Navigating as an HR Business Partner in the post-pandemic landscape

”A real paradigm shift in workforce mindset”

What are the key skills and characteristics of an HR Business Partner (HRBP)?

In a general sense, the HRBP is supposed to act as the link between the business and HR by driving and executing on the HR agenda as well as acting as a people advocate throughout the organisation. The HRBP role requires a mindset of strong people orientation combined with business acumen and an aptitude for performing both operational and strategic work – which might be easier said than done. Historically, the HRBP role was very administrative and transactional but has now become much more business driven and consultative. It’s important to note that the content of the HRBP role differs greatly between companies as there is not one single definition/shape of the HRBP role. This fact reflects the diverse HR landscape with its wide array of titles and responsibilities. This might seem confusing to someone not working in HR, looking to get an overview of the HRBP area.

How has the role of the HRBP changed post pandemic for your clients?

Firstly, I would like to say that what we see now is a real paradigm shift in workforce mindset, affecting all organisations and HR in particular. It cannot be emphasized enough how much the pandemic influenced the way people have come to view work, health and life priorities. For a lot of people, it was quite a life-changing period. The pandemic placed HR in the spotlight as many looked to HR professionals for answers to complex questions concerning remote work, mental and physical health as well as leadership in difficult and traumatic times. We now see the workforce leaving traditional jobs at a high pace, looking for higher compensation, meaningful work, caring leaders, more flexibility and freedom as well as an inclusive culture – simultaneously! This of course pose a challenge, especially for traditional employers who have built their business and culture around an effective organisation as opposed to a flexible organisation, but also for all organisations who want to keep their top talent. HR should create strategies for retaining and attracting talent on this changed market and are very much transcending beyond the traditional role of mainly people administration and operational tasks. That shift had begun before the pandemic but it very much acted as a catalyst for the recognition of the many hats HR now wear such as leadership coach, culture role-model, strategic consultant as well as co-curator of the overall workforce experience. Needless to say, it’s a demanding role that HRBP:s will have to navigate, requiring an extensive skillset to help leaders envision, design and implement HR strategies whilst at the same time leading operational excellence.

Tina Kärrberg
Manager | Deloitte, Consulting
+46 70 080 25 09 | 

Tina has near 15 years of total experience working with HR, both in consulting and in different functional roles at both global and smaller firms, across a wide range of industries. At Deloitte she works within HR Transformation, helping clients create strategies and organizations that leverage their unique visions and capabilities.

Reactivity is costly and can be viewed as the first and main argument for investing and developing HR.

Looking ahead, how do you see the role of HRBP evolve?

Keeping top talent in a fiercely competitive market will be on top of the priority list. From an HR organisational perspective, we now see that there is a shift from the embedded HRBP role, working in a strategic partnership with the business, to taking the lead in driving the key workforce solutions going forward. The strategic partnership positioned HR to quickly respond to business needs but it also resulted in a lack of proactive innovation, long term vision and in some cases reactivity. This reactivity is costly and can be viewed as the first and main argument for investing and developing HR. Faced with new demands from both the workforce as well as from an upskilling perspective the starting point must be to understand that every hour an HRBP spend doing low complexity tasks is an hour less working to make sure that your organisation is on top of the workforce strategy. Something that I often see in organisations is that there are high ambitions from the leadership around what HR as a function and their HRBPs should deliver, but the fundamentals are often not in place such as technical infrastructure, sufficient funding or prioritization of the HR function and - above all - a clearly defined purpose, strategy and vision. To get super clear on the “why” before going into the “how” is essential for directing your HRBPs focus on the things they do best and for ensuring they are equipped to meet the future of work and your unique challenges.

To enable this shift, what would you say are the most important HR capabilities?

There is not one set of “right” capabilities, applicable to all companies, and you need to consider the maturity level of the HR organisation. The most important thing from an organisational point of view is that leadership examine the business and HR strategy to make sure they are aligned. Based on current state & business objectives you should then identify the key skills and capabilities needed to meet those objectives. That being said, through our own global research and extensive client work we have identified a few areas that will be crucial to focus on for companies wishing to stay on top of their HR game:

  • Business fluency (e.g. people analytics/storytelling)
  • Consulting agility (e.g. project and communication skills) and
  • Visionary leadership (e.g. value driven leadership & securing DEI both from a policy and workspace point of view).

In essence, this means being able to create and drive HR solutions aligned with the new business challenges, acting with agility in uncertain times, turning data into insights and honing skills in project management. It also entails being advocates for a sustainable and flexible work life by acting as a leader and role model whilst daring to hold business leaders accountable and informed about their role on this journey.

How does your team support companies in shaping HR in the new world of work?

Human Capital at Deloitte have wide ranging competencies within Organisation transformation, HR transformation as well as Strategic Workforce Planning. Our edge is that we have 410 000 professionals worldwide as well as global research and leading practice to guide us in providing the best possible service to our clients. Human Capital transform HR organisations with the guiding perspective that one size does not fit all, using suitable insights and methodologies to create a fit for purpose HR delivery model. We currently do a lot of work assessing critical competencies for HR to ensure organisations are future ready as well as design up-skilling programs to create HR organizations adaptable to change – always with a sustainable culture and prioritized employee experience as backdrop.

If you are interested to hear more don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any of my colleagues. We are happy to help you start and facilitate the conversation around the purpose and vision for your HR organisation.

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