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Hiring Human Resource Business Partners (HRBPs) - a comprehensive guide

Human Resource is the guardian of a company’s most important resource: Employees. HR is the first point of contact for employees in times of crisis. It takes care of everything from people management, recruitment to ensuring compliance with employment laws and policies. However, the role of HR has evolved over time.

Instead of just having HR professionals fulfill administrative roles, HR business partners have taken over the more strategic role in companies.

This blog post will deep dive into the Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) role, its responsibilities, and the skills, tools and technologies required to succeed in this role. The goal is to provide a comprehensive overview which can make recruiting for the role effortless.

What is HR Business Partnering?

Human Resources Business Partnering (HRBP) is a strategic approach to human resources management that involves aligning HR strategies and practices with an organization's business objectives. It is a way of integrating HR into the overall business strategy by creating a partnership between HR professionals and line managers. The goal of HRBP is to enhance the performance of both the organization and its employees. The HRBP model focuses on four key areas:

  1. Strategic partnering: This involves working closely with business leaders to understand their needs, goals, and objectives, and developing HR strategies that support those objectives.
  2. Operational excellence: This involves delivering HR services efficiently and effectively, so that managers and employees can focus on their core business activities.
  3. Talent management: This involves identifying and developing the skills and capabilities of employees, to ensure that the organization has the right people in the right roles at the right time.
  4. Change management: This involves managing the process of change within the organization, and helping employees to adapt to new ways of working.

HRBPs play a critical role in driving organizational performance and creating a culture of high performance.

They help to bridge the gap between HR and the business, and ensure that HR strategies are aligned with business objectives.

What is a Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP)?

An HR business partner (HRBP) is a key HR professional who collaborates with an organization's top-level executives to enhance HR functions. Their primary responsibility is to design human resource agendas and supervise HR departments to achieve an organization's business goals. The role of HR business partner plays a vital role in creating more efficient people-management systems.

It's important to note that the HR business partner position is distinct from other roles like HR generalist or HR analyst, despite sounding similar. Understanding these subtle differences can save valuable resources like time and effort when recruiting.

Why are Human Resources Business Partners (HRBPs) important to companies?

HR Business Partners (HRBPs) can provide several benefits to organizations, including:

  1. Improved HR strategy alignment with business objectives: HRBPs can help align the HR strategy with the overall business strategy, ensuring that HR initiatives and practices support the company's goals and objectives. This can lead to better organizational performance and increased productivity.
  2. Better talent management: HRBPs can help managers identify and develop talent within the organization. This includes creating career development plans, identifying skill gaps, and providing training and development opportunities for employees.
  3. Enhanced employee engagement: HRBPs can work with managers to create a positive work environment that promotes employee engagement and retention. This includes addressing employee concerns, creating communication channels, and providing opportunities for feedback and recognition.
  4. Increased efficiency and effectiveness of HR functions: HRBPs can help streamline HR processes, reduce administrative burdens, and implement best practices that increase the effectiveness and efficiency of HR functions.
  5. Enhanced organizational agility: HRBPs can help organizations adapt to changes in the market and industry by identifying emerging trends and developing HR strategies that support organizational agility.

Overall, as the table above clearly shows, HRBPs can help organizations create a more strategic, people-focused approach to business that can drive better results and improve the bottom line.

What is the difference between HR Managers and Human Resources Business Partners (HRBPs)?

The HR Manager and HR Business Partner are two distinct roles in Human Resources, and while they share some similarities, they differ in their focus, responsibilities, and scope of work. The table below helps in understanding how an HR manager job differs from that of a business partner within the same field:

In summary, while both the HR Manager and HR Business Partner play important roles in HR, the HR Manager focuses on the operational aspects of HR, while the HR Business Partner takes a more strategic approach and works to align HR initiatives with the overall business strategy.

What are the roles and responsibilities of Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP)?

An HRBP does not carry out daily operational and transactional activities. Instead, they work on the big picture of the organization. They act as advisers and consultants to the top management on pressing issues about HR and organizational goals. Because human resources business partners have to accomplish the long-term goals of a business, they need to have sound business knowledge and familiarity with business jargon. This is carried out by a HR business partner in the following five unique ways:

The HR Business Partner role and responsibilities are becoming more and more strategic, as we’re in the digital age and changes happen very quickly. A competent HR business partner can alleviate the stress that often falls on leadership teams by thinking strategically, planning for the future, and helping to integrate technology into the workflow. An HR Business Partner must continuously learn and keep abreast of new developments with HR and within the business sector. By doing this, the HRBPs help their organizations become more successful. In a word, as a people-savvy and business-savvy HRBP, you can have a strong positive impact on your business.

What skills do Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) have?

Human resource business partnership is about developing and maintaining strategic relationships with top leadership, business units, and employees. An HRBP aligns the HR function with the business goals and fills gaps in between if any. 

Some key skills for a successful HR business partner to acquire and hone are as follows:

  • Business acumen: HRBPs must have a deep understanding of their organization's business operations, goals, and objectives, as well as the broader market context in which it operates.
  • Strategic thinking: HRBPs must be able to think strategically and develop HR strategies that align with the organization's goals and objectives.
  • Communication and relationship building: HRBPs must be effective communicators and able to build strong relationships with business leaders, managers, and employees.
  • Change management: HRBPs must be skilled in managing change and helping employees adapt to new ways of working.
  • Data analysis and decision-making: HRBPs must be able to use data to inform their decision-making and measure the effectiveness of their HR strategies.
  • Talent management: HRBPs must be able to identify and develop talent within the organization, and ensure that employees have the skills and capabilities needed to achieve their goals.
  • HR functional expertise: HRBPs must have a deep understanding of HR policies, practices, and procedures, and be able to apply this knowledge in the context of the organization's business operations.
  • Leadership: HRBPs must be strong leaders and able to influence and motivate others to achieve their goals.
  • Certifications: SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) or SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) credential or ability to obtain certification within one year of employment

What tools and technologies do Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) know and use?

Human Resources Business Partners (HRBPs) may use a variety of tools and technologies to support their work. Some common tools and technologies used by HRBPs include:

  1. Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS): HRBPs may use HRIS to manage employee data, track performance metrics, and automate HR processes. Some examples include: Zoho, SAP, Deel, Zenefits and Built For Teams
  2. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): HRBPs may use ATS to manage the recruitment process, from posting job openings to tracking candidate progress through the hiring process. Some examples include: Manatal, Ceipal, Freshworks, PCRecruiter and Trakstar.   
  3. Learning Management Systems (LMS): HRBPs may use LMS to deliver training and development programs to employees, track progress, and measure the effectiveness of training programs. Some examples include: Absorb LMS, iSpringLearn, Thinkific, TalentLMS and  Groundwork1.
  4. Performance Management Systems: HRBPs may use performance management systems to track employee performance, set goals, and provide feedback. Some examples include: PerformYard, Primalogik, Leapsome, GoCo and Mirro.    
  5. Communication and collaboration tools: HRBPs may use tools such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing to communicate and collaborate with employees, managers, and other stakeholders. Some examples include: Teamwork, Webex, Google Workspace, Harvest and Ryver
  6. Data analytics tools: HRBPs may use data analytics tools to analyze HR data and generate insights that can inform HR strategies and decision-making. Some examples include: Jupyter, Apache Spark, Knime and Tableau
  7. Social media and employer branding tools: HRBPs may use social media and employer branding tools to promote their organization and attract top talent. Some examples include: Paradox, BAM, LinkHumans and SkillScout.  

Overall, the use of tools and technologies by HRBPs can help streamline HR processes, improve the employee experience, and support strategic decision-making.

What is the compensation range for Human Resources Business Partners (HRBPs)?

Salary ranges for the HR business partner differ based on seniority level, type of organization and location.

According to Payscale, a junior HR business partner with 1-4 years of experience based in New York (NY) has a median salary of about $77,000 while one based in Houston (TX) has a median salary of $69,000. A senior HRBP has a median salary of approximately $122,000 in New York and $95,000 in Houston.

What is a good boolean search for finding Human Resources Business Partners (HRBPs)?

A generic boolean search string around terms looks like:

  • -job -jobs -sample -examples, to exclude irrelevant results
  • (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) to discover candidates’ online resumes or CVs
  • (“Human Resources Business Partner” OR “Human Resources Business Specialist”) to cover variations of the same job title

Here’s an example of a simple string to find resumes:

(intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) (“Human Resources Business Partner” OR “Human Resources Business Specialist”) -job -jobs -sample -templates

With this search string, the words “resume” or “CV” have to appear in the page title. Adding variations of Human Resources Business Partner job roles provides a larger number of relevant results. And, excluding more terms will reduce false positives.

Let’s look at what a final Boolean search looks like using the following fields:

  • Job title: (“Human Resources Business Partner” OR “Human Resources Business Specialist” OR “ HR Specialist” OR “Talent Acquisition Specialist”) AND (“Senior” OR “Lead” OR “Team Lead”)
  • Sector: (“Lifestyle” OR “Fashion”)
  • Tech Stack: SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP, Analytical thinking, Business Acumen, Zoho, SAP, Thinkific, Manatal

The Boolean search string that can be created using the the knowledge we have gained and the aforementioned fields, applicable to any job board, would resemble the following:

((“Human Resources Business Partner” OR “Human Resources Business Specialist” OR “ HR Specialist” OR “Talent Acquisition Specialist”) AND (“Senior” OR “Lead” OR “Team Lead”) AND (“Lifestyle” OR “Fashion”) AND ((“SHRM-CP” OR “SHRM-SCP”) AND “Analytical thinking” AND “Business Acumen” AND ((“Zoho” OR “SAP”) AND “Thinkific” AND “Manatal”) 

Similarly, some of the complete boolean strings to find Human Resources Business Partner with titles, position in the company etc. are:

  • VP - (“HRBP” OR “Human Resources Business Director” OR “HR Business Specialist,” “VP of HRBP,” “Talent Acquisition Manager” or “People Operations Manager” OR “HRBP director” OR "HRBP Analyst") AND (MBA OR Master) AND (SHRM-CP OR SHRM-SCP)

By using Boolean search as shown above in combination with other research methods, you can greatly increase your chances of finding the right person for your project.

What are some sample Interview questions for Human Resources Business Partners (HRBPs)?

Hard Skills

  1. If hired for this position, what is the first thing you will do as an HR business partner?
  2. Describe an experience in which you created a strategy aimed at improving and monitoring employee productivity. How did this strategy utilize, for example, industry research and company research? What other methods did you utilize? What was the outcome?
  3. Describe an experience in which you felt your job morphing into something that straddled HRBP and HR management, possibly involving direct dealings with employees. How did you feel about this new requirement for flexibility and broader teamwork? What is your view today?
  4. Can you please throw some light on how you will align your hiring strategy with business goals?
  5. How important is it to improve a company’s culture? Share any past experiences in terms of what initiatives you took and how successful you were. 
  6. Describe an experience in which you gave your full support to the ideas or conclusions of members of HR management, only to see them aggressively challenged by some executive members. How did you respond to this and what was the outcome?
  7. Tell me about a time, if any, when new, broader HRBP duties led to you dealing in some way with employees. How did you adapt your approach and communication skills to make yourself relatable and make your message or messages clear? What was the outcome?
  8. Tell me about a time when you had several deadlines and how were you able to meet those? 
  9. If you were to implement a new HR policy, how will you go about convincing the top management? 
  10. Have You Worked on Any HR Strategy that was Designed to Support Organizational Business Strategies?

Behavioral / Soft Skills

  1. If we hire you for this position, what will be the first thing you do as our new HRBP?
  2. Tell us about the biggest HR issue/challenge you’ve ever faced.
  3. What are your strategies to increase employee productivity and retention?
  4. What are your expectations of the leaders of various departments of the company and of the top management?

About Rocket

Rocket pairs talented recruiters with advanced AI to help companies hit their hiring goals. Rocket is headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley but has recruiters all over the US & Canada serving the needs of our growing client base across engineering, product management, data science and more.

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