SPEAKER 1: The following is a presentation of the ILR School at Cornell University-- ILR-- advancing the world of work.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: Hello and welcome to the ongoing CAHRS webcast series. My name is Beth Flynn-Ferry. I'm the managing director of CAHRS. And we're happy that you're tuning in today.
The topic today is going to be All Around HR for HR. We're going to focus on future trends that are impacting the HR function, where our operating models are in the HR function, and most specifically the role of the HR business partner and where that's going. Chris and Kelly-- and Katie are here today-- Chris Kelly and Katie Rapp-- was my error there-- are here. They're the CAHRS research associates who did the work on this study from during their fall semester. And they're going to be presenting most of the findings.
As a reminder we'd love to get your questions. So please submit those as we go along. And we'll take those at a couple of intervals. And just to let you know upfront, we will be providing the slides as well as a link to the webcast after in a day or so. So be looking for those to come your way. And with that, I'd like to turn it over to Chris.
CHRIS KELLY: Great. Thanks, Beth. And thank you again to our viewers for sharing your time with us today-- those with us live as well as those viewing the presentation later on the CAHRS website. We also wanted to extend a special thank you to the many HR leaders who participated in our research as interviewees over the past several months. Without you, we wouldn't have been able to put together this presentation. So thank you again very much for your time as well as your input.
So after doing some preliminary research to set the stage for our project, we had meaningful conversations with 57 HR leaders from 44 different CAHRS partner companies spread across 10 industries for about 45 minutes each. Our goal was to get their perspective on our primary research question, which you can see here. It's what are the key feature competencies for the HR business partner role. And how should we develop them?
And as part of our preliminary research we realized that we couldn't understand the future competencies for the HR business partner role without having a good understanding of the current state of the role as well as the key future of work trends that will impact the future of the role.
So in today's webcast we'll briefly summarize those key future of work trends that we discovered as part of our own research as well as with our conversations with those HR leaders. We'll also describe the current state of the our operating models using the familiar three legged stool model that envisions HR generalists alongside HR shared services alongside centers of excellence.
Then we'll share our findings on the HR business partner role through various interpretations, the definitions, and the profiles of what the role looks like today as well as what competencies will be critical for the role over the next five years. Finally, we'll share some key insights on career development-- so how companies are building their age our business partner talent today as well as the talent of tomorrow with some recommendations for incorporating the key future competencies into your existing HR career development frameworks.
So let's begin then with a brief summary of those key future of work trends that'll be relevant in shaping the future state of the HR business partner role. We found four trends that will be critical for the future of work and specifically for the HR business partner role. And you can see those here.
The first one's diverse demographics. And so what we mean by this is the mix of generations that will exist in the workplace in 2021. So by that time, there'll be four generations in the workplace. We all know that millennials will then be more than half of all workers. Generation X will be taking on more senior leadership positions. Baby boomers will still be around and retiring. And then Generation Z-- yes, the generation that comes after millennials-- will actually be entering the workforce as well. And each of those different generations are going to have different preferences that'll need to be managed in many cases by HR business partners.
And so related to this, the second key trend is flexible workplaces enabled by technology. Our preliminary research showed us that across generations nearly 70% of workers would change companies for more flexibility. And so with the rise of cloud based technologies as well as other collaborative technologies becoming increasingly more common, the ability to provide a flexible workplace is going to be even more important for the future.
All of our 57 interviewees agreed that these two trends that I just described are going to be critical for the future of work in the next five years. But a significant number of companies also identified two more trends. And so our third trend is the growth of the liquid workforce.
So who's going to be working for your company five years from now? Of course, we can't say for sure. But we know it's going to be a mix of full and part time employees, short and long term temps, and other contractors. And so leveraging this workforce-- controlling for its limitations is also a key trend that will impact the HR business partner role.
The fourth key trend is globalization. And this one-- it might not surprise you-- but the continued operational complexities, the competitiveness, and the uncertainty introduced by globalization-- that's just going to continue to intensify over the next five years and again will impact the future of work.
Be sure to keep each of these four trends in mind as we consider the current and the future state of the HR business partner role. But first it's useful to consider how the companies we interviewed structure their HR function to deliver value to their business.
HR transformation-- it's something that's been a hot topic for several years. And for many companies this transformation encompasses a shift of HR from a purely transactional function to a more strategic function. Companies have accomplished this transformation through the implementation of that three legged stool model that I described earlier. Again it envisions HR business partners alongside COEs as well as HR shared services.
And so in our interviews we asked companies to describe what does your HR operating model look like today at your company. And what we learned was that companies are in various stages of transformation to that HR-- to that three legged stool operating model. And so we group them into three categories, which you see on this slide in front of you.
The first category is those that are currently implementing the transformation. We call that In Progress. These are companies that might have some but not all of the legs of the three legged stool. And they might plan to launch an HR shared services group in the future. We've noticed that's often the third leg of the stool to be implemented. But they just haven't done so yet. It's noteworthy that only a few of the companies that we interviewed are at this initial stage of transformation.
The second category is those that have implemented the three legged stool model. So these are companies that are currently organized into it. And a majority of the companies that we interviewed are at this intermediate stage. And then the third category is those that have also implemented the transformation. But there is just some notable nuances, some features, or some interesting differences.
And I'll clarify here these aren't trends. This last group isn't a group of trends. These are exceptions to the general three legged stool model that we heard from the vast majority of companies.
So what were some of those nuances or those differences? One company has a role called market HR. This is a role that provides horizontal support within a geography rather than being aligned to a business unit, which was the case in the majority of the companies that we spoke with.
Another company has a separate role that connects HR business partners to relevant COEs when and where needed. That's the talent partner role that you see on the slide.
A few other companies have structured their shared services organization just a little bit differently. So for example, two companies have centralized teams of HR generalists in their shared services organizations. Others have deep COE experts in their shared services organizations as well as the transactional specialists that perhaps are more common in shared services.
And then one company maintains that shared services organization as part of the larger corporate shared services organization that exists above HR.
Our most interesting finding in our conversations about HR operating models with companies was that we didn't encounter any instances in which company operating models were significantly different from that three legged stool model, nor did we hear about models that took a step beyond the three legged stool model. In fact, most companies don't actually anticipate their HR operating model to change significantly in the next five years. But what they do anticipate are some smaller shifts.
So some examples of those shifts are certain COEs growing while others will decrease in size. The roles in each of the three legs of the stool become increasingly clear as well as specialized. And perhaps outsourcing will increase as well.
Ultimately companies concluded that while the overall architecture won't change, it's the way that the work is done as well as the level of investment within the three legs of the stool that will change. So with an understanding of the current state of HR operating models, I'll turn it over to Katie to focus in on the HR business partner role and consider what it looks like today at the companies that we spoke with.
KATIE RAPP: OK. Great. Thank you, Chris. So let's jump right in into looking at the HRBP role. So throughout our interviews Chris and I heard about multiple interpretations of the HRBP role. As companies are moving towards the three legged stool HR operating model we learned that companies are still clarifying what the HRBP role looks like at their companies.
So listed on this slide are three quotes from interviewed companies that illustrate this point. You'll see that they speak to the fluidity of the role as well as the fact that while some companies are titling the role HRBP, the role is actually taking on generalist responsibilities in practice.
Ultimately interpretations of the HRBP role varied in regards to title, structure and alignment, and responsibilities. In this graphic you'll see the different titles and structure that were described in interviews. Obviously the most common titles that we heard for the role were HRBP and HR generalist, and HRG.
But other titles that we heard where HR director, HR consultant, talent business advisor, and others. Regarding structure and alignment the majority of HRBPs were matched to business units and corporate functions. And others were matched by geography.
So amongst these varying interpretations of the HRBP role Chris and I strove to define HRBPs in contrast to HRGs based on interview trends, outside research, and original thinking. So as a result, we identified a number of job responsibilities as well as competencies for each of the roles.
So let's get started with the responsibilities for the HRBP role. The two roles fundamentally differ in that the HRBP has a strategic focus whereas the HRG focuses on the transactional aspects of the HR work. In this way the HRBP participates in strategy development both for the business and HR. And the HRBP serves as a trusted advisor and coach to its clients.
Within this more specifically it aids organizational effectiveness efforts by consulting on human capital solutions for business challenges.
HRGs interact with their clients in a different way. With responsibility for employee relations and tasks like policy investigations, HRGs foster and maintain the employee experience. They drive end to end processes from recruiting to staffing and ensure completion of cyclical activities such as performance management. As HR operating models are evolving more advanced shared services groups are actually taking control of some of these responsibilities.
So based on these differing responsibilities HRBPs and HRGs require different skill sets. So whereas HRBPs need deep business and financial acumen to add value to their clients, HRGs can support clients by way of HR acumen or HR knowledge. For HRBPs companies noted important competencies like strategic thinking, change management, consulting, coaching, and courage, whereas for HRGs, the most important competencies were more task based, such as problem solving-- oh, I'm sorry. Back to this--
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: No, you're right.
KATIE RAPP: Oh, OK. Back to this slide, for HRGs the tasks were more based on tasks like problem solving and managing ambiguity as well as relationship focus, such as communication. So obviously HRBPs and HRGs share some similarities as both are employee facing HR roles. Most notably HRBPs and HRGs seem to handle talent management processes. So these could be sharing leadership development programs or more tactical pieces like succession planning. At the core HRBPs and HRGs are rooted in the competency of relationship management in order to have effective partnerships with their clients.
So the takeaway here is that HRBPs can be distinguished from HRGs in terms of their strategic nature and their proximity to organizational priorities both in terms of the projects that they're working on as well as their clients.
So given these definitions, we segmented the interviewed companies into three categories with respect to the HRBP role. Starting on the left we have 35% of companies in the category of what we're calling pure HRBP roles. These roles are aligned to senior leaders of business units or corporate functions. They have strategic responsibilities, including some of those that were defined on the previous slide, such as strategy development, human capital, consulting, and professional coaching.
Within the HR operating model of these roles work in partnership with COEs and shared services. Specifically they're enabled to complete the strategic work, because shared services is primarily handling the transactional aspects of the job. In the middle 26% of companies have what we are calling HRG roles. In some instances, these roles align directly with senior business leaders. And in other instances, they support general employee populations of a specific business unit.
While the alignment is similar to that of the pure HRBP group, HRG responsibilities are mostly focused on generalist tasks, like employee relations and workforce planning. We inferred from interviews with some companies that in this category some companies see this role as aspiring towards developing into a pure HRBP role.
And on the right we have 40% of companies that take a multi-tiered approach with both HRBPs and HRGs. HRBPs are aligned to senior business leaders. And teams of HRGs support the general employee populations that sit below those leaders. Within this structure HRBPs is leverage business acumen to provide strategic consulting for the business while HRGs use HR knowledge to drive execution of day to day tasks.
Within these profiles there are a few notable points. A number of companies had HRBPs aligned to geographies in addition to or instead of business units and corporate functions. For example, one company had a global HR group that defines people strategy for a specific line of business and local HRBP group that tailors HR practices to the region.
Secondly, within the pure HRBP profile as well as the HRBP and HRG profile, there seems to be a link between seniority and the strategic level of the job. So for example, more senior HRBPs will work on more strategic projects. And more senior HRBPs will also be aligned to more senior business leaders.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: Great. Well, we do have a question that's come in. And I'd encourage everyone to send in your questions as we go along here. But here's one. It's surprising to see that 66% of the companies fall into profiles two and three. And given that profile one seems to be the most strategic, how do you explain that?
KATIE RAPP: Yeah, that's a great question and one that Chris and I actually discussed a lot about. And so obviously in looking at these profiles we see as Beth said that the majority of companies are falling into profile two and profile three-- so the HRGs and the HRBP and HRG.
And so what this signals to us is that perhaps as we're moving towards the three legged stool HR operating model some companies have not yet taken full advantage of the true value of the model. So ideally within this model the generalist work is taken out of that HR business partner role. But right now we're seeing some companies that are stuck in the middle of trying to do both the strategic as well as the tactical work.
So a few factors we along throughout the process we thought could be explaining this-- one could be that COEs and shared services may not be working in the most optimized way as possible, especially as companies are building up their shared services capability, which is capability that's not necessarily a traditional HR skill set. Another-- hand-in-hand with that, you know, HRBPs could have a lack of trust that the work that they've previously owned will continue to be delivered with high quality now that it's being transitioned to COEs and shared services.
And on the other hand, we also had conversations about how perhaps there's specific generalist work that simply can't be put into COEs and shared services, because it's so specialized to a geography or a region. So ultimately we had a couple of really interesting conversations with companies who felt that in general their employee bases are continuing to demand this type of tactical work from HRBPs even though they've adopted the three legged stool model.
So we feel that with that demand HRBPs might feel an obligation to continue to deliver that type of work as well as might feel accomplishment from doing these executional tasks. So there might be room in the future for HR to create a cultural shift perhaps first by starting with line leaders around how the employee bases are understanding the type of support that HRBPs should be providing to the organization and to employees.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: Great. Thanks. With that, let's turn back to the content again and talk about the current state and future state of the HRBP competencies.
CHRIS KELLY: Great. So then after gaining an understanding of the current state of the HR business partner role, we also asked companies in our interviews what do they believe will be the critical competencies for HR business partners five years from now. And so what we heard in those conversations was interesting for a couple of different reasons.
The first one is that companies do believe there's a set of competencies that will be really core and critical to the successful execution of the role in the future. And the interesting point here for us was that companies in very diverse industries tended to agree on those competencies. And we'll go through them shortly.
And the second reason is having heard the different competencies that companies believe will be critical for the role in the future, Katie and I were able to work together to identify a set of competencies, which we're calling differentiator competencies that really relate to the future of work trends that we identified at the outset of the presentation that we believe will help differentiate HRBP talent in the future. So then let's walk through each of those sets of competencies in turn.
The core competencies are identified in the bottom row of the slide that you see here. And so those are business acumen-- so the ability to understand business drivers as well as how organizational strategy relates to human capital strategy. And about 30% of the companies we spoke with identified this as a core competency for the future.
And the second one is data and analytics-- so the ability to both identify as well as leverage data to make informed human capital decisions that influence the business. And about 40% of the companies that we spoke with identified this one as a core competency for the future. Now these are two competencies-- these first two that I just described-- that might not be surprising to you. And hearing them in our interviews really show to us that while they're relevant today, they're going to become even more critical to the role in the future. But this third competency that you see in the bottom right here-- this is the one that was especially interesting for us.
And so this is the talent translator competency. This the ability to take business needs and translate them into talent given how the work is actually expected to be done. And so the HRBPs who had this competency-- they have the ability to build needs into what we call talent profiles to know whether, for example, in a given situation a role is best filled by internal talent, by external talent, by someone who's a full time worker, by someone who's a part time worker, or perhaps even a contractor, and so on.
And so you can see this competency is very much related to that liquid workforce trend that we described earlier. And about 15% of the companies that we spoke with identified this one as a core competency for the future.
So then moving up to the top row these are the differentiator competencies-- the ones that will really differentiate HR business partner talent in the future. And so the first one is business contributor. More than an understanding of strategy, which is inherent in the business acumen core competency, the business contributor can add identifiable and quantifiable value to the business through human capital practices.
So one example of the way this could show up in practice could be the ability to consistently provide reliable ROI estimates on human capital initiatives before they're implemented that then carry through to the end of the initiative, because that'll help build accountability and credibility and again differentiate that HR business partner.
The second one is technology champion. So this is the ability to recognize emerging technology trends that will impact business performance as well as champion their usage throughout the organization. So we heard from some companies about how they expect their HR business partners to be able to use, for example, emerging forms of social media to communicate with millennial workers inside the workplace in many of the same ways that those workers already communicate with each other outside of the workplace.
The third differentiator competency is what we're calling internal boundary spanner. So this is the ability to work and influence decision making across corporate boundaries-- so outside of the business partner's specific role to different functions or to different business units. And so one example of how this could show up in practice could be the ability to connect your business partner colleagues to COE experts that you've personally worked with to accelerate the delivery of that business partner's HR initiatives to their businesses, which will then further drive organizational performance overall.
Finally, there's one that we're calling external stakeholder relationships. And so this is one that goes beyond the internal boundary spanner competency that I just described. This is the ability to maintain important relationships outside of the company. And one example of this could be the ability to develop partnerships with nonprofit organizations that align with the company's mission.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: Great. Well, I've got a couple of questions here one is different. So does the HR and the business view strategic work the same way? So said differently, does important work to the business get labeled as administrative and tactical by HR?
KATIE RAPP: Yeah, so that's a really interesting question. And I think it does relate to what we spoke a little bit about earlier of what employees are asking for with the HRBP. So perhaps that might show that there is a bit of a mismatch in terms of the business having certain demands that need to get done and HRBPs wanting to contribute in a more-- how they envision-- strategic way.
So when we're thinking about strategic from an HR perspective we've turned to things like being able to provide human capital solutions for business challenges, being able to think about how to optimize organizational structure and practices and things like that. But it is a good point that the business could be just needing to get certain things handled to contribute to their projects and their priorities.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: And I think the way, you know, an employee may view some of that tactical work as important. But I think the business would probably align more on the strategic aspects of the business that HR would, because it should support the business strategy I would say too.
KATIE RAPP: Yeah.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: So here's one more too on the competency question. People are interested in the external stakeholder relationship one and are asking about HR's role in influencing more broadly. And how else will this new role show up for business partners in the future?
CHRIS KELLY: Yeah, so that's a great question and one that we kind of talked to the companies about specifically during our interviews, because we had again found this competency super interesting. And so we do think that HR is going to need to become more increasingly externally focused.
Some of the ways this could show up in the future include the nonprofit partnership example that I already gave but other relationship management efforts that perhaps are more broad. So other examples could be HR business partners partnering with organizations that advance company corporate social responsibility initiatives. HR business partners could be expected to sit on relevant industry boards to influence that way.
And we think HR business partners will also have an opportunity to work with local governments to refine employee value propositions as those are becoming increasingly customized at a local level. Those are just a few of the sentiments that we heard from companies that raised this competency. And at the end of the day, you know, HR today is expected to really shape internal culture. And we think in the future HR business partners will be expected to shape external brand as well.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: And here's one more-- someone surprised we're not seeing more focus on consulting or org effectiveness as differentiators in the competencies. The ones listed are really good. But this person would also want very strong OE acumen in the future. What did you find there as you talked to companies?
KATIE RAPP: So interestingly we actually heard from a lot of companies that consulting and organizational effectiveness were expected competencies of the HR business partners. So it's interesting to hear that some people see them as differentiators. And perhaps maybe it is an area where in the future HR functions will have to have greater attention to truly developing those skill sets but definitely came up as one that is crucial for that role and especially in order to add value to their business partners.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: And did you see maybe more companies have more of that in the COEs and OEOD versus expecting it from the business partner and you're really talking more about the business partner role? Do you think that's part of it? Or--
CHRIS KELLY: Yeah, so one of the nuances in the HR operating model section that we talked about was a company that has a talent partner role that kind of straddles the HR business partner role as well as the COEs. And the company that described that role to us really identified exactly those competencies as core to the execution of that role.
So some companies are actually seeing those competencies falling outside of the business partner role into a completely third one.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: OK. Great. Great. Well, let's go back to content and talk about how we're developing our HR business partners.
KATIE RAPP: Great. So we'll dive right in to HRBP career development. So a critical question for companies is given these future key competencies for HRBPs how should they be developed? So currently companies employ a number of career development strategies. 11% of interviewed companies told us about their rotational programs for recent graduates meant to provide a talent pipeline for those strategic HRBP roles.
Not surprisingly, 39% of companies talked about their training and development programs, specifically aimed at building capability in areas, specific to the HRBP roles, such as business acumen or data analytics. And a little more interestingly 75% of companies pointed to developmental experiences as important for HRBP career development. Many companies acknowledge that there are diverse paths to that HRBP role. So experiences as opposed to a prescribed set of roles will more effectively prepare aspiring HRBPs.
Finally, we also heard about buy strategies from companies about building capability within HRBP groups that's currently absent. So one company explained that the pace of business does not always allow for build strategies as it takes time to build these competencies. But the business needs those that expertise immediately.
Other companies said that they will buy talent for specialized knowledge areas, such as data analytics, where they don't have a core competency yet developed. So in addition to speaking to companies about career development strategies, we also wondered how competency models fit in. We learned that 31% of competencies-- of companies-- have and use competency models for the HRBP role. Within this 13% of them use competency models for career planning. And 34% of them use competency models for development.
On the other hand, 34% of companies-- about just as many-- do not use competency models. So they're either outdated. They don't have them. Or they're currently being refreshed. Qualitatively we heard that companies-- we heard from companies that competency models are a lot of work without evidence of strong value.
So this data demonstrated that competency models might not be effective tools in all situations. But they seem to be most useful in terms of career planning and development and the development realm. So from this we recall the emerging trend of career of using developmental experiences to build careers and inferred that companies could benefit from a sustainable tool that links competencies to developmental experiences.
CHRIS KELLY: Great. So as you just heard from Katie, we heard from-- the companies are really looking for a different way to build future competencies other than through traditional career development strategies or application of competency models. And so what you see on this slide in front of you is an experience map. And what this map does is it combines a set of core and differentiator competencies and links them to specific experiences that really can be a starting point for you to help build your HR business partner talent for the future.
And this map has three parts, which we'll walk through. The first one is what we're calling the what. So what do we need our HR business partners to do? These are the core and differentiator competencies that are going to be most relevant for your company, such as the ones that we've already discussed. But there could be others. These are the blue boxes that you see on the slide.
The second part is the where. So what kinds of experiences will help build those competencies? And where are the business partners going to get those experiences? This is actually the hard part.
So the choice for which experience to develop which competency is going to depend on a variety of factors. It's going to be specific to the individual at hand. And these are the gray boxes that you see on this slide are the experiences.
The third part's how well. So this is an assessment or evaluation process that occurs throughout-- so before, during, and after the experience. At the outset, it's going to be really important for you to assess the individual-- so the HR business partner at hand. If you've identified the set of core and differentiator competencies, does that HR business partner actually need the one that you're thinking of? It may be that they already have it.
And if they do need to build it, you then need to select the experience. Which one is going to be most likely to build that competency if we decide it needs to be built? And then after the experience is completed, you'll want to assess has it actually built the desired competency. And if it hasn't, ask why not, because it may be an issue with performance. But it also may simply be that the experience didn't work as expected.
So you can see this slide. It shows a generic description of how the different pieces of the map fit together. But to make it more concrete we'll walk through an example of how it would work in practice.
So this example combines the core and the differentiator competencies that we presented earlier into our experience map. So walking through each of the steps-- for the what, what do we need our HR business partners to do? So this example, again, links the core differentiator competencies we already presented to each other to show how they can be developed and in turn and in many ways how they build on each other.
For example, if you focus on the middle of the slide after developing the talent translator core competency, the HR business partner would be well positioned to leverage his or her knowledge of talent throughout the organization to develop that boundary spanner differentiator competency.
The second part is the where. So what kinds of experiences will build those competencies? In this example, the talent translator competency could be built through a COE experience perhaps even at a talent management COE experience. The internal boundary spanner competencies-- so the middle of the top row-- that one could be developed through enterprise project management experience, such as the implementation of maybe a new cloud based HRIS system that faces the entire enterprise.
And I'll reiterate the point here that these experiences that I'm describing-- these aren't prescriptive. There are many other experiences that could build these competencies. Then, the third part is the how well. So we'll assume for purposes of this example that the HR business partner does need to build a talent translator core competency and that the COE experience that's listed here is the chosen experience to get it. But again each of these will need to be assessed.
The takeaway here is that that assessment process does need to be ongoing, starting with the choice of the business partner and then continuing on to the initial choice of the experience. The assessment continues throughout the role and then really is completed after the role is-- or or after the experience is completed to assess how well the experience built the competency.
A few final notes on this-- so this map-- it doesn't require radical changes to your existing career development model. But it's also not one that fits every situation. So thinking about rotational programs-- this map could serve as a guide when you're choosing which experiences or which rotations to provide to participants. But if you think about more broadly training and development, there may be some competencies such as more technical competencies that are better built through formal training rather than through providing experiences.
Another point I'll make is if you think back to our HRBP profile, so there was that third profile that had the multi-tiered approach of HR business partners supported by teams of generalists. That might be a model that allows for a consistent source of experiences for you to draw on when you're thinking about which experiences should we provide for this HR business partner's development to build the competency that we're interested in.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: Great. We do have a few questions coming in around this topic. So two related one here-- is there research that shows when and what development should be provided in one's career stage? And another one that's, looking at the experience map are you suggesting these are the experiences that every HR business partner should have? And how do you choose-- how do companies choose which ones are right for different people?
KATIE RAPP: Yeah, to answer that first question-- Chris, you might have thoughts-- but in speaking with companies we did ask about development in terms of career stages. And across the board we didn't hear too much nuance around that topic. What we did hear was that those rotational programs are mostly targeted towards early and career individuals. But beyond that we in our research we didn't come across to much around career stage.
CHRIS KELLY: Yeah, we didn't. We will note that this experience map and this process could be quite resource intensive. And so because it's resource intensive, it may be really well suited for a high potential development program that you're rolling out to a very small subset of employees. It may not be feasible given the constraints on your organization to roll this out to everyone more broadly.
KATIE RAPP: Yeah, that's a great point. And so to the second question on what are the right experiences to develop, as Chris mentioned it might be tempting to ask for a prescribed set of experiences that will perfectly develop all HRBPs. But as we mentioned the ones that we've provided are simply examples.
So what we do recommend is those core experiences in the business COE and shared services space. So that mirrors the HR operating model and was also backed up by recommendations from the interviewed companies who said that COE experience gives HRBPs an enterprise point of view as well as an understanding of HR programs. And shared services experience gives HRBPs an understanding of common processes.
Beyond that, there are several variables that would shape which types of experiences you would want to offer your employees. So we'll reiterate again that the experiences that are offered should be very dependent on the individual. So Chris mentioned that individuals should be evaluated prior to the experience to understand if the planned experience is appropriate for them.
So if an individual is actually transitioning from marketing into HR, they may not need a cross-functional business rotation. Secondly, as Chris was just alluding to, it's also dependent on the amount of time and money that the company has to invest in these experiences. So not all experiences are feasible for all companies. Global rotations, for example, might have greater monetary investment. And business rotations might take critical talent away from HR priorities.
And a final factor is around how well companies can evaluate which experiences will provide opportunities to develop what competencies. So for example, international experiences are often thought to allow people to get cultural awareness and adaptability. But just because an individual is working abroad doesn't necessarily mean that they're interacting with the local community.
So we have talked about how we hope and believe in the future that HR data analytics will play a crucial role in helping us to understand relationships between competencies and experiences and that we'll be able to leverage HR data analytics to predict which experiences will offer the best opportunities to develop certain skill sets.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: Great. I've got a couple more questions here. So how much of the split between the HRBP and HRGs really exists now just based on level? And how much is a more formal split? And then I have a follow up too.
KATIE RAPP: Yeah, what we did hear from companies was that in the-- which I think we reflected in the slides but is that-- when there is that split of the HRBPs and the HRGs it tended to be alongside a seniority spectrum. So the HRBPs were more senior. And the HRGs were more junior.
CHRIS KELLY: Yeah, and there were a few companies that did kind of centralize the HRGs into a shared services organization and then left the HR business partners facing the business as well.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: And related to that, do you see issues in demotivation of people in HRG roles where they would feel HRBP work is more strategic and HRG work is not?
CHRIS KELLY: Yeah, so we did hear from companies that the kind of more strategic nature of the HR business partner role may not be for everyone. And it may not be for all current HR generalists. So HR functions who are making this transition to a more strategic kind of HR business partner role are doing some hard thinking and having some hard conversations around what's the right talent profile for their HR business partners.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: OK.
KATIE RAPP: And it's all about understanding what the aspirations of your different employees are. So as Chris said, some people might find the strategic work to be frustrating, because they see less implementation and execution of their ideas and projects. And so some general-- some employees might prefer the generalist environment of being able to accomplish tasks on a daily basis and work more closely with clients.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: OK. Back to the operating model, another question here-- did we have the opportunity to compare the size of the three legged stool? In other words, how many HRBPs are there compared to the size of the organization? Did you find anything there?
CHRIS KELLY: Yeah, so it varied widely. My recollection is that we had a company that was either kind of 1 HR business partner for every 20 to 40 employees. And it ranged all the way up to 1 business partner for every 200 employees or so.
KATIE RAPP: Yeah, we did look at what percentage of the operating model is the HRBP group. And it was really surprising to us, because that percentage ranged from 25% all the way to 75%. So we tried to tease out what that could mean and kind of attributed it to potentially size of the company as well as different industries and trends within those industries.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: OK. We've got a couple of minutes left. So Chris or Kelly, do you want to wrap up? And we'll go from there.
KATIE RAPP: I'll jump in to rap up.
KATIE RAPP: Sure. Yeah.
KATIE RAPP: OK. Great. So to wrap up the presentation it's clear that there are several key trends that will shape the way that we work in the next five years ranging from diverse demographics to globalization. HRBPs will play a critical role in managing the impacts of these trends within the workplace causing their roles to become more complex and more integrated with other areas of the company than ever before.
HR operating models aren't expected to change radically. But many companies have targeted the development of the strategic HR business partner role as an aspirational goal and are still working towards realizing that. Additionally, companies are more and more focused on how HRBPs will interface with COEs and shared services as well as how the work will get done within those groups.
So given these evolving macro trends and the continued transformation of the HR operating model, HRBPs will be more crucial to the successful delivery of value from the function required to build familiar and emerging competencies and will be more visible both internally and externally. So it'll be up to HR as a function to prepare our business partners for this challenge through new approaches to HR talent development like the one that we've proposed here.
So again, Chris and I would like to thank you very much for tuning in today to hear our research findings. A big thank you again to all the companies and Hr leaders who have participated in the study. And thank you to our advisor, Beth Flynn-Ferry for your great guidance.
BETH FLYNN-FERRY: Terrific. Well, and we want to just say thank you to all of you for dialing in today. As I mentioned before, we will post the webcast link as well as the slides and a paper that Chris and Katie are preparing for you. And we did get a couple of questions that due to time we won't be able to answer right now. But we'll do some follow up on those as well.
So again, thanks for tuning in. And we'll see you in 2017 at our next CAHRS webcast.
SPEAKER 1: This has been a production of the ILR School at Cornell University.
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Many companies are in the midst of an "HR transformation" in which the HR function is transitioning their operating model to one that allows HR leaders to operate more strategically by redefining HR into three key areas: HR Business Partners, Center of Excellence and HR Shared Services. This, coupled with critical trends shaping the future of work (e.g., changing demographic mix of employees and technological advancement), is further evolving HR operating models and the HR Business Partner role. The implications of these changes is unclear in today's HR Business Partners, especially with respect to the competencies that will be critical within the next five years.
Having interviewed 35+ CAHRS partner companies, CAHRS Research Assistants (RA's) Chris Kelly and Katie Rapp discuss critical trends shaping the future of work; continued transformations of HR operating models, current and future states of the HR Business Partner role, and strategies for closing competency gaps.