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What Is an HR Business Partner? Key Roles and Duties

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the diverse roles within HR that can help your company thrive. One way to diversify your HR department is by hiring an HR business partner who can give you the help your business needs in a variety of areas. Read further to learn more about HRBP and their main roles, responsibilities and qualifications, and the benefits of hiring one for your business.

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What is an HR business partner?

A human resource business partner is an HR professional who uses their experience to help companies and their leadership teams create or evolve their HR departments. The goal of this strategic role is to connect the people-focused side of HR with the business side of running a company to help you reach your goals and objectives. HR business partners are often heavily involved in decision-making processes and work closely with managers to support all HR activities. They may coach and mentor many employees in your organization, but they don’t directly supervise staff members.

HR business partners’ main roles, responsibilities and duties

HR business partners embrace a strategic role within your company, focusing on the big picture and the broad role of HR rather than the details. This person looks at the overall goals of the organization and its leadership to shape HR policies and procedures to help reach the desired outcomes. They may take on a variety of roles and responsibilities to help your company achieve your HR and business objectives.

Here are some examples of HR business partner roles and responsibilities:

  • Work with a company’s upper management to determine their current HR needs.
  • Work closely with the HR and recruitment teams to help implement goals set by upper management.
  • Create strategic ways to improve the relationship between the company’s leadership and its employees.
  • Monitor the budget for the HR department and allocate funds when necessary.
  • Evaluate the company’s current departments and roles before comparing them to the company’s goals and objectives.
  • Work with recruitment professionals to identify necessary roles for growth within the company.
  • Help oversee and create job descriptions to attract candidates.
  • Participate in the candidate screening and job interviewing processes to ensure new hires align with upper management’s goals.
  • Draft new HR policies in accordance with organizational goals, industry trends and labor laws or regulations.
  • Stay current on HR trends to develop solutions using current best practices in the field.
  • Ensure a strong understanding of laws and regulations to help the company stay in compliance.

HR business partner qualifications and requirements

To hire the right HR business partner for your company, you need to know their background and qualifications. Since they can play a large role in your overall strategic plans, they should have extensive experience. Here’s a list of qualifications that HR business partners typically need:

Bachelor’s degree in a related area

To qualify for an HR business partner position, candidates should hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a related area. Look for candidates with a degree in HR, business, communications or business relations. Having a master’s degree in a related field is even better.

Work experience in HR

Before becoming an HR business partner, candidates should complete several years of work experience in a related role. It’s common to expect an HR partner to have 10 years or more experience in human resources or business. This typically helps them achieve a foundational understanding of HR, its related departments and strategic practices. Seek candidates who have previous work experience as HR specialists, generalists or managers.

Optional certifications

Look for candidates who strive to stay up-to-date on HR trends and labor laws by obtaining industry certifications. Having one or more certifications could indicate that they’re dedicated and knowledgeable about the industry. Seek out people who completed courses in HR business partner relations, HR policy and talent acquisitions.

Importance of hiring an HR business partner

An HR business partner can provide several benefits to your business, including the following:

  • Reviving or reforming the talent acquisitions team: HRBPs can help revamp your talent acquisition team practices and overall goals. They can provide educational expertise on how to attract top-tier talent to your business and offer strategic insights on how to narrow down a group of applicants.
  • Providing education for the HR department: With previous experience in the department, HR business partners typically have a wide range of knowledge to offer your HR employees. They can help your team discover new ways to engage your existing workforce and enforce company objectives in a way that motivates employees.
  • Ensuring new hires align with business objectives: HR business partners have a role in the hiring process and can use their knowledge of your business goals to help remind the hiring team about what type of candidate they should be looking for.
  • Substituting for absent roles in HR and recruitment: If you operate a small- or medium-sized business, you might not have all key positions within HR. An HR partner can take on one or more roles in human resources, talent acquisition or recruitment.
  • Creating organized planning: HR business partners can create a structured framework for your HR department, which may bring more order to how you run things and make decisions. This can improve overall efficiency and consistency.
  • Introducing new perspectives: An HR expert can give your company a different perspective on the HR industry as a whole. They can offer insight into the latest trends and best practices, which can modernize your operations. This can give you the advantage over your competition.

HR business partner FAQs

What is the difference between an HR manager and an HR business partner?

The difference between an HR manager and a business HR partner lies in the scope of their job responsibilities and their relationship to a company. An HR business partner is typically an external position and a company and its upper management are their clients. They typically help oversee the implementation of an HR department or specific initiatives within an organization. In contrast, an HR manager is an internal position in a company that’s responsible for overseeing the HR department and its employees.

How much does an HR business partner earn?

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a human resources business partner is $79,653 per year. This estimate could change depending on the professional’s level of experience, areas of specialty or the location they work in.

What are the characteristics of a great HR business partner?

An outstanding HR business partner can typically bring a mix of hard and soft skills to your small business, including:

  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Active listening skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Honesty
  • Analytical and strategic thinking skills
  • Talent acquisition knowledge
  • Business competency
  • Strong sense of cultural awareness
  • Ability to plan and manage change within the organization
  • Strong relationship-building skills
  • Ability to coach managers
  • Data-driven approach

How do you interview an HR business partner?

Review their resume, cover letter, client testimonials and other materials ahead of the interview. This can help you generate potential topics of conversation and questions to ask. Also, make sure you ask HR business partner interview questions that provoke insightful answers. You can do this by using the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. This methodology requires the candidate to describe a specific instance (situation), steps they took (task), how they handled it (action) and the outcome (result). By asking questions that evoke a specific example from the candidate, you can elicit this response. Here are some examples of STAR-type interview questions:

  • “Share an example that highlights your ability to find worthy job candidates. How did you ensure that they fit your client’s overall business objectives?”
  • “Tell me about a time you worked with a company to improve its organizational culture. What initiatives did you use to improve it? How did you measure your success?”
  • “What is an example of the largest corporation you worked with? How many personnel were employed there?”
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