How to be an effective HR business partner

By Robert Half on 4 August 2023
Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes

Did you know that employers with Human Resources (HR) capabilities are 5.5 times more likely to be more profitable than their peers and six times more innovative?

The immense power of Singapore’s HR industry has led to a new five-year HR Industry Transformation Plan (HR ITP) led by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

With an aim to strengthen the HR profession and evolve its role to drive strategy and operational excellence, it’s clear that HR is on an upward trajectory.

There are currently over 6,800 HR professionals certified by the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP), with the government aiming for 15,000 by 2027.

With rising HR focus comes a new wave of specialty HR roles, including the Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP). A human resources business partner job description is diverse - these strategic professionals work with business leaders to drive organisations towards their objectives to stay competitive, leverage opportunities and harness top talent.

This blog will explore the HRBP role, offering insights into what you need to excel, the initiatives you could drive, as well as the strategies to help you keep up with the changing landscape of the role.

Whether you’re considering a career as an HRBP or, you want to know how to up your game as a current HRBP, you’re sure to discover how to maximise your impact!

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Human Resources Business Partner Job Description

The human resources business partner job description has undergone significant transformation in recent years, particularly in Singapore. Facing a rapidly evolving business landscape, HR professionals have been forced to adapt and embrace new strategies to keep up with the evolving needs of businesses.

Historically, HR managers have had specific administration responsibilities within their department. In the case of HRBPs, the responsibilities are much more strategic, requiring them to balance their employee focus with distinct business needs.

As a strategic conduit between HR and the business, effective HRBPs demonstrate an acute understanding of the business to optimise HR activities. Through direct partnership with line managers, HRBPs can deliver organisational value, shape decision making and align their HR initiatives with management priorities.

Overseeing everything from hiring to employee relations, training to team building, HRBPs are true “all-rounders”. A source of sustained, strategic solutions, HRBPs are trusted to fuel an organisation’s business strategy.

Related: What does a HR Director do in Singapore?

Human Resources Business Partner Salary Guide

According to Robert Half Singapore’s 2023 Salary Guide, HRBP salaries begin at $84,000 and reach up to $108,000, with a midpoint salary of $96,000.

This sought-after role extends beyond the traditional HR functions, providing a strategic partnership to drive business success. Surpassing the “people savvy” requirement of a general HR role, Singapore HRBPs must demonstrate a heightened level of business savviness along with a variety of other essential qualifications, skills and competencies.

What you need to be an effective HRBP

Susan Koh, senior division director at Robert Half, says the human resources business partner job description demands uniquely qualified candidates. “While many HR professionals are attracted to HRBP positions, few possess the winning combination of competencies that can really help them to tackle the challenges of the role”, she says.

“When vetting these candidates, we aren’t just looking for an admin expert and employee advocate, we expect HRBPs to be strategic change agents who will drive positive impacts.”

Let’s explore the requirements that can influence the success of an HRBP.

Experience and Qualifications

Most candidates who transition into an HRBP role have at least 5 years of experience in multiple HR roles (more senior HRBPs will have 10+ years). Generally, top candidates hold a master’s degree in Human Resource Management (or similar) with additional certifications. These often include HR (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certifications among others. 


The human resources business partner job description requires many skills but, six are central to effectiveness and efficiency in the role. With these essential attributes, HRBPs in Singapore can navigate the evolving HR landscape and leave a lasting impact on their organisation.

1. Business Acumen

While there are elements of an HRBP role that are interchangeable between industries, industry specific knowledge is pivotal. Success is fuelled by a deep understanding of business goals, culture and strategy as well as wider industry trends.

This acute awareness equips HRBPs with the power to make informed decisions about how to optimise their initiatives in light of company objectives.

Business acumen allows HRBPs to better support their stakeholders and offer valuable insights and recommendations.

2. Advanced Communication

In order to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with colleagues and stakeholders, HRBPs must possess exceptional communication skills.

As the conduit between HR and the business, they must harness a collaborative communication style built on active listening, clear articulation of ideas, appropriate resistance responses and the ability to convey complex HR concepts in a concise and understandable manner.

Commanding presentation skills are the key to selling ideas and influencing business decisions to drive positive change.

3. Data Literacy

Data interpretation, collection and creation is an essential part of the human resources business partner job description. With data influencing a significant amount of business decisions, effective HRBPs have the literacy to digest complex data and pivot accordingly.

Digital Literacy

In this age of remote working, the employee experience is no longer limited to an office. It’s crucial for HRBPs to leverage technology to meet the changing professional landscape while driving efficiency and positive business outcomes. A depth of expertise will see an effective HRBP integrate the right technology to bolster productivity, engagement and employee satisfaction.

4. People Advocacy

While the human resources business partner job description revolves around business support, the support of the people within it cannot be understated. As an HRBP, advocating for employees and ensuring they are treated fairly, is central to ensuring business success.

Productivity and cultural harmony hinges on employee satisfaction and an effective HRBP will work to continually elevate the employee experience.

Promptly recognising and addressing employee needs is critical to increasing retention, boosting engagement and enhancing corporate culture.

A skilled HRBP also acknowledges the importance of cultural sensitivity and inclusivity in the workplace. This helps to establish a fair and progressive environment that embraces different perspectives, contributing to organisational success.

5. Legislation Expertise

Singapore has a comprehensive legal framework governing employment practices. As an HRBP in Singapore, it’s essential to have an advanced knowledge of these evolving employment laws and regulations. This knowledge ensures compliance with statutory requirements, minimises legal risks, and promotes fair and ethical practices within the business.

A strong grasp on employment legislation allows HRBPs to provide informed advice to management and employees.


Proactivity is the defining characteristic of an HRBP mindset. It allows these professionals to hit the ground running to alleviate the stress on businesses. They lead the conversation rather than just contributing to it and provide actional plans for success, aligning strategies with organisational goals, streamlining processes and optimising talent management practices.

Strategic thinking and problem-solving abilities are key to many responsibilities within the human resources business partner job description. Identifying emerging HR trends, mediating employee issues, anticipating future challenges and developing innovative HR solutions all demand an advanced HR mindset.

Related: Human Resources business partner - job description & skills

HRBP Initiatives

Central to the human resources business partner job description is the development of impactful initiatives to drive business success. As an HRBP, there are several initiatives that can assist in the support of your business objectives, including:

  1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs - to champion an inclusive workplace that values diversity and innovation. This might include: awareness programs, support groups and culture building activities.
  2. Employee Wellness Programs - to promote and improve the physical, mental and emotional well-being of employees. Coordinating and raising awareness of programs like mindfulness sessions, stress management workshops and physical activities, can help to build healthier, happier employees.
  3. Performance Management and Development Programs – to align individual goals with organisational objectives. An effective HRBP will deploy a robust performance management plan that includes: regular feedback, goal setting and professional development through training, coaching and succession planning.
  4. Employee Engagement and Recognition Initiatives – to build a positive work culture through regular feedback and acknowledgement. This could include: employee surveys, team building activities and celebration of significant milestones, achievements and employee contributions.
  5. Talent Acquisition and Employer Branding – to attract and retain top talent. By focusing on branding strategies and comprehensive onboarding, HRBP’s can ensure that the right talent is found, nurtured and equipped for success.
  6. Learning and Development Programs – to facilitate ongoing personal growth. Training workshops, mentorship programs and seminars all help to hone the skills of employees and boost their career trajectory.

The Changing Face of the Human Resources Business Partner

Like the professional landscape, the work of an HRBP is fast paced and ever changing. Navigating current challenges are just as important as navigating future ones and an HRBP is critical in equipping their organisation and its people for what lies ahead.

To stay ahead in this dynamic environment, HRBP’s need to reskill, retool and embrace new strategies to keep up with the evolving challenges of their role. This includes:

  1. Embracing Technology and Automation – to continue to streamline processes, improve efficiency and enhance the employee experience. It’s important to stay abreast of emerging HR technologies to ensure the latest tools and platforms are optimised.
  2. Developing Strategic Business Partnerships – to engage with key stakeholders and business leaders and grasp their challenges, goals and priorities. Aligning HR initiatives with their wider business goals will help to establish yourself as a trusted advisor and strategic partner.
  3. Embracing Data Driven Insights – to interpret HR metrics, identify trends and inform decision making processes. These analytical skills are instrumental in predicting future needs and developing evidence-based recommendations to drive success.
  4. Adapting to Evolving Workforce Dynamics – to cater to the diverse range of workforce needs that come with the era of remote, flexible and hybrid working. Ensure that strategies align with the changing workforce landscape to build a capable, agile and flexible work environment.
  5. Committing to Ongoing Professional Development – to stay ahead as a HRBP in Singapore. Invest in your own growth and development and seek out the opportunities that will help you to boost your skills, knowledge and network for greater competitive edge.

With the future looking bright for the Singapore HR industry, there’s never been a better time to explore the possibility of becoming an HRBP or, to advance your career as a HRBP. To stay ahead in this impactful role, it’s fundamental to firstly understand the qualifications, skills and mindset required. Future proof your role as a trusted HRBP by driving strategic initiatives and bolstering your efforts to keep up with the changing face of HR in Singapore.

Looking for advice on how to find a job or move your career forward? Check out Robert Half’s dedicated Career Advice Page

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