What is an HR Business Partner? [Brief Guide]

An HR business partner is an experienced human resource professional that works directly with a company’s senior leadership to direct and develop their HR agenda. That HR plan always needs to closely support the goals of the company.

Unlike people who hold the usual HR positions and work primarily as part of the company’s internal human resources department, the HR business partner instead works closely with the company’s senior leadership. They sometimes even sit on the board of directors or, at least, regularly collaborate with the C-suite of the company.

Suppose a company wants to make human resources a part of the organizational strategy of the company. In that case, they need to put the HR business partner in close contact with the company’s leadership. An HR business partner is involved in high-level discussions with the goal to help a business fulfill its overall people goals.

Only if an organization lets an HR person strategically shape and execute the company’s mission and vision through the lens of HR we can consider that an HR business partner. The reason why HR deserves a seat at the strategy table is that they look after the company’s most important resource—its people.

What exactly does an HR business partner do at a company?


An HR business partner is usually an HR manager who is freed of not being involved with the usual rigid administrative constraints.

Instead of providing HR services to the company and its employees, HR business partners deal with tasks that have a more strategic importance for the company. The most common strategic tasks for HR are HR planning or HR strategy. By focusing only on strategic tasks, they can strategically influence and grow an organization from inside.

The term was coined in the late 1990s by the university professor, author, speaker, management coach, and management consultant Dave Ulrich. He developed the Ulrich Business Partner model to help HR professionals integrate more closely into everyday business processes and help them align their day-to-day work with business outcomes.

What does it mean to be an HR business partner in today’s business world?


HR business partners aren’t just partners in the traditional sense. They, in fact, have to play an active role in running the company. While they continue to do their everyday work and be points of contact for the company’s employees, they are also an essential part of executive management.

HR business partners’ expertise and knowledge should provide valuable and reliable input to the company’s management. They also need to be involved in all significant decisions that are to be made by the management. HR business partners should work closely and collaboratively with the company’s executive management while proactively contributing to creating the company’s values and ensuring that all employees are doing their best to achieve the corporate goals.

What are the five core tasks and duties of HR business partners?


#1 Strategic control and overview of major HR processes


The old business saying is true—employees are truly the companies’ most valuable resource, which means that the current shortage of skilled professionals is definitely one of the greatest challenges in HR today. That is why HR business partners need to have the strategic vision to identify hiring bottlenecks and problems early on in the process and do everything in their power to run efficient and proactive recruiting and hiring processes in their companies.

In addition to making sure that recruiting runs smoothly all the time, they need to ensure that the company’s employee retention rates are high, as high turnover rates are one of the major cost drivers in all companies of today.

#2 Talent development and coaching


Once that HR business partners’ strategic decisions have led to the right hires for the company, they need to ensure that those employees get and stay on the company’s course and help it continually move forward. For this to happen, it is crucial that HR business partners provide a strategy for professional development and training initiatives for employees and managers in the company.

By helping employees and managers further develop their professional skills will not only drive productivity but are also essential for the company’s ability to provide value for their employees. Employees that feel appreciated by their company and that know that they are supported are much less likely to start searching for new jobs.

#3 Collaboration with the company’s executive management


One of the true purposes of the HR business partner is to be the executive management’s direct point of contact for anything to do with people planning, meeting HR requirements, and people operations in general.

HR business partners need to work with the company’s data and internal tools to support the executive management team in major decisions such as increasing or decreasing the headcount in the company, or figuring out which skills are missing within the workforce to keep an edge over the competitors.

An HR business partner needs to be the one who keeps a clear view of the people operations of the company. They also need to play an active role in helping shape the company’s future.

#4 Taking control of the ever-changing HR processes


The number of challenges people in HR are confronted with on a daily basis is almost always increasing. That is clear evidence of just how important it is to digitalize HR processes. Roles in HR need to be reconsidered, a new change needs to occur in established working structures, and recruiting, onboarding, and other HR processes need to be made accessible online.

Investing in the right tools will help HR business partners save valuable time and money for the company. One of the most popular tools for recruiters is Recruiteze. Recruiteze is an ultra-modern recruitment software that can help automate your entire hiring process, by helping you easily find the perfect candidates for your company, and nurture them.

#5 Employer branding


The role of the HR business partner is to bring the company’s corporate culture to life and ensure that it supports the growth of the workforce and the company’s profits.

At the same time, the HR business partner needs to communicate the corporate culture and everything that the company does with the outside world. If you want to recruit the best available talent in today’s highly competitive market and also in the future, the HR business partner needs to be that strategic driver of positive brand image and employee branding.

How can a company benefit from an HR business partner?


Only by employing an HR business partner can HR management become a business division that actually contributes to the creation of value and the success of the company.

By giving HR a seat at the decision-making table, it will no longer be just a rigid administrative body and a cost for the company, but an actual proactive contributor to the overall success of the company.

What competencies does an HR business partner require?


Not all people working in HR can become an HR business partner which is why we have prepared a list of the most common traits and competencies of HR business partners today.

Curiosity and empathy


HR business partners need to possess a desire to learn all aspects of the business and its goals. The attainment of these company goals should be a critical measure of the performance of the HR business partner. Also, they need to have a deep caring for the workforce of the company and they also need to be a proactive force behind workforce strategy.



HR business partners have to be comfortable working with business leaders and managers whenever they need to address any workforce challenges or issues that happen in the company. They also need to be an active part of the solution.



HR business partners must be ready to fail and say “no” to the management. They also need to be willing to take risks to achieve great outcomes, and to support other employees in taking those risks.

Ability to network


Being familiar with who’s who in the business and externally is hugely important for HR business partners. Having the ability to develop relationships with decision-makers and knowledgeable people is also important.

Business-language knowledge


To ensure that what they do is credible from a business standpoint, HR business partners need to be able to speak the lingo by knowing the details of the business and understanding its jargon and acronyms.

Change-management skills


HR business partners need to facilitate discussions around the change and transformation of the company. They also need to be able to identify where and when change management will be needed and proactively participate in developing plans for the entire business.

Final thoughts


The world of human resources and the role of the HR business partner is ever-changing and evolving.

Thanks to the fast-paced business environments, being in HR is, quite frankly, one of the most exciting positions to be in today, as many people devote their time day in day out to craft the place for HR business partners as strategic advisors of businesses all over the world.

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