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What Is an HR Business Partner (HRBP) & How Can They Help Your Business?

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 12/12/2023

A human resource business partner offers HR expertise to a business owner

Table of Contents

An external human resources business partner (HRBP) helps business owners and CEOs integrate the role of human resource management into their company's broader strategic framework. In this way, an HRBP may be an instrumental partner in accelerating growth, ensuring long-term employee retention, and paving the way for greater employee engagement in your business.

In other words, an HR business partner may be among the most significant support you can pursue for your organization.

What Is an HR Business Partner (HRBP)?

An HR business partner can offer expertise and knowledge in human resource management but, more importantly, may be able to provide a "big picture" perspective. A key role of an HRBP is to help business owners and leaders understand where and how human resources can offer a strategic competitive advantage.

Generally, these knowledgeable third-party individuals work with an organization’s leadership. They can assist with alignment between HR procedures and policies and the company's strategic business objectives.

Key areas of focus can include:

  • HR compliance (local, state, federal)
  • Classification of employees
  • Data analysis and benchmarking
  • Employee recruitment and retention

Simply adding another person to the HR team might not meet your challenges, particularly if that person lacks sufficient experience. In such cases, business leaders often turn to outsourcing.

HR Business Partner Models

HRBP outsourcing models can be based on the principle that HR plays a key role in meeting a company's strategic objectives. While certain HR functions may continue to be led by the in-house HR team (compliance obligations, employee benefits, payroll, etc.), an HRBP may focus on supporting a business in its effort to align recruitment, onboarding, employee experience, and human capital management with the company's broader goals.

This results in a more comprehensive perspective on how much HR can contribute to long-term strategy and planning.

What Does an HR Business Partner Do?

Working with an HR business partner can open significant possibilities for growth. An HRBP can:

  • Support improvement of the quality of your workforce by offering skilled recruiting, screening, and interviewing support services
  • Help you develop orientation programs, employee handbooks, management guides, performance evaluation forms, and schedules
  • Support an HR compliance program
  • Consult on what benefits programs might be best to help the business in attaining its goals
  • Show you how to maintain a secure, organized database of employee information

The HRBP always works with existing HR managers and other important stakeholders. In addition, the human resources business partner helps foster an environment where the human resources department is regarded as an essential strategic resource, not merely responsible for HR administrative duties.

HRBP Roles and Responsibilities

HRBP responsibilities can cover various HR strategic functions. Primarily, the HRBP provides expert HR support to a human resources department and business organization, focusing on short- and long-range objectives that help guide the business toward future flourishing.

Additional roles may include:

  • Acting as a consultant in business efforts to restructure HR as needed to further company goals
  • Supporting clients and providing resources for the recruitment and hiring of "high-value" positions within the organization
  • Assisting businesses with developing employee policies concerning performance management, onboarding, and retention

In essence, the HR business partner is a critical strategic partner helping to guide overall company policy concerning human resources.

HR Business Partner vs. HR Manager

While their roles may sometimes overlap, there are distinct differences between an HR manager and an HR business partner. Generally, HR managers are more "hands-on" about daily human resources operations. Their administrative duties help keep HR moving smoothly and are key to any broad HR strategy.

As noted, HR business partners take a big-picture view of the organization as a consulting HR partner. They collaborate with a range of other organizational departments (and their managers) to:

  • Recommend ways to help tailor plans to recruit individuals with specific skills (as needed by the company)
  • Assist businesses with developing strategy-focused communication
  • Support company efforts to align human resources operations to a company's strategic objectives

Businesses that emphasize collaboration between HR business partners and HR managers often see meaningful results, all designed to boost business strategy and foster future growth.

Benefits of an HR Business Partner Model

Contracting with a service that provides HRBP help can benefit your company in many ways.

  • Improve the quality of your workforce through skilled recruiting, screening, and interviewing support services
  • Help design orientation and management programs, employee handbooks, performance evaluation forms, and schedules
  • Support your company's compliance program through up-to-date knowledge of changing employment and safety laws
  • Provide recommendations when it comes to competitive compensation
  • Offer efficient payroll processes with current technology
  • Review and recommend ways to improve the secure and organized maintenance of your employee organization

The importance of an HR business partner can't be overstated. If you decide to seek outside HR help, a variety of versatile human resource solutions exist. But you will want a human resources business partner when looking to incorporate HR into your overall business strategy.

HR and the Need for Experience

It happens frequently enough: In the rush to grow a business, human resource management tasks are a low priority. For example, a startup might assign an employee initially hired to oversee marketing to assume HR tasks, too. The problem is that that person will likely not possess the knowledge or experience to take on this critical role.

Your business might need the consultation of an HR Business Partner if human resource functions are:

  • Consuming too much of your time
  • Failing to provide employees with a structured orientation program, detailed job descriptions, employee handbook, or the best possible benefit plans
  • Jeopardizing worker safety and other legal aspects of business through non-compliance with federal and state regulations
  • Getting in the way of revenue-generating activities

That's where a consultative human resources business partner comes in. An HRBP can provide recommendations to your business, while still keeping your internal team accountable for decision-making and compliance obligations.

HRBPs and Your Business

Regardless of industry or type of business, human resources is (and will always be) a key element in the organization's overall structure. But there is a "place at the table" for HR that goes beyond the important day-to-day responsibilities of an HR manager. In this respect, a human resource business partner can assist a business with elevating the profile of HR so that company leaders are more willing to call upon the HR department's strengths and resources as part of their overall planning process.

Paychex HR Services helps you navigate HR challenges and opportunities so you can focus more on running your business. Also, as a professional employer organization, Paychex can help you simplify HR tasks, design more affordable Fortune 500-level benefits packages for your workforce, and provide access to HR advice and guidance. This guidance may be the key factor in contributing strategic organizational goals — a worthy objective for any business, especially those poised to grow dramatically in the coming months and years.

Professional employer organization (PEO) services provided by Paychex Business Solutions, LLC (Florida employee leasing license GL7), Oasis Outsourcing, LLC (Florida employee leasing license GL42), and their affiliates, which are licensed or registered to provide PEO services where required by law.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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