Ability to maintain confidentiality

Leaders need to trust HR business partners with sensitive information, just like other workers can trust HR managers with their sensitive data. Business managers should be able to trust you with sensitive information about all the business operations or even the company's economic performance.

The leaders have to be comfortable enough to share confidential data for strategic planning purposes while, on the other hand, knowing they won’t adversely affect their job performance.

Strategic planning

This is the most vital element that an HR business partner must have. This is because they can sit on a board of directors meeting or even connect with C-level officials in one way or another. And because HRBPs are experts in the HR field, they are usually responsible for pushing the notion that the success of an organization starts with individuals to the administrators.

What is the difference between an HR Business Partner and an HR Manager?

Now, more than ever, the role of the HR business partner is significant, and there is more need for HR to add value. It is also important to note that although they are all vital positions for a company’s requirement of human resources services, an HR manager and HR business partner are two different roles and show two diverse models of accomplishing HR services within a company. 

Also, the lack of a governing body to police human resource titles has led many companies to use these titles interchangeably. So, let’s first look at the comparisons between the HRBP and HR manager. First, they are both on the senior side of the human resource populace. Besides, effective HRBP and HR managers have ten or more years of experience in the human resource field.

Also, there are some significant differences when it comes to daily work. An HR manager has managerial responsibilities since they manage an HR department and have people functioning for them. An HR manager also has the role of recruiting, payroll administration and management reports.

On the other hand, a Human resources business partner has zero management roles. Instead, they are people providers that directly support the company or company roles. HRBPs operate as advisors and should never be hooked on managerial functions or strategic roles.

Sometimes, however, the two roles can overlap; for example, some small companies might have one or two HR individuals that manage all HR elements, from strategic to administrative ones; in short, they can be HR generalists. An HRBP works closely with senior leaders rather than employees. And on the other hand, an HR manager works closely with employees. HRBPs are likely to train senior leadership on working or interacting with their team in one piece.

HR Business Partner’s 5 Core Tasks

Human resource business partners are experienced hr professionals who function directly with a business’s senior leadership to establish and apply an HR plan that matches the company’s goals. HR business partners have various tasks, for instance:

Succession planning

Also known as replacement planning, succession planning is the business strategy for handing over management roles, usually the ownership of an organization, to a single worker or even a group of employees. This process makes sure that the business is still run efficiently even after a company’s most influential people move on to new workplaces, pass away or retire.

As an HRBP, you will be executing a competency-based talent supervision program to evaluate individual skills and offer company succession plans.  You will also be partnering with senior management on talent evaluation to analyze and pinpoint high prospective talent.


Diversity is the distinction of individuals with various diversities like diverse genders, ethnicities, races, ages, sexual orientation, social class, and mental and physical capabilities. As an HRBP, you will be tasked with steering diversity and cross-cultural training for associates and hr leaders to increase cultural mindfulness.

You will also be tasked with evaluating and overhauling international compensation programs by integrating reviewed job descriptions, salary appraisals, diversity plans, and workforce planning.

Company development

An HRBP is tasked with leading company wide business development and designing and implementing all the organization's development strategies.


You will also be tasked with all the HR functions; you will be monitoring all the HR organization performance against customer expectations and plan for course correction as needed. You will also be delegating tasks with other HRBPs and consultants to align the company with a new HR model.

Business leaders

An HRBP will work with leaders in benefits administration, employee investigation and employee relations, compensation laws and regulatory compliance. You will also be partnering with other business leaders to establish company structures, enhanced comprehensive processes, and apply compliant HR and operational frameworks.

How Can You Shift From HR Administrator to Business Partner?

Human resource business partner jobs might be different depending on the organization; however, there are various skills you must have to become one. There are almost six crucial skills you must have to become an excellent HRBP.

You must have a degree-level education in HR or a business-related subject as well as certification. You must also have the needed experience, although this might also vary. But, to ensure that you can be an HRBP, it is essential to review the job description.

Besides, you can become an HRBP by following the career path. This means that you will have to pursue a career progression path. Study business management, financial management and then take human resources courses.

Start by becoming a human resource manager, then the director of human resources, senior human resource manager, human resources lead, and work your way up the ladder and finally, apply for the HR business partner job.


Most companies are hiring human resource business partners to enhance their HR departments. HRBP works with senior leadership to ensure that a company’s plans for obtaining talent and retaining employees match the overall business goals.

To be a strong HRBP, you must have what it takes to hit a business’s financial as well as operational goals. You must have excellent communication skills, have the needed experience, the ability to maintain privacy and more essentially have people management skills.

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