The critically evolving role of an HR Business Partner

HR & Business leaders are doing nothing new in terms of continuously looking towards the future when planning successful business strategies.

Kay Fadden explores the role of an HRBP in the evolving HR landscape

HR & Business leaders are doing nothing new in terms of continuously looking towards the future when planning successful business strategies.


Since joining HR Heads, my biggest observation from meeting with senior HR professionals, Directors and Leaders is that there is a phenomenal focus from the business sharpening their expectations of what HR delivers.

In my mind the magnifying glass on HR is HUGE.

With budgets being reduced and increased numbers of businesses downsizing after difficult economic years – everyone’s talking efficiency and the need for more, more revenue, less attrition, better customer retention and greater employee engagement.  It’s born out of necessity and therefore it affects the significant role HR plays.

We are seeing an increase in the volume of work being passed along the HR chain from the business (rather than sitting with line-managers) and the squeeze to get more value from HR to affect the employee experience. This has a magnifying glass on it and the lens is growing.

HR is adding more value by leading digital transformation projects, becoming genuinely data driven, finding the solutions that drive more efficiencies within core HR processes, continuous improvement in employee and management capability, better HR organisation & governance etc. It’s a long list.

I have summarised my top three themes from the conversations I have had over the last couple of months.

Current HR Trends

1. Everyone is talking about the drive for MORE Efficiency – HR is being asked to leverage everything that sits in the digital transformation space. Starting with Data, Processes & Tech. Remembering that even with the best of all three – if there is no adoption or understanding from your people as to why we do things its unlikely to be consistently adopted or able to drive value across different areas of your business.

2. Marginal gains – HR needs to critically understand the business landscape and whether they can find the marginal gains.  How does HR make the business case for new solutions? This is the deep analytical review of the all the current HR practices.  It is critical. From this comes the strategic plan for the transformation and where they need to be in 1, 3 & 5 years’ time. 

3. The impact this has on the role of an HRBP – With budgets lowered and that lens on the efficiency and gains, we are seeing businesses wanting their trusted HRBP’s to have 1 foot in the strategy and 10 feet in the tactical remits.

The ways in which HR Business Partners can cultivate frameworks and embed HR best practices can successfully impact the businesses bottom line and ROI.


What is the current HR Strategy?

The above will impact all roles within a HR team but my view is that the additional demands sit mostly with the HR Business Partners role. Understanding that message means that we have some truly brilliant, highly valued, long tenure senior HRBP’s coming into the market. That pool of talent must be more flexible on their expectation of their next role is it may be much broader than they have experienced recently. Want to discuss how this fits with your organisation? Book a short call.

We next explore the importance of how it all starts with a great HR strategy and how well that is aligned and embedded with your business strategy.

Deloitte’s “Creating value through HR Strategy” document that works through the plethora of HR Strategy insight and provides a framework that breaks down an 8 step process to gain a deep insight into the businesses overall business environment.

Once the strategic direction is defined – the organisation should review all of its HR policies, programs & practices to ensure they are aligned with the newly defined HR Strategy.

This discovery stage will allow for HR Leaders to focus and understand the gaps.

This stage is critical and continuous.

I personally love using these 4 questions to help take a check of all things current state of life!

  1. What should we start doing?
  2. What should we stop doing?
  3. What do we do well, and we should do more of?
  4. What’s not working well, and we should do less of?

4 HR Strategy ideas to help drive efficiencies in your organisation in 2024

  • Performance Reviews Transformation: Many organisations are rethinking their approach to performance reviews. They’re moving away from traditional annual reviews and adopting continuous feedback, real-time assessments, and personalized development plans.

  • Employee Engagement Initiatives: Organisations are investing in initiatives to boost employee engagement. These may include wellness programs, flexible work arrangements, recognition schemes, and career development opportunities.
  • Reskilling and Upskilling to embrace digital transformation: As roles evolve due to technological advancements, HR is focusing on reskilling and upskilling employees. This ensures that the workforce remains adaptable and equipped with relevant skills.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): Organisations are prioritising DEI efforts. They’re implementing inclusive hiring practices, promoting diversity in leadership, and creating safe spaces for all employees.

10 competencies required for a successful HRBP to be a trusted strategic partner:


The Role of an HRBP…In Summary

It is important to share that the magnifying glass on Efficiency & gains isn’t going ANYWHERE soon.

The above will impact all roles within an HR team but my view is that the stretch will sit mostly with the HR business partner role. Understanding that message means that we have some truly brilliant, highly valued, long tenure senior HRBP’s coming into the market. That pool of talent must be more flexible in the breadth of the business partner role shifting towards more business-related expectations.  It may be that your business needs to establish the right HR capabilities itself before you can improve operational HR excellence to get that added value.

If you are looking to build your HR brand, link your business strategy with a HR strategy, or look at some ideas to strengthen your existing HR teams please do get in touch.

ReferencesThe Evolution of the HR Business Partner Role (White Paper by ScottMadden, Inc.)


If you’ve found this insightful, and have further questions I’d be happy to arrange a short call to discuss your business needs, book directly here.