One of the pivotal roles in the Next Generation HR service delivery model is the HR Business Partner. That is not to be confused with the Generalist or the old Business Partner role.

The new Business Partner must be strategic. That means the Business Partner is focused on his/her customer – the business leader – which means someone else needs to be supporting employees and managers (shared services), and someone else needs to be supporting detailed design and subject expertise for the line of business (Centers of Expertise).

Business Partners do not design programs, they do not deliver operational HR services. In our experience, the whole model must be in place to allow the Business Partner to be strategic.

So what does the Business Partner actually do? The role of the Business Partner is to own the outcomes with the business. This means that Business Partners have a point of view and the courage to express it – they won’t always just agree with the business leader they support.

They need to ensure day-to-day HR operations are working but don’t personally deliver that service. They are an active member of the senior leadership team, engaged in conversations about the business (not just about people issues) and are heard by other leaders. They use data and analytics, ensure the business makes fact-based decisions on people issues and are innovative.

The day-day work of the Business Partner supports the business and the business leaders. It includes activities like leading workforce planning for the business unit and partnering to resolve people issues and challenges within the business.

They ensure rollout of the HR programs within the business – succession management, talent assessment, performance management, etc. They may also help implement parts of the new HR model (like shared services) and encourage HR staff and stakeholders to use the model the way it is designed.

They also support large-scale business unit organizational changes by leading change management processes. They should know the talent in their BU and broker it across the BU and whole organization.

Karen Piercy is a partner with Mercer Human Resource Consulting LLC’s operations and technology solutions segment. This article was originally published on the Mercer website and is reprinted with permission.

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