Human resources emerged during the last century in response to new government requirements, employment laws, and employer expectations. However, the last century was a long time ago, and business needs have changed. Most HR departments haven’t managed to keep pace. It’s time for HR to transform and refocus and make use of the human resource business partner (HRBP)—a pivotal role in the transformation process.
HRBP: Internal HR Consulting
On one side, you have traditional human resources—a profession focused on recruiting, retention, employee relations, benefits, compensation, and compliance. On the other is the rest of the company, faced with a catalog of challenges such as emerging technologies, data security, skill shortages, and intense competition, as well as policy and political changes.
The pressure is on for HR professionals to drive business performance with solutions that support operational requirements and staffing needs, but too often they aren’t even invited to the table. To make a measurable difference, HR needs to integrate more deeply into the organization, which is where the human resource business partner steps in.
The HRBP is an internal consulting role that embeds HR into the overall business strategy. The business partner works in close collaboration with the senior leadership team to build relationships and support organizational initiatives, becoming a trusted advisor who understands the best moves for long-term business success.
Transforming the HR Department
As HR’s responsibilities and potential for influence grow, the HRBP is becoming a critical role in today’s business landscape. How does an HRBP fit into the HR department’s hierarchy?
HR coordinators hold the most traditional positions and keep various processes in order, such as filing and maintaining performance reviews, managing interviews, and onboarding new staff. They may also be responsible for internal communication, like employee newsletters, or act as social coordinators.
HR specialists are seasoned administrators who are typically more involved with new employee orientation, training, and interview screenings. They may have a rudimentary understanding of employment law.
HR managers are generalists who tend to do a little bit of everything: Payroll, budgeting, compensation, recruitment, compliance, and specific employee relations issues. They have a more direct approach than coordinators or specialists.
HR directors typically oversee several HR teams or a region. They often play a prominent and strategic role in annual budgeting or large-scale software purchases and are focused on driving organization-wide results.
An HR business partner works alongside this hierarchy, but they’re also somewhat more independent. A successful HRBP is a senior HR professional with a thorough understanding of their field and the organization; instead of compliance or admin, their focus is on results.
An HRBP links HR to the rest of the company; they consult across silos to learn about goals and objectives in each department. They take ownership of business results and maximize the effects human assets have on them. As highlighted by Deloitte, this “high-impact HR” offers tangible benefits to organizational performance so a company can:
- Adapt to market changes more rapidly
- Create new products and services more quickly
- Maximize the efficiency of processes to increase overall performance
- Minimize operating costs
- Defeat competitors in their market
- Improve response time to customer needs and inquiries
By keeping a closer connection between business needs and HR activity, an HRBP helps align business strategy with strategic human resource management. This helps other HR professionals adapt to shifting marketplace environments with greater efficiency and measurable results.
HRBPs Give HR the Greatest Positive Impact
Companies that embed human resources into their business will see increased overall performance: Stronger HR lets companies adapt to shifting customer demands and marketplace trends more quickly and with greater impact.
By entrenching HR expertise in strategic decisions, human resources can be used more efficiently, which helps keep operating costs to a minimum. It also provides deeper insights that can in turn increase retention and improve both productivity and morale.
Leveraging the expertise of an HR business partner gives businesses incredible opportunities to expand their reach and serve their customers. By playing a critical role in the way companies pursue their mission and get results, HRBPs are changing the way the business world views HR.