Introduction

Many organisations use the HR business partnering model to organise HR. HR business partners work closely with business leaders and line managers to build capabilities, plan and manage talent, and develop approaches that achieve shared organisational objectives.

This factsheet explores what HR business partnering is and how it works, both within the organisation and as part of a HR team. It explores the roots of business partnering, the role of the business partner, and looks into the drivers for - and challenges to - the HR business partnering model. Finally, it offers guidance on implementing business partnering in an organisation and how it can be used to help businesses shape positive change – for the organisation, its workers and wider society.

Key takeaways

  • HR business partnering is a concept fundamental to both strategic and operational HR.
  • One size does not fit all - HR business partnering is all about context.
  • HR needs to understand, align, and partner with the organisation to demonstrate credibility.
  • HR needs to be trusted and credible if it is to be a true business partner.
  • HR business partnering is about being adaptive, proactive and a strategic enabler.

CIPD viewpoint

Business partnering has become a popular approach to organising HR, and there are different ways we can apply it in our own organisations to help us drive organisational success.

Whatever model we use to organise HR, the road to effectiveness lies not only in deeply understanding the business strategy, but in using that understanding to help shape positive change that contributes to achieving business objectives. This means HR needs to balance the needs of many different stakeholders – not only meeting the short-term financial goals of the business, but maintaining a perspective on overall organisational health, people and performance in the long-term.

As the CIPD, we’re developing a new Professional Standards Framework to guide good decisions, helping people professionals to enable, support and challenge the business to create long-term benefits for organisations, workers and wider society. It’s part of our wider Profession for the Future programme of work, looking at what it will take for our profession to fulfil its purpose in an ever more uncertain future.

Watch our video introducing HR business partnering

In this video, Giles O’Halloran outlines how HR business partnering adds value and gives his top tips.

Play Video
Giles O'Halloran, Lead Tutor for the CIPD’s HR Business Partner Programme, in interview with CIPD

What is HR business partnering?

Why implement HR business partnering?

How can HR business partnering be implemented?

How can organisations create effective HR business partnering?

What to consider when implementing HR business partnering

Further reading

This factsheet was last updated by Giles O’Halloran and Stuart Haden.

Giles O’Halloran: Lead Tutor for the CIPD’s HR Business Partner Programme

Giles has over two decades of experience working in HR and Recruitment. He currently works as a freelance HR strategist, mentor, and strategic business partner. He has developed, led and consulted on a number of CIPD programmes, and is passionate about HR business partnering being fundamental to HR’s capability. Giles maintains an active interest in strategic human capital subject matters, and has led seminars on the Future of HR, the Future of Recruitment, the Future of Work, Digital HR and the Digital Workplace.


Stuart Haden: CIPD Programme Manager

Stuart builds proposals and designs courses for UK and international clients. He manages the delivery of face to face and digital programmes, continuously refreshing content and producing new products.

A learning and development professional with over 25 years’ experience as a facilitator, coach and consultant, Stuart specialises in developing optimal performance with individuals, teams and organisations. Throughout his work he values authenticity, coachability and personal energy.

In 2013 he published his first book It’s not about the coach: getting the most from coaching in business, sport and life.

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