A previous study by Michael Page’s Global HR Barometer identified human resources (HR) was undergoing a radical change: moving from being viewed as an administrative function to being a significant strategic business partner.

In 2019, this rings more true than ever before.

With unemployment rates at 5.2% and the average Australian expected to switch jobs 17 times across their career lifespan, HR is key for any organisation looking to win the talent race. No longer on the sidelines, the role of the HR business partner (HRBP) is at the forefront of business growth and transformation.

Read on to explore the HR business partner model in today’s organisations, and the key do’s and don’ts for a modern HRBP to deliver value in their role today.

What is a HR business partner?

As one of the most in-demand roles in the HR field, the HRBP is expected to deliver strategic talent acquisition plans, employee development strategies and HR policies to fuel an organisation’s business strategy. Almost two-thirds of senior HR leaders report directly to the CFO/CEO/General Director/Managing Director of a company, and 80% of HR leaders have strategically significant responsibilities within a company.

Today’s HRBPs operate in a generalist capacity and serve as a business leader to internal line partners. Taking into account a company or department’s financial, operational, and strategic objectives, HRBPs are expected to better align HR practices with business needs.

As a HRBP, do:

  • Develop business fluency. HRBPs need to always consider the key strategic objectives of the business, from top line to the company vision, in order to better align HR practices to meet these needs.
  • Focus on understanding different departments. According to Gill Brudno from the Human Capital Institute: “HRBPs should obtain the full visibility and involvement in their organisations, regardless of hierarchical structures. HRBPs should act as role models of human touch and interact directly with people at all levels.”
  • Gain skills in HR change management. This was identified as one of three trending skills in the HR field, according to the Michael Page Salary Guide 2019. With new technologies and business practices changing all facets of business, you are integral to the effective management of the transition.
  • Harness technology and digital systems. Another trending skill, the strategic use of technology can boost the value HRBPs add. You should embrace digital systems and people management platforms to streamline HR processes, and leverage data to optimise talent recruitment, engagement and performance within a company.
  • Drive talent initiatives to deliver business value. The role of an HRBP isn’t to put out fires — it’s to deliver outcomes and drive value for an organisation through HR. With an overarching perspective of business needs, HRBPs should actively propose solutions that could benefit the business.

As a HRBP, don’t:

  • Get dragged into operational responsibilities. The role of an HRBP is to serve as a strategic consultant and partner to internal stakeholders — not to do paperwork or focus on admin tasks.
  • Overlook core HR skills. Although HRBPs serve in a generalist function, it’s essential to have a strong understanding of leadership, development, remuneration, workplace legislation and compliance, insurance, WHS and employee relations.
  • Forget about Workplace, Health and Safety (WHS). Understanding WHS is one of the top trending skills in Australia, and there’s a growing demand for dual HR and safety roles in the industrial landscape. At the very least, HRBPs need to have a good grasp of WHS principles and how they affect a company’s HR policies and operational practices.

If you’re searching for a new position as a HR business partner, explore our current roles here.

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