Editorial

30 Jul 2021

HR Business Partner: Meaning & Responsibilities

Kelsey Kaczynski

The significance of Human Resources teams have changed as many companies begin to capitalize on their company experience as well as their workers.

Every strong company starts with an advanced Human Resources team, they are the backbone of the company responsible for hiring, firing, and attracting new talent.

And while titles like Head of People and Chief People Officer are trending, the role of Human Resources 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?

We’re here to answer those critical questions and demonstrate to you how this position can grow your business.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about HRBP. We'll cover the meaning, core responsibilities, the main difference between HRBP and HR manager, and how you can shift from HR administrator to HRBP.

What is a Human Resource Business Partner?

HRBPs are human resource experts whose primary role is to partner closely with a company’s senior leadership to create an effective human resource plan.

This strategic plan should then be used to support the company’s overall goals. Without a plan, the HR department may not be able to accomplish its goals as easily or understand which direction the company is moving.

A Human Resource business partner is also known as an alignment specialist who focuses on organizational strategy. As strategic business partners, the HRBPs help the business accomplish organizational goals and address strategic issues and business challenges.

The process might entail the HRBP working closely with the company board of directors or being present in board meetings. HRBPs are typically the most senior positions in human resources.

The business partner's roles are to deliver information to senior HR professionals routinely. They act as a direct link between the senior management of a company and the HR department.

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 may come to the human resources department 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.

HR Business Partner responsibilities

Business organizations with a healthy human resources budget and a large team to coordinate between will reap the myriad of benefits of having an HR team member who is responsible for large-scale planning and communicating with the leadership team.

If you want to become an HR business partner, there are a few things you must do to be qualified and able to fulfill the job description.

However, you cannot become an HRBP in one night; becoming a good and strong human resource business partner requires some skills, benefits, and the right attitude. 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 ensures 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 strategic 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

As an HR professional, you will be asked to show your HR department’s worth using metrics. Therefore, it is essential to have HR metric experience.

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 examples to get you started:

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

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 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 required can sometimes differ.

Most companies require an individual to have the experience of about four years working in a human resources role to be considered manager material.

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. You may be able to substitute some experience for additional training or certifications.

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 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 human resources professionals and department 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 business success 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 a need for HR to add more 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. 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 responsibilities. 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 tasks; 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

A human resource business partner is an experienced HR professional who functions directly with a business’s senior leadership to establish and apply an HR plan that matches the company’s goals.

Knowing the responsibilities of a role and the core tasks that this person will be responsible for is a crucial step to understanding and qualifying for this position.

HR business partners have various tasks, but we narrowed it down to the five core tasks you can expect to be responsible for if you fill this role in your department: Succession planning, diversity, community development, HR management, and communications with business leaders.

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 functions are still run efficiently even after a company’s most influential people move on to new workplaces, pass away or retire.

This is crucial to ensuring that there are no major gaps in the internal workflow despite inevitable changes and employee turnover. A certain level of employee turnover is normal, but you should keep an eye on your attrition rate to find and avoid any major structural issues.

HR Business Partner manages core tasks attrition

You will need a deep understanding of the hiring process and department goals for each department across the company. This will require a lot of detailed conversations with department managers and team members.

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

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 management and cross-cultural training for associates and HR leaders to increase cultural mindfulness.

Diversity is important to the health of a business and ensures that you will have a wealth of knowledge and diversity of thought and experience in your organization.

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

The business partner position is tasked with leading company-wide business development and designing and implementing all the organization's development strategies. This strategic position will do a lot of strategizing and analyzing progress.

The HR business partner is responsible for setting and tracking strategic goals for the HR department that align with company goals.

HR Management

You will also be tasked with all the HR functions; you will be monitoring all the HR organization's 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.

Communications With 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 An HR Administrator To Business Partner?

Human resource business partner jobs might be different depending on the organization; however, there are some general skills you must have to become one. Let’s talk about what you can do to become an HR business partner.

You must have a degree-level education in HR or a business-related subject. It is also helpful to obtain various certifications and continue your education after graduating from school and starting at a company.

You must also have the needed experience, although this experience might also vary depending on the position. But, to ensure that you can be an HRBP, it is essential to review the job description.

Don’t just review the job description when you’re ready to be promoted, do it ahead of time so you can work towards being qualified. Do you have everything the job description calls for? What can you improve on? These are essential questions to ask yourself.

And, don’t be afraid to tell your manager that you aspire to be qualified for this position. They may be open to giving you more information and responsibilities that will help you secure the position later in your career.

Likely, when you start out in your Human Resources career, you will have more administrative responsibilities and manual tasks. Over time, as you progress through the company, you will take on more responsibilities like managing other HR employees.

Once you reach an executive position within the HR department, you will be managing your entire HR department and will have much more responsibility and face-to-face interactions with the CEO, CFO, CMO, and other high-level employees.

It is crucial to create a strong working relationship with these executives and establish yourself as an essential part of the team. It is also important to be a good manager to your team.

Employees won’t stay with a company long if they are poorly managed, and this will reflect back on you when it is time to promote you to a more senior leadership position.

HR Business Partner strategy career path

Soon, we will give an example of how you can become an HRBP by following an example career path. But that isn’t the only way, sometimes companies will promote the right person to the position, no matter what their experience level is.

This means that you will have to pursue a career progression path and also show initiative in everything you do in your current role. Ask for more responsibility, study business management, financial management, and take any human resources courses offered to you.

Here is an example of what a career path to becoming an HR business partner from an entry-level HR employee can look like.

Start by getting promoted to being 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.

Once you’re in this position, we’re sure you’ll succeed using the information in this article and your own independent research and training. And it is essential that you do succeed because this is an important position that can ensure long-term success for your company.

Conclusion

Many companies are hiring human resource business partners to enhance their HR departments. Once an HR department has matured and hired multiple members, it makes sense to have a team member responsible for communicating with the higher-ups at your organization.

HRBP is a high-level role that works with senior leadership to ensure that a company’s plans for obtaining talent and retaining employees match the overall business goals.

Aligning the goals of the company with the goals of the HR department is crucial for a healthy growing business. Don’t underestimate how impactful this position can be.

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

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