Your Guide to Understanding the HRBP Role

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A human resources business partner (HRBP) adds excellent value to an organization. Explore the HRBP role, the required skills and responsibilities, and how they differ from HR managers.

[Featured image] A human resources business partner is sitting at their desk talking to their coworker.

The human resources business partner (HRBP) role differs from an HR manager. Although they have some overlapping skills and responsibilities, this article explores what makes the HRBP distinct and how to find success in this role.

What is an HRBP?

The HRBP’s job is to build bridges between human resources and other business units. This position aligns people management with the needs of an organization’s different teams. This position draws on an overall understanding of finances, business objectives, competition, market trends, and company culture to develop solutions across the organization.

HR manager vs. HRBP 

An HR manager typically has a supervisory role and is usually responsible for the day-to-day oversight of HR policies and processes. These processes may include talent acquisition and development, employee productivity, discipline, payroll and benefits processing, and regulatory compliance.

The HR business partner, on the other hand, has a more strategic role. An HRBP might coach executives, plan strategy, and analyze talent requirements. This individual brings a broader business knowledge to support HR alignment with overall organizational goals.

What does an HRBP do?

As an HRBP, you'll be the person in human resources who champions change and provides strategic advice. You can expect to partner closely with senior leadership to align the HR agenda with business goals. In this role, you must be a strong communicator since you’ll present information to key stakeholders and relay high-level decisions throughout the organization. 

Typical duties

The HRBP’s responsibilities vary, but some duties may include:

  • Analyzing and evaluating HR metrics 

  • Guiding HR policy and suggesting new strategies

  • Monitoring and reporting on workforce and succession

  • Identifying training needs and evaluating development programs

  • Addressing employee grievances or issues with employee relations

  • Building relationships with internal leaders and colleagues

  • Driving organizational culture

  • Fighting for diversity and inclusion

  • Leveraging employees as brand ambassadors


In HRBP jobs, you’ll work closely with business line managers and typically meet regularly with representatives of different business units to consult and provide HR guidance. 

When business leaders need coaching, the HRBP typically identifies the opportunity and will work with managers to help guide their performance. An HRBP also supports business restructuring and workforce or succession planning.

Strategic leadership

An HRBP offers in-depth knowledge of legal requirements, so a key role is to help cut legal or compliance risks. You’ll use HR metrics and trend analysis to develop, implement, and monitor HR solutions, programs, and policies. 

The HRBP also helps identify training needs, evaluate training, and monitor workforce development to meet an organization’s goals.

As a strategic leader, the HRBP may establish relationships with stakeholders and gain leadership buy-in. Sharing metrics and clearly conveying the vision and value of HR contributions can help you achieve more in an HRBP role. 

What skills and experience do you need to work as an HRBP?

The HR business professional needs proven human resources experience and an understanding of other business lines. HRBPs typically focus on the big picture rather than daily administrative tasks, requiring more of a background steering strategy and managing change.

Business background

The HRBP needs a detailed understanding of the organization's hierarchy, jobs, and HR practices. At the same time, you’ll need to know industry best practices for compensation, diversity, employee relations, organizational change, and performance management. You’ll also need a deep understanding of employment law and labour regulations. 

The organization could also prefer you to have expertise outside of HR. It’s helpful to seek exposure to other important business areas to broaden your background. This can help you communicate effectively with different unit leaders.


Ideally, an HRBP will hold at least a bachelor’s degree in human resource management or a similar field. They may also want you to have a master’s degree in a related field.

You can also improve your chances of getting an HRBP role by certifying with the Society for Human Resources Management. The industry group offers Certified Professional and Senior Certified Professional credentials.

Technical skills

The HRBP job description is likely to emphasize the following abilities:

  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

  • Ability to comprehend and apply applicable laws and guidelines

  • Time management expertise

  • Strategic leadership

  • Research skills and an interest in lifelong learning  

  • Cross-cultural competence

  • Project management skills 

  • Proficiency with digital tools and data analytics

Workplace skills

As the HRBP, you’ll also need to demonstrate personal skills that can help with your interaction with coworkers and stakeholders. These might include the following characteristics:

  • Excellent communication

  • Collaborative nature

  • Inspirational leadership

  • Ability to drive change

  • Coaching/mentoring skills

  • Active listening

  • Ability to identify talent

  • Exceptional networking and relationship acumen

  • Ability to maintain confidentiality

Next steps

Moving from an operational or administrative HR role to the strategic responsibilities of an HRBP is an exciting opportunity for those who want to empower individuals, drive change, and support business objectives at a high level.

To launch an HRBP career, you might begin with Preparing to Manage Human Resources or learning about Human Resource Analytics on Coursera. You can also focus on your management skills with Strategic Leadership and Management or an Inspired Leadership specialization.

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