Acing it on the debut – New Shores IC’s Prof. Smitha Baiju

Leading by example has yet another example at Newshores college Bangalore.  Newshores’ HR Assistant Prof. Smitha Baiju’s debut paper on ‘Roles and Challenges of Human Resource Business Partners’ was selected for presentation at the ‘National Conference on Managing Human Resource in the Knowledge Era’ organised by Loyala College, Chennei.


The synopsis of the paper is below:   

One of the dominant approaches in the field of human resource management during the last five years has been to analyse the changing role of human resource professionals and emerging trends. These studies have been useful in generating awareness of the links between human resource management and strategic management, as also in offering insights into the rationale for the linkage.
During the past decades HR was viewed as an administrative function of processing employee paperwork, benefits, maintaining employee personal files, and planning company events as the company cheerleader; but today’s HR professionals must be strategic business partners to all profit and cost centres within the organization. The increased competition for HR talent that can deliver true strategic value and a changing workforce has again brought HR as a business partner to the forefront.
In this new role, HR professionals who are managers and supervisors must take on the emerging roles of business partner, change agent, and leader in new organizational structures different from the past. This becomes more challenging, as HR professionals try to meet this challenge while continuing day-to-day tactical and operational management of HR. These new expectations and demands, combined with a steady decrease in HR staff, means a once stable occupation is entering uncharted territory. On top of these changes, many HR departments must do all of this with a downsized staff that does not have the expertise needed to meet the demands.
Human resource business partners are human resource specialists who can take up role of aligning with organization goals to improve business performance and develop organizational culture. Business partnering refers to the way that the human resource function is restructured into different roles, with the aim of providing improved human resource services to the organisation. In this new role, human resource professionals who are managers and supervisors must take on the emerging roles of business partner, change agent, and leader in radically new organizational structures, quite different from those of the past.

Goodge (2005) highlighted the reasons for the move to HR partnering and the advantages it can bring. He also suggested three essentials of successful HR partnering: understanding, resources and credibility, and suggested on judging readiness for partnering, and for putting the key requirements in place. He advanced the view that there is no one best way to implement partnering; the HR model and its pace of introduction should be tailored to the organization.

Martinez (1997) explained that successful business leaders must also analyze how economic and societal changes will affect their businesses now and in the future. Companies are always searching for the best way to measure performance. And increasingly, employers are taking a hard look at what top managers are doing to produce quantifiable results, numbers that really add value to the bottom line. But in order to produce satisfactory numbers, successful business leaders must also analyze how economic and societal changes will affect their businesses now and in the future. He also suggested that HR leaders who have become total business partners usually follow three critical strategies: delivering the numbers, maximizing people performance and understanding and applying the latest business trends.

Turner (2006)2 examined the context of the role, the needs and opportunities arising from this context and the challenges of becoming a business partners, which are grouped into business challenges like global competition, advances in technology; organizational challenges like alignment of mission, vision, strategy, structure, systems and values; people challenges like attracting, selecting, assessing, appreciating, motivating, challenging, developing, promoting, listening to, supporting, measuring and rewarding. This approach is vital in making sound strategic business decisions.

The present study examines the roles, responsibilities, competencies required for human resource business partners in India across different industries. The study addresses the following questions: what are the roles and responsibilities of HR business partners in organizations in various industries, what are the required competencies for HR business partners, what are the challenges faced by HR business partners in different industries, and what are the contributions of HR business partnering to organizational performance.

3.1 Benefits
The business partner model relieves pressure from management to hone employee job skills for efficiency and productivity, as well as identifying, developing and grooming key employees for advancement. Human resource personnel are also responsible for analysing employee review data. This allows HR personnel to recognize strengths, which they may then further develop to place employees more effectively, and weaknesses, which they may correct with further job skill training or disciplinary action. 

3.2 Challenges
If the HR department is already overworked with everyday employee relation issues, there may not be adequate time and personnel to devote to partnering with the business for additional functions. The business partner model requires HR to be involved in almost every aspect of the business, including production statistics, financial status and sales projections. Management buy-in may also be a challenge, as the traditional role of human resources is extended to that of an overseer of the entire business in the business-partner model.

3.3 Features
In theory, the HR business partner model is designed to positively impact the business on all levels over time. By being involved in the recruiting process, HR is able to more carefully screen and choose individuals best suited for the jobs. In the training and development process, HR is able to pinpoint which employees need particular training and ensure that it is carried out. In knowing the inner workings of the business, the strategic nature of the HR partnership model is tasked with a corporate chess game of employee and manager placement to achieve the most productive outcome.

3.4 Change
The primary reason that companies consider and implement the HR business model is change. Whether to grow the business or to make it more competitive, productive, and efficient or to solve problems, change in the business paradigm is often necessary. The HR business model handles the changes and improvements necessary by investing in what is known as “human capital.” Proponents of the model recognize that the personal success and job satisfaction of the individual is one of the keys to business success, and a well-run HR partner model is ideally suited to focus on both the needs of the individual and the company.

3.5 Considerations
Businesses considering the HR business partner model need to consider the specialized nature of different model aspects, and hire, train or outsource HR specialists. Expecting a one-person HR office to handle generalist duties on top of recruiting, interviewing, training, reviews and strategic planning will result in frustration and possible program failure for all involved. The HR business partner model requires a conscious decision to change and the hiring of a sufficient force of specialized HR talent to see it through.

There were several interesting issues addressed by the present study, culminating in a model to ascertain the requirements for HRBP and their functions. The basic issues addressed were the roles and responsibilities of HR business partners, the competencies required, range of work experience for selection, and the challenges they face, and their contribution to organisational performance.

There were a wide variety of competencies and challenges for HR business partners in changing economies. Further, there is a relation between the diversity and the execution flexibility attributes for all human resource professionals, varying in hierarchy of HR. Based on the results of the study, a model has been developed determining the competencies required to choose HR business partners according to the role of execution and diversity. The model was developed to identify the role of HR business partners in comparison with the role of other HR professionals. The model is important and useful to measure and determine the designation of HR professionals in organizations. It is also useful to demarcate the various positions in human resources.

New Shores student council and academic team is proud of her. Way to go mam!

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