HR business partners: what 4 capabilities drive success?

HR business partners that develop four key skills and capabilities will be more likely to achieve positive business outcomes

HR business partners that develop four key skills and capabilities will be better placed to work on talent challenges side-by-side with peer business leaders and more likely to achieve positive business outcomes, including innovation and efficiency.

A recent Bersin by Deloitte report found that the desirable skills and capabilities HR business partners should acquire are:

  1. Consulting agility, which includes data analytics skills and the ability to align HR solutions with business imperatives
  2. Business fluency, or the ability to combine financial acumen and operations knowledge with HR expertise and an understanding of the talent landscape;
  3. Visionary leadership that effectively advances ideas that promote a positive culture within the organisation, and
  4. Emerging capabilities, which include the ability to anticipate the future and keep pace with the radically changing nature of work by harnessing emerging opportunities, and working adeptly with a multigenerational and inclusive workforce.

“Our research shows that when compared to companies with low-performing HR functions, organisations that embed HR in the business adapt to market changes 2.5 times faster, create new products and services 2.4 times faster, and are twice as efficient in improving processes and keeping costs low,” said David Mallon, vice president and head of research, Bersin by Deloitte.

The research report, Build Capability in HR Business Partners and Business HR, calls for an upgrading of the capabilities of HR business partners to help them become trusted advisers to the business.

“The emphasis on ensuring that those professionals have the requisite capabilities and competencies is what has been lacking”

“By improving and expanding HRBP skills, HR functions can drive value and relevance,” said the report, which observed that the HRBP role should be responsible for solving problems directly when possible and bringing in other parts of HR when needed in order to:

  • Work with line leadership to build a deep understanding of business and talent pressures
  • Translate business strategies into people-focused initiatives
  • Develop and shape programs to address business-specific needs by playing roles within communities of expertise
  • Create harmonisation in how HR is delivered to the business at an enterprise level

Responding to these new challenges calls for a coordinated, business-embedded, advisory-based HR service delivery model, otherwise known as “high impact HR”, said the report.

“Our experience over countless HR transformation initiatives has pointed to HR capabilities as the ‘last mile’ of change,” said Erica Volini, US HR transformation leader for Deloitte Consulting.

“While transformation efforts in the past have focused on creating capacity for the HR business partner to focus on strategic work, the emphasis on ensuring that those professionals have the requisite capabilities and competencies is what has been lacking.

“By identifying the core skills needed for business partners to operate in the new world of work, we can maximise their effectiveness and, more importantly, their contribution to business results.

“That is when transformation can be fully achieved.”

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