What is a HR Business Partner?

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HR business partners are Human Resources professionals who often work on an interim or consultancy basis, in order to undertake either a specific project for a company, or to offer their advice, support and training capabilities to the HR department over a longer period of time.

In smaller companies who do not have directorship roles, a HR business partner may be brought in to ensure that a certain level of HR experience is available to HR managers and advisors already employed by the business.

If there is a large-scale project such as high-level redundancies, a takeover of the business, or a complete re-evaluation of the company's HR policies and procedures, inexperienced HR managers and advisors may require an experienced HR business partner to coordinate this and ensure its success.

In larger companies, HR business partners may not even need to visit the site in order to perform their functions. Liaising directly with the HR director, they are likely to offer support and advice in the form of conference calls and email communications. In this respect, they can often be viewed as HR service providers, in the form of HR service companies, such as Peninsula.

What does a HR business partner do?

While we have quickly highlighted a few generic examples of what a HR business partner may offer a business, they are also likely to offer the following services:

  • Assistance in developing and implementing an overall HR program across the business
  • Reviewing company policies and procedures for legislative adherence and legal compliance
  • Provide professional guidance to HR advisors, managers and directors when a knowledge or experience gap is present
  • Analyse the effectiveness and success of company training programs, and offer suggestions for future improvements
  • Work across the senior management team in conjunction with the HR manager/director to ensure that all company policies and procedures are implemented effectively across the business
  • Offer advice on HR trends, developments and technological advances in the absence of a HR director to fulfil this task

Who do HR business partners report to?

While HR business partners rarely report directly to an employee of the business, they will most usually have a point of contact within the business to whom they will liaise with in terms of project scope and regular updates.

This is normally the HR manager or director, but in some cases, HR business partners will be asked to work closely with the CEO of the business themselves, particularly on projects with potentially large legal or financial ramifications.

What are the benefits of HR business partners?

In larger companies, the importance of a HR business partner may often be negligible. They will only really be called upon when the company or HR director is experiencing an issue or project outside of their previous experience, such as a takeover of the business or large-scale downsizing.

In smaller companies with no HR director role, they may be brought in to undertake a number of projects either outside the capabilities of the HR department, or as an addition to the department's usual tasks.

They may also be available on a consultancy basis – readily available for managers or advisors to contact for lower-priority advice and support on a daily basis.

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