The Five Most Common Upskilling Needs for HR Business Partners hero

The Five Greatest Capability Gaps for HR Business Partners

As 50% of organizations surveyed by i4cp fear a post-pandemic talent exodus, recruiters everywhere strain to find diverse employees, and organizations grind on controversial decisions on how and where work happens—HR Business Partners (HRBPs) are playing a pivotal role in helping companies sustain culture and provide a positive employee experience.

hrbp developmental assessment

These challenges, coupled with the clear mandate for HRBPs to take care of business in areas such as talent planning, talent risk management, people analytics, and diversity, equity & inclusion, reinforce the need for HRBP development to become a higher priority for many organizations. Against this backdrop, what are the biggest capability gaps for HRBPs?

i4cp’s HRBP Development Assessment uses a multi-rater approach to evaluate six broad capabilities needed for success in the HR Business Partner role. The results of hundreds of HRBP assessments based on self, manager, peer, and business leader feedback provide a clear picture of the strengths and development needs of HRBPs.

Greatest HRBP Strengths

By far, the areas of greatest strength for HR Business Partners are Relationship and Interpersonal and HR Knowledge and Expertise.

The Relationship and Interpersonal capability area is a measure of an HRBP’s ability to form productive, trusting relationships with business leaders and peers, listen and communicate effectively, and be a role model for empathy and inclusion.

The HR Knowledge and Expertise capability area evaluates the level of HRBP familiarity with the functions and disciplines of HR, the component parts of the HR operating model, and the processes HR specialists and HRBPs use to work together and provide products & services to executives, managers, and employees.

Greatest Capability Gaps

When it comes to capability gaps, our analysis shows five capability areas routinely rate as the biggest development needs for HR Business Partners.

5. Identifying talent risk

Talent risk assessment is among the most strategic capabilities that successful HRBPs bring to the table. They need an understanding of internal/external trends and issues that affect the availability of people with the skills and abilities required by the organization’s strategies. HRBPs should have in-depth knowledge of the operating model of the business, its strategic plans, workforce demographics and trends, and available talent pools.

4. Developing talent strategies that align to the operating plan

Business strategies can only go so far without the necessary talent resources to execute them. HRBPs help drive achievement of business objectives by developing talent approaches to meet forecasted operating plan requirements and future needs. They work closely with business leaders and managers to ensure adequate talent plans are incorporated into the broader business strategy.

3. Understanding the M&A process—from due diligence considerations to integration strategies

High-performance organizations are 11x more likely to place a top priority on cultural synergies between two merging companies, and these companies are more likely to bring HR into the M&A process early. HRBPs play a key role in these events and must understand due diligence considerations, steps of the deal flow process, integration strategies and key roles, and the impact of M&A on organizational culture. Not every organization makes use of M&A as a business strategy, but when the time comes, HRBPs need to be prepared.

2. Understanding the financial performance indicators and metrics of the business unit or functional area supported

The ability to understand the financial performance indicators and metrics appropriate to the supported BU or functional area is consistently one of the lowest-rated capabilities to come out of our HRBP Development Assessment. HRBPs need to understand the operating strategies of the businesses and functions they partner with to provide recommendations and solutions that support key financial goals and help the bottom line. This is another capability that differentiates the strategic HRBP from those who provide primarily generalized HR support and solutions.

1. Using people analytics to influence decision making about the workforce

Our analysis shows the greatest capability gap for HRBPs is the ability to use people analytics to inform decision making. HRBPs should be able to identify important people data, analyze it, and tell the story with data to influence decision making about the workforce. HRBPs who can be relied upon to provide clear insights and aid in understanding the magnitude and implications of problems, such as communicating the financial implications of talent decisions, are the ones with the greatest impact.

Enlist your HR business partners in the next i4cp HRBP Development Cohort—starting August 2021.