HR business partners (HRBPs) work closely with business leaders and line managers to diagnose people priorities, create people plans, and help implement organisation-wide people approaches. They have an excellent knowledge of the business, a good understanding of all the areas in the people profession, and often act as the point of people expertise for a specific business area.
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 assigned to a particular area of the business (for example, a directorate, or a number of specific teams). They work closely with those business areas and help them 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:
- Work with managers and leaders to inform the people strategy.
- Work with key stakeholders to discuss people challenges.
- Use evidence and data to identify people priorities for the business and address future workforce needs.
- Provide guidance on people practices such as restructures and succession planning.
- Bring people expertise and develop solutions to help the business area to deliver its strategy.
- Influence and build relationships with people around the business.
- Act as a local point of people expertise for specialist teams that are implementing new people approaches.
- Question and challenge others to get to the root of people and business issues.
- Coach and provide feedback to key stakeholders to help improve business efficiency.
CIPD Learning courses in Business Partnering
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