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What is an HR Business Partner?

6 min read

An HR business partner performs a crucial role, serving as a link between the strategic goals of a business and the people responsible for getting the company where it needs to be. HRBPs work with department leaders, managers, and key stakeholders to unlock the potential of all business areas and they can have a huge impact on the way an organization is both built and run. In fact, according to Gartner, high-performing HRBPs can improve employee performance by 22% and retention by 24%. 

In this post, we will take a look at what a human resources business partner is and what the role entails. We will also look at some of the key skills, education, and experience required for the position and the tools that can help an HRPB succeed.  

  1. What is an HR Business Partner (HRBP)
  2. HR Business Partner Job Description
  3. How to Become an HR Business Partner
  4. HR Business Partner Career Path
  5. HR Business Partner Salary
  6. Tools for HR Business Partners
  7. Factorial: HR Reports and Analytics ✅

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What is an HR Business Partner (HRBP)

A human resources business partner, also referred to as an HR business partner or an HRBP, is a strategic position responsible for delivering value to the organization and driving decision-making processes. Put simply, an HR business partner is an experienced human resource professional who works directly with senior managers, directors, and business leaders to develop an HR strategy that supports an organization’s growth, performance, and objectives. Ultimately, they align an organization’s ‘people strategy’ with their ‘business strategy’.

The HRBP role has become increasingly popular over recent years, primarily because the position can help stabilize organizations during times of change and disruption, as most businesses have experienced since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Because the business partner role is so strategic, HRBPs are mostly found in large organizations, and they can be responsible for multiple thousands of employees. 

HR Business Partner Job Description

According to Gartner, an HR business partner primarily fulfills four basic roles: 

  • Operations Manager: measuring and monitoring existing HR policies and procedures
  • Emergency Responder: providing solutions to organizational emergencies
  • Strategic Partner: designing and implementing enterprise-wide strategies to resolve organizational challenges
  • Employee Mediator: creating sustained solutions to individual employee challenges

Fundamentally, however, the HRBP role is all about ensuring that an organization’s HR policies and procedures help the company reach its strategic goals and long-term objectives. Compared to the duties of an HR manager which are more focused on day-to-day administration, compliance, and management, HR business partner responsibilities are more concerned with the bigger picture, making sure HR strategies align with the organization’s overall business strategy.

HRBP job responsibilities typically include guiding senior executives on HR issues such as strategic planning, developing supportive HR and organizational strategies, and analyzing requirements for talent acquisition, recruiting, and onboarding. They are drivers of change in an organization and take an active role in shaping the future of a business at every level. 

How to Become an HR Business Partner

There are a number of requirements that anyone wanting to become an HR business partner must meet. For one thing, you need a strong working background in HR management and HR best practices. You need to have a solid business sense, exceptional problem-solving abilities, and strong analytical skills. You also need to meet a number of requirements in terms of education and professional experience.

Before we look at the typical HR business partner career path, let’s take a look at some of the essential HR soft skills that any HRBP needs to possess in order to succeed.

Project and People Management Skills

A human resources business partner needs to possess excellent project and people management skills. This is vital because they will be responsible for managing a vast range of resources and stakeholders. This includes having highly developed leadership and problem-solving skills and the confidence to act on initiative. 

Ability to Manage Change and Transformation

A good HRBP also needs to be able to adapt to and effectively manage change and transformation. This enables them to adapt to evolving business objectives, such as those experienced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. In business, as in life, change is the only constant. A good HRPB needs to be able to take on disruptive challenges with the least impact on the organization.

Effective Communication Skills

An HR business partner also needs to have excellent communication skills. This will help them skillfully manage a number of activities, ranging from negotiations to conflict or crisis resolution. They also need to have the confidence to say no to executives when challenged and necessary. This is an integral part of being in a role that fundamentally advocates for change.

Business Knowledge & Cultural Awareness

As we have already mentioned, a critical requirement of being a successful HRBP is having extensive experience in business and human resources management. You need to understand core business functions, how business units interact, and how organizational charts work. You also need to have a keen sense of cultural awareness. Plus, you need a firm understanding of different labor laws, business practices, and compensation structures.
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Able to Identify and Develop Leaders

Another important skill to possess is the ability to identify and develop effective leaders. One of the most important responsibilities of a human resources business partner is liaising with senior executives and departmental leaders and ensuring all management levels have a firm understanding of the organization’s strategic HR objectives. This enables all business units to align their performance with the goals of the company. A fundamental part of this is being able to identify the right external candidates for leadership roles. You also need to provide them with the right training so that they can lead their departments into overall business success. 

Proficiency with Digital Tools 

Finally, an HRBP needs experience working with a wide range of tools and software solutions. This includes experience with tools for business intelligence, decision support, data visualization, and online communities that facilitate information sharing. This will help the right candidate develop and communicate the HR strategy and manage individuals and teams. 

HR Business Partner Career Path

As we mentioned above, there are a number of requirements for this role in terms of education and experience.

Most companies looking to hire an HR business partner want a candidate with a degree-level education in either Human Resources or a business-related subject. An MBA or relevant master’s degree is also highly desirable. 

The right experience is also vital. Most companies look for an HR business partner with at least 4 years of experience working as an HR manager or in a supervisory/management people operations role. Once you have secured a position, the typical career path of an HRBP is usually: HR Business Partner – Senior HR Business Partner – Head HR Business Partner – HR Director – Chief Human Resources Officer. 

If you are looking for more information about developing your career in HR then you might want to check out this free HR Growth Paths Webinar. The webinar, led by Asad Husain, offers some clarity for HR professionals who are looking for ways to grow professionally. You will learn about the importance of focusing on your own goals and techniques to establish professional credibility and more.

HR Business Partner Salary

The role of human resources business partner is a critical strategic position within any company. The position works closely with senior executives and has a number of integral responsibilities within the company. The HR business partner position, therefore, tends to command a higher salary than other human resources roles.

In the US, the average annual salary for HR business partners ranges from $85,000 to $103,000. This is higher than the range of $71,000 to $78,000 for an HR manager. And it’s considerably higher than the average salary of an HR generalist, which ranges from $53,000 to $58,000. 

Having said that, salaries are highly dependent on company size, industry, and level of experience. For example, a junior HR business partner will command a much lower starting salary than an experienced strategic HR business partner.

Tools for HR Business Partners

We’ve discussed the importance of having the right skills, qualifications, and experience. However, you also need to have access to the right tools in order to succeed as an HR business partner. The right software can facilitate planning, performance, and measuring performance results. It can help you identify workforce requirements, align HR strategies, and convert policies into practice. With the right metrics, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business. The right data can also serve as measurable evidence that shows how your HR activities add value to your business. 

An effective solution for managing your HR processes is Factorial’s all-in-one software for people teams. With Factorial’s intuitive and easy-to-use interface, you have access to all the metrics and processes you need to help your organization reach its strategic goals.

What’s more, our 2022 People Manager Kit is a comprehensive selection of over 30 HR management tools and resources.  The kit includes downloadable templates, checklists, surveys, and more. 

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Sign up now and start hitting your strategic objectives with Factorial!

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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