HR Business Partners (HRBPs) work closely with business leaders and line managers to build their people capability, plan and manage talent and develop approaches that achieve shared organisational objectives. They often act as the point of people expertise for their business area, and may also be the local people expert implementing specific people approaches which have been designed by a central specialist people team or centre of excellence.

What does a HRBP do?

HR Business Partners work with teams, managers and key stakeholders to help build organisation and people capability, and shape and implement effective people strategies and activities within the organisation. They need to have an excellent understanding of the organisation, its strategy and customers, and a very good understanding of the people challenges faced by the organisation.

HRBPs are usually aligned to a particular area of the business (for example, a directorate, or a number of specific teams). They work closely with their business area and help it to implement the business strategy from a people perspective. For example, if the strategy is to drive sales, the HRBP will help the business to create a culture and people approach which will support this. To be successful, they must develop meaningful relationships with key people in their business area, and other people teams in the organisation. Skills in relationship building and influencing are essential. They also need to be able to use data, metrics and evidence to inform and drive decision making and change across their business areas.

The activities of a HRBP will vary depending on the size of the organisation. An HRBP working in an SME may act more like an HR generalist, offering expertise in all people areas, and also doing more operational activity such as dealing with employee relations or policy issues. In a large multinational, HRBPs are more likely to drive people strategy for their business area, alongside teams of specialists (such as experts in talent, culture, L&D – sometimes referred to as ‘centres of excellence’), and operational support teams who deal with the day-to-day issues of things like absence and policy (sometimes referred to as ‘shared services’). An HRBP in a larger organisation will be more focused on enabling business strategy by delivering great people approaches, rather than operational implementation.

Your typical activities

Here are some activities you can expect to be involved in as a HR Business Partner:

  • Meeting key stakeholders to discuss people challenges
  • Providing guidance on people practices such as restructures and succession planning
  • Bringing people expertise and developing solutions to help the business area to deliver its strategy
  • Influencing and building relationships with people around the business
  • Acting as a local point of people expertise for specialist teams that are implementing new people approaches
  • Questioning and challenging others to get to the root of people and business issues
  • Coaching and providing feedback to key stakeholders to help improve business efficiency.

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