Your Guide to Understanding the HRBP Role

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A human resources business partner (HRBP) adds great value to an organisation. 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's. 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 organisation'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 organisation.

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 be involved in coaching executives, planning strategy, and analysing talent requirements. This individual brings a broader business knowledge to support HR alignment with overall organisational goals.

What does an HRBP do?

The HRBP is the person in human resources who champions change and 

provides strategic advice. Those in HRBP jobs can expect to partner closely with senior leadership to align the HR agenda with business goals. The HRBP must be a strong communicator since you'll present information to key stakeholders and relay high-level decisions throughout the organisation. 

Typical duties

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

  • Analysing and evaluating HR metrics 

  • Guiding HR policy and suggesting new strategies

  • Monitoring and reporting on workforce and succession

  • Identifying training needs and evaluating development programmes

  • Addressing employee grievances or issues with employee relations

  • Building relationships with internal leaders and colleagues

  • Driving organisational culture

  • Advocating for diversity and inclusion

  • Leveraging employees as brand ambassadors


In HRBP jobs, you'll work closely with business line managers. You'll typically also 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, programmes, and policies. 

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

As a strategic leader, the HRBP may establish stakeholder relationships and gain leadership buy-in. Sharing metrics and 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 to have proven human resources experience and an understanding of other business lines. HRBPs typically focus on the overall view of an organisation rather than daily administrative tasks, requiring more of a background in steering strategy and managing change.

Business background

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

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


Becoming an HRBP doesn't require you to have a specific degree. Still, you can expect employers to prefer a bachelor's degree in a field like business, human resources management, or psychology. 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 emphasise the following abilities:

  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

  • Ability to comprehend and apply pertinent 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. Prepare for a career in human resources with the HRCI Human Resource Associate Professional Certificate. Build the skills you need to recruit and retain talent, evaluate benefits, and manage employee relations as you earn a certificate for your resume.

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