Effective HR support

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Effective HR support

Introduction: the concept of HR-business partnership

The constantly growing business needs require active rebuilding of HR-service companies to most effectively meet the current challenges. Typical Department of Human Resources consists of a number of departments that specialize in specific functions: selection and adaptation of personnel, training and development, compensation and benefits, HR outsourcing. This poorly established communication and interaction between departments forces businessmen to get consulted in one or the other HR-department, losing a lot of time and diverting their attention from the main business processes. HR-support, on the other hand, should be done "on demand" and be primarily reactive, occasionally working in advance.

Due to changes in the current business needs the Department of Human Resources has been revised and supplemented by specialists like an HR-business partner. Its main objective is to know and understand the specifics of the business unit for which he is responsible, as well as the implementation not only of professional consulting, but also strategic partnerships.

Thus, the focus has shifted to proactive cooperation. The main difference of this cooperation is not only in form but in content: the partner is more involved in life of a business unit, taking part in the meetings of the department, planning and other processes. Work is based on the principle of one-stop shop: business leader appeals to an HR-partner with any request on the staff, who on the basis of existing knowledge, skills and advice from the HR-departments (recruitment, training, HR outsourcing, etc.) provides adequate and timely solutions.

This approach implemented within the HR-business partnership has worked well for several years, for many international companies: 3M, Nestle, Unilever, Philips, etc. Typically, Western companies have a program of training and developing of HR-business partners, which includes both internal and external training, mentoring and specialized training.

There are several characteristics of an HR-business partner:


  • An HR-business partner knows the current situation in the industry, market conditions in the region, the activity of competitors, etc. This is the basic information upon which the expert may recommend certain actions in respect of staff: the most effective ways to retain staff, the best time to attract new employees, current offers on training and development, etc.;
  • An HR-partner is involved with the business, which is important in solving both the tactical and strategic level issues;
  • There is a clear division of responsibilities between the HR-partner and a manager in solving organizational problems: the introduction of a new organizational strategy, creating a plan of employee development, the introduction of a new program evaluation of key performance indicators and management staff recruitment. Depending on the situation, these duties may be performed entirely by HR-specialist or may be divided between the manager and the HR-partner. The degree of involvment of HR into the objectives is defined by the conditions of such  cooperation;
  • An HR-partner should establish and coordinate virtual teams, as well as to monitor the collective decision-making throughout the company.


In order to maximize the quality of its work, HR-business partner takes the following responsibilities:

  • development and implementation of strategies for working with the staff in the business unit, implementing those in the branches;
  • development and implementation of HR-policies and procedures;
  • organization and control of the HR processes in the newly opened branches: planning and coordinating the staff, organizeing recruitment in accordance with the requirements of the business unit and regional characteristics, training of new employees, etc.;
  • address current HR-issues, interaction with managers, employees;
  • development and implementation of relevant programs for employee development and training;
  • development and implementation of motivational and incentive programs for business units;
  • good theoretical understanding and practical knowledge of the methods of personnel management;
  • development and implementation of HR-processes;
  • building effective cross-functional communication system.

Next, we will go through a number of relevant examples, revealing the role of HR-business partner in development and implementation of the programs to retain key employees, preparing the team for the future, maintaining the capacity of staff, not only for their development, but also on the development of the company.


Retaining key employees


For this purpose, an HR business partner will use routine surveys, which can help us understand the following aspects:

  • the organizational environment;
  • the degree of satisfaction and involvement of the staff;
  • external situation and suggestions of other employers for retaining their employees.

Internal (organizational needs) and external (market practice) surveys, the use of the interview materials allows us to create an average package that would satisfy most of the employees. However, the "average" offer may not always satisfy all of the key employees. In this case we can use a personal touch – an employee is allowed to pick the benfits from a general list offered by the employer. The limitating factor here is only the price of a certain benefit. A well-developed corporate culture can itself be a strong motivational factor for retaining employees. Yet every year it becomes more difficult to retain employees. They go through the cycles of training, developing, mentoring, etc., and leave to other companies for higher positions. The risk of losses for a company increases significantly when a key employee leaves to work for a competitior. While increased salaries could keep the employees for a short period of time, other tactics need to be used to preserve staff, too. Some of them are:

  • professional business communication - creating thematic communities in the intranet (sales, marketing, technical support, management), organization of round table discussions, case conferences;
  • informal communication - organizing clubs by interest (yoga, football, basketball, foreign language, dance, photography), thematic forums on the intranet. The establishment of such programs allowed a formal and informal channels of communication, and ensures the involvement of the employees in the development, implementation and maintenance of the above.


Preparing the team for growth


By the nature of its activities, an HR-business partner should work out a plan for the business units at least five years in advance. According to these forecasts it generates an adequate plan of action on a number of parameters, including:

  • formation of the organizational structure;
  • attracting new employees;
  • training and retention of employees;
  • optimization of human resources;
  • formation and development of talent pool.

These aspects represent a rough plan of work, which, of course, is not complete and final. There are various add-ons and extensions that take into account all the nuances of the industry sector and organizational specifics.


Preservation of the staff potential for future development


In preserving the capacity of staff for development the role of an HR-business partner is one of the leading, as it cooperates the efforts of several sides: top management, line managers and employees themselves. In order to preserve the potential for development, both the external and internal conditions must be created. The employer needs to create the external conditions: offer employees assistance in creating individual development plans, prepare and publish a calendar of internal and external training. As for the internal environment, employee's own motivation to learn should be taken into account.


In conclusion, the role of an HR business partner is very diverse. Of course, such partnership may be impractical for some companies. We need to consider the type of company, its objectives and strategy for the next five to seven years, the stage of organizational development, the availability of resources for the management of change.







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Resource Management International Digest, 13, 4


McArthur, S. (27, May 08). Is the hr business partner model killing your career?. Retrieved from http://hrpeople.monster.com/news/articles/354-is-the-hr-business-partner-model-killing-your-career


McKay, M. (n.d.). What is the hr business partner model?. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/hr-business-partner-model-3878.html


Metzler, C.A. (1998), “Charting a new role as strategic business partners (human resource

management),” HR Magazine


Mohrman, S.A. (2003), “HR as a strategic partner: what does it take to make it happen?”

Human Resource Planning.


Morley, M.J., Gunnigle, P., O'Sullivan, M., and Collings, D.G. (2006), “New directions

in the roles and responsibilities of the HRM function,” Personnel Review, 35, 6

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The constantly growing business needs require active rebuilding of HR-service companies to most effectively meet the current challenges. Typical Department of Human Resources consists of a number of departments that specialize in specific functions: selection and adaptation of personnel, training and development, compensation and benefits, HR outsourcing.
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