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HR business partner

A human resources business partner can boost your company's people management, talent development, and business-oriented HR initiatives.

  • Definition

  • Responsibilities

  • Skills

What is an HR business partner?

An HR business partner (HRBP) acts as an advisor on HR-related issues to a company's leaders, department heads, and board of directors. 

HRBPs are integral to the business side of human resources. They generally have experience in the business side of company operations and can apply this perspective to HR issues. They link HR strategies with business objectives, ensuring that the company's HR strategies line up with the overall plans of the company.

HRBPs can be seen as a bridge, or liaison, from HR to the rest of the company with many different responsibilities, including:

  • Organizational development

  • Strategic planning

  • Employee advocacy

  • Development of HR policies to suit various departmental needs

What does a human resources business partner do?

HRBPs have several responsibilities, including:

Strategic planning

HRBPs consult with managers and coach department heads on how to develop HR strategies in their departments. The HRBP can include strategies for talent management, performance management, and compliance, among other areas. 

An HRBP may have experience and skills in business operations such as finance, market trends, legal compliance, management, networking, and other areas. That knowledge can be leveraged when developing HR strategies that line up with the company’s mission, strategic goals, and culture.

Talent management

While HR staff members take care of recruiting talent and conducting interviews to fill specific roles at the company, the HRBP oversees the overall management and recruitment of employees in all departments of the company. 

The HRBP develops recruitment strategies and works closely with the recruiters in the organization to ensure these strategies are working properly. 

These recruitment strategies can include:

  • Workforce planning to make sure critical roles are being filled.

  • Working with recruiters to ensure the company is . 

  • Ensuring job postings are congruent with the employer's brand to attract top talent.

  • Training recruiters to make sure they are interviewing candidates effectively. 

  • Making sure that employees are in the correct roles. 

  • Making sure the right people are getting promoted where there is room for advancement.

Performance management

Similar to talent management, an HRBP’s performance management responsibilities include overseeing employees and their work to ensure performance metrics are being met. 

Performance metrics may differ by department. For example, sales quotas are performance metrics in sales divisions. HRBPs can work with department heads to make sure these metrics are being tracked and changes are made if the metrics are lacking.

HRBPs also work with managers to assist in employee evaluations.

HR data analysis

HRBPs look at various metrics and analyze data to evaluate the effectiveness of HR initiatives. This data analysis can help the company’s management make informed data-driven decisions regarding HR topics. 

Certain metrics can be analyzed, such as retention rates, turnover rates, benefits participation, diversity, recruitment goals, and other key performance indicators (KPIs) to see if the company is meeting its goals in these areas. 

HRBPs can also consult with management regarding this data analysis and advise on any improvements to make. 

Legal compliance

An important responsibility of the HRBP is making sure the company is obeying labor laws. The importance of this role is compounded for globally dispersed companies that may have employees in more than one foreign country. Each of these countries has a unique set of employment laws that must be followed. 

Some examples of labor laws include:

  • Statutory benefits

  • Leave entitlements

  • Minimum wage

  • Social Security or pension contributions

The HRBP can work with department heads to ensure that all of these labor laws are followed, as well as the labor laws of the company’s country.   

Conflict resolution

HR personnel are essential to the organization for their interpersonal skills and their abilities to solve human problems within the organization. The HRBP’s roles in this area are similar, though broader and more encompassing the various departments in the company. 

HR business partners help with training the company’s leadership, as well, as mediating conflicts among management or other employees.

What skills does a human resources business partner need?

HRBPs need to have an array of skills, some of which transcend different areas of a company, including its leadership positions and HR departments. These are some of the skills and qualifications needed for this job:

  • General business acumen

  • Knowledge of market trends

  • Networking abilities

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Knowledge of labor laws

  • Knowledge of corporate laws

  • Strategic leadership

  • Mentoring abilities

  • Project management experience

  • People management talent

  • Benefits administration experience

  • Five years in an HR-related role

  • A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in HR management

Next steps
Planning to hire a HR business partner?
  • Ensure the HRBP is on board with your organization's overall strategy and goals, and possesses a clear understanding of how HR can help achieve them.

  • Look for strong communication and relationship-building skills. HRBPs need to effectively collaborate with both employees and leadership, serving as a bridge between various stakeholders.

  • Seek candidates with analytical skills and a problem-solving mindset. HRBPs often need to analyze data, identify trends, and provide solutions to address workforce challenges.

  • Given their role in organizational development, HRBPs should have experience in change management, helping navigate and support the workforce through periods of transition.

  • Look for individuals with a solid understanding of HR principles and practices combined with a deep understanding of the business. This dual expertise allows HRBPs to align HR strategies with broader organizational objectives.

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