HR is known to be the guardian of a company’s most important resource: Employees.
HR is the first point of contact for employees in times of crisis. It takes care of everything from people management, recruitment to ensuring compliance with employment laws and policies.
However, the role of HR has evolved over time. Instead of just having HR professionals fulfill administrative roles, HR business partners have taken over the more strategic role in a company.
If you’re looking forward to advancing in your career as an HR business partner, this article will take you through the roles, responsibilities, and skills required for this position.
What Is an HR Business Partner?
An HR business partner is an experienced HR professional who works with the company’s senior leadership. An HRBP takes up the strategic role and works directly with the company’s C-suite to devise HR strategies that support organizational goals. Moreover, the HRBP works with different business units to formulate a plan that answers the following:
- What types of candidates to recruit will best suit the unit’s needs?
- What new skill sets are required to perform in a business unit?
- Does the unit require workforce diversity?
- What kind of questions to ask in an interview for a certain role?
Because an HRBP works closely with the top leadership of a business, their roles are often confused with that of an HR manager. Although both are experienced in the field of HR, their roles differ in nature and magnitude. How?
HR Business Partner vs HR Manager
An HR manager and an HRBP have separate roles and conduct HR services differently within a company.
An HR manager looks over the entire HR department and has people working under them. They take over administrative roles such as recruitment, time tracking, record keeping, and HR compliance.
An HR business partner on the other hand has a more collaborative role. They work with the top executives of the company to fulfill the larger goals of the organization. They, in liaison with business units, develop HR plans and policies that leave a greater impact on the organization.
HRBP-a Strategic Business Partner
What does it actually mean to be a strategic partner? It is an individual who is involved in discussions about a company’s mission, long-term goals, and overall strategy. Although not a part of the c-suite or top management, yet an HR business partner’s opinions and ideas are valued and listened to.
As a strategic partner, an HRBP offers advice, consultation, and recommendation to meet a business’s goals. They are required to have both hard and soft skills to be able to articulate solutions.
What Does an HR Business Partner Do?
Now that you have an idea of what an HRBP is and how their role differs from that of a manager, let’s move on to some more details about their role.
An HRBP Job Responsibilities
An HRBP does not carry out daily operational and transactional activities. Instead, they work on the big picture of the organization. They act as advisers and consultants to the top management on pressing issues about HR and organizational goals.
Because human resources business partners have to accomplish the long-term goals of a business, they need to have a piece of sound business knowledge and familiarity with business jargon.
Below are a few core responsibilities of an HRBP which when fulfilled, add value to an organization:
- Work with top leadership and C-suite to determine the company’s needs and collaborate with internal and external recruiters to find the best possible candidates.
- Coordinate with in-line managers to understand the needs, processes, and products of a particular business unit.
- Analyze a company’s current departments and roles and check if they are in congruence with the company’s business strategy.
- Identify new roles or existing roles within a business unit that can be fulfilled.
- Lead the hiring process for high-priority roles by creating job descriptions, screening potential candidates, and conducting interviews.
- Monitor HR budget and implement any necessary changes such as revising the salary structure of high-priority roles.
- Ensure that HR policy is in line with labor laws, industry trends, and organizational goals and draft new ones in case of any changes.
- Develop employee training and coaching programs to ensure their knowledge and skillsets are up to date with changing needs of the business units and market.
An HRBP Performance Objectives
Why does an HRBP do what it does? This may sound odd but you need to understand the bigger picture.
An HR business partner is mandated to have a helicopter view of what happens in a company or a particular business unit. The idea behind fulfilling the list of responsibilities mentioned above is to achieve the following objectives:
Talent acquisition and retention: Although any business partner is not entitled to carry out day-to-day hiring, they are obligated to identify the need for a diverse and skilled workforce as per the need of the company.
Their work doesn’t stop here. The HRBP also has to develop employee retention plans to achieve the bigger goals of the company.
Talent development: The HRBP should take initiatives to invest in employees’ training and mentoring. It is one of the ways of retaining employees and promoting internal mobility.
Performance management: An HR business partner designs its compensation and performance management processes in a way that aligns well with organizational goals. The aim is to identify bottlenecks if any and maximize employee performance.
Organizational excellence: The need to conduct all the core responsibilities stems down to achieving organizational efficiency.
Key Skills of an HR Business Partner
Human resource business partnership is about developing and maintaining strategic relationships with top leadership, business units, and employees. An HRBP aligns the HR function with the business goals and fills gaps in between if any.
Some key skills for a successful HR business partner to acquire and hone are as follows:
Problem-solving and Analysis
An HRBP must be vigilant enough to resolve any issue that comes up. But before that, they should be able to study the problem thoroughly and hold discussions with top executives before driving any solution.
An HRBP is expected to communicate with people in and out of the organization. It is important to build lasting relationships.
Verbal and Non-Vverbal Communication
Communication is the key to conduct business and make decisions. Therefore, it is vital to understand both verbal and non-verbal cues of the people you work with.
Proficiency With Digital Tools
This is one of the important skills to have. An HR business partner must be able to use digital tools to read and analyze data to incorporate results when developing workforce strategies.
Because an HRBP has a more strategic role to play, it must have the ability to deal with several projects at the same time.
When you have several projects to work on, you have to meet deadlines. An HRBP should be able to prioritize work and manage accordingly.
Attention to Detail
When working on a big picture, you have to be extra careful about the details. An HRBP works with higher management and business units every day, hence it is important to understand and analyze in-depth before making decisions.
Ability to Learn and Comprehend Business Knowledge
HRBPs must be aware of business jargon. For that, they must interact with line managers to understand the product, its complexity, and requirements in a better way.
What Interview Questions Should an HRBP Partner Expect?
Working within the capacity of an HR business partner, you will have to meet the heads of different departments such as sales, marketing, legal, or finance on an ongoing basis. Your position will require you to understand the functions of each department and then translate them into an effective strategy. It may mean hiring new people, adding a new skill set, self-creating job descriptions, or revising salary structures.
An interview is the first face-to-face interaction you will have with your employer. You would want it to be a good one. We have collected some important questions that you might face in an interview.
- If hired for this position, what is the first thing you will do as an HR business partner?
- Share your biggest challenge in the field of HR and how did you overcome it?
- How do you intend to boost employee productivity and retention?
- Can you please throw some light on how you will align your hiring strategy with business goals?
- How important is it to improve a company’s culture? Share any past experiences in terms of what initiatives you took and how successful you were.
- Should HR business partners participate in employee training? If yes, why and how should they contribute?
- What do you do when you feel overwhelmed with work?
- Tell me about a time when you had several deadlines and how were you able to meet those?
- If you were to implement a new HR policy, how will you go about convincing the top management?
Being an HR professional, you will have an answer to most of these questions given your knowledge and experience. But just having an answer will not crack the deal, you should have insightful answers.
Needless to say, most interviews are usually based on a STAR technique. It is always a good idea to prepare beforehand and go through relevant job descriptions.
An HR Business Consultant Creates Optimal Value for the Business
An HR as a business partner contributes proactively to a business. The long-term goal of any business is to attract more customers, establish profitable relationships with key stakeholders, retain employees and increase revenue generation streams.
An HR business partner poses several benefits to an organization:
- Reform talent acquisition teams: A wealth of knowledge and eons of experience enable HR consultants to provide educational expertise on attracting, screening, recruiting, and retaining the best talent. They provide strategic insights on revamping talent acquisition teams.
- Provide mentorship to the HR professionals: Because HR business partners have been in the field for a long period, they are knowledgeable enough to help HR discover new ways of engaging and training employees.
- Stimulate internal mobility within an organization: The concept of HR business partnership originated to help top leadership devise strategies and take strategic decisions. This has made it easier for HR business partners to move to C-suite level positions such as CEO or vice president.
- Incorporate diversity within the HR department: An HR business advisor can change recruitment strategies by deploying people from different backgrounds such as sales, engineering, marketing, or finance in HR positions. This can serve as training for the role of HRBP in the future.
HR Business Partner Salary
If you’re anticipating a career in an HR business partnership, then salary information would hold significant value.
An HRBP has a wide array of tasks and responsibilities. In fact, the role has evolved to be more strategic involving a great deal of critical thinking, decision making, and problem-solving.
Although the functions of this position are more or less consistent across different countries, the pay scale varies. The table below demonstrates HR business partner annual salaries for some of the countries.
|Europe||€67,051 – €73,106|
|India||₹ 1 Million|
HRBP-a Challenging but Rewarding Role
With increased digitization and constant innovations in technology, an HR business partner needs to be familiar with digital tools. An HRBP’s role is becoming more strategic where the HR business consultant thinks strategically, plans ahead of time, understands the various business functions, and devises the strategy accordingly. It has also reduced the stress on the company’s executives as now most of the work is done jointly.
An HRBP needs to stay abreast with the new developments taking place within an organization and business unit and must make a consistent effort to continuously learn, evolve, and bring about change for the better.