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What is an HR Business Partner and What Do They Do?

What is a HRBP? HRBP Job Descriptions and Responsibilities

You’ve probably heard of HR business partners or HRBP. The acronym HR refers to Human Resources, so we can translate the full title as “Human Resources Business Partner.”

But what does it really mean to be an HRBP? What criteria should a company assess when hiring an HRBP? What roles are you expected to perform as an HRBP? This blog will answer these questions below.

What is a human resources business partner?

An HRBP is a professional in the HR division, typically someone who has a lot of experience in the human resources field and works closely with senior management to support organizational goals. 

The HRBP, responsible for aligning business goals with management and employees, acts as the intermediary between HR and the business. They advise and support senior management on strategic issues and help them implement streamlined and integrated HR practices. 

Role of Human Resource Business Partner

The term Human Resources Business Partner was introduced by Dave Ulrich more than 40 years ago, in 1977, in his book “Human Resources Champions” where he explains the four famous roles in the human resource management model that are used as a foundation by many companies today, and these roles are:

  1. Admin Expert: It consists of managing costs, people, and overall delivery of the day-to-day operational output. This role focuses on process efficiency, which could be supported by technology and outsourcing.
  2. Employee Champion: It consists of taking care of the interest of the employees and supporting them through processes and practicalities that ensure safeguarding. This requires the HRBP to be attentive to how employees feel at work and their well being.
  3. Change Agent: It consists of initiating, managing, and supporting the change and transition of the business from an HR point of view. As an HRBP, you need to be aware of the changes in the business and ensure the human capital capacity for these changes.  
  4. Strategic Partner: It consists of aligning the HR activities and initiatives with the company’s business strategy. In order to generate appropriate solutions as an HRBP, you need to have a good understanding of how the business operates and envisions itself to be.

Of course, companies do not always follow this exact model, in fact some of them use this as a foundation and build on it in a way that works for their business needs. When using this model, it is important to have a balance of the four roles as an HRBP to ensure the success of the whole HR function. 

Prerequisites to be Human Resource Business Partner

When hiring an HRBP, doubts may arise about how to evaluate the profile of each candidate. Below we list a series of minimum requirements that every HRBP should meet to be able to perform quality work:

  • Have knowledge and experience in everything related to the business and culture. For example, if you do not know how a multinational company works and the dynamics in one, you might not be able to work as effectively as someone who is experienced in the industry. The more business areas you master, the more possibilities and flexibility you can offer to any potential employer.
  • Have strong analytical skills. Since each company has different processes and systems, the HRBP must be able to understand and analyze different business operations and design different yet effective action plans from the HR perspective. Let’s not forget that what is effective for one company may not be effective for another, so no HRBP can apply a plan drawn up in advance.
  • Strategic thinking. HRBPs with good strategic skills can draw up much more thorough and practical action plans. This is imperative as the strategies are needed for a company to achieve their organizational goals.
  • Show a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy. Everything related to emotions and relationships is indispensable for a professional whose primary object of work is people. That is why the HRBP must show both strong intrapersonal intelligence (understand and work with oneself) and interpersonal intelligence (understand and work with others).

A company that wants to hire a qualified HRBP must evaluate at least these aspects in all potential candidates. There might be more criteria to look at based on your needs for the HRBP role, but make sure to understand the requirements before looking for the right candidate. 

HRBP vs. HRGA

As a role that requires an experienced professional, some may confuse the HRBP with HRGA. The roles are quite different, as they represent two different functions in HR. While the HRGA is responsible for most administrative tasks in HR, the HRBP ideally does not have any administrative responsibility, or very miniscule. 

The HRBP is responsible for guiding and communicating the business strategy to HR. They usually work with HR to develop strategies that address issues and support the company goals.

Meanwhile, the HRGA oversees the administration in the HR division focusing on the proper development of policies and procedures as well as process systems such as recruiting, hiring, payroll processing, and much more.

The HRGA performs and manages the employee and HR administration processes, while the HRBP takes care of bringing out the full potential of the workforce through innovation, development, and training for continuous growth.

Conclusion

The HR department needs to evolve and adapt to constant change. For this, the HR division must collaborate closely with the HRBP to develop and implement processes and strategies that are aligned with organizational goals.

With this challenge in mind, it is essential to find and hire HRBPs who are fit and qualified for the role. This goes back to your company’s way of recruiting and processes you have in place. You want one that is time and cost efficient, and using Shortlyst will certainly help.

Shortlyst has 600 million professional profiles that can be easily accessed through collaborative features. Companies can also utilize this AI-based talent search engine to simplify the process of hiring the best talents. Afterall, it only costs ~30% of other talent solutions in the market.

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