Essential HR Business Partner Skills in 2024

Want to excel at your job as an HR business partner? We’ve got some essential skills that you can master to become a better HR business partner.

HR business partner’s role is highly dynamic and strategic. Thus, they are required to think and plan strategies for the right talent acquisition through proper communication with business leaders and human resources managers.

In addition to that, do you know that an HR business partner does not recruit? Now you must be surprised that what does then ‘HR’ means in this role’s title. HR business partners do not directly recruit but they are indirectly somehow associated with all hiring processes.  Keeping the above context in mind, we can say that the major skills required in a human resources business partner role are powerful decision making, sheer determination, and leadership.

This article provides details on the essential skills you must acquire to become an HR business partner.

Here’s a brief insight on each mandatory skill of HR business partners.

1. Networking and Relationship Building Skills

Networking and relationship-building skills help an HR business partner to communicate with SMEs and business leaders to perform their day-to-day duties. In addition to that, these skills boost work efficiency.

Below are some practices that enhance your networking and relationship building skills:

  • Friendliness. It is a habit of being friendly with your junior and sometimes your senior colleagues such as an HR manager.
  • Respect. Respect is the greatest factor that directly affects your ability to develop networks and positive relations with an HR manager, and business executives.
  • Interpersonal Skills. Interpersonal skills are tactics that an HR business should adapt for effective networking with colleagues.
  • Active Listening.  Active listening means paying full attention to what an opposite partner or a co-worker is saying. It builds more respect and thus helps develop better connections.

The HR business partner must be proficient in proper communication with the leaders and executives from different backgrounds. It is also essential to understand the right strategies for a business in the mind of SMEs.

Good networking skills allow an HR business partner to connect with experienced workers to seek:

  • Professional tactics of hunting the right talent for a position
  • Tips to hunt that ads value to a business and help accomplish the business objectives.

Thus, networking and relationship building are two of the most fundamental skills required as an HR business partner.

2. Cross-Cultural Skills

In addition to that, sometimes a potential employee belongs from an entirely different culture. Thus, an HR manager must have cross-cultural skills which means:

  • Embracing agility. Agileness is the ability to pick points easily. As multi-national companies are spread globally, there are workers from different cultures and diverse nations. Thus, agileness allows us to easily pick their point of view.
  • Facilitating meaningful conversations. Insightful conversations promote cross-cultural awareness in the organization, thus such activities air better working environments for employees from different cultures.
  • Being open-minded. For an HR business partner, being open-minded is an elementary trait. Open-mindedness allows for digesting one’s culture and customs. Such practices develop better working environments.
  • Increase awareness. Awareness provides the power to influence. Awareness leads to clear communications while understanding the intentions of employees of diverse nature. Thus, it is a mandatory skill an HR business partner must-have for effective communication. An HR business partner must have a cultural awareness of the regions an organization operates in.

This means that, having a sound understanding of:

  • Different business practices in a specific region
  • Compensation frameworks
  • Various labor laws

Thus, we can summarize the skill by saying that an HR strategic business partner must have diversified thinking to digest different cultures, labor laws, workforce leading tactics, and to understand the approach of an HR manager and other employees from different cultures from all over the globe. Only this way, an organization can become truly global, diversified, and cross-culture competent.

You can proficiently master all these skills for the HR business partner role through our certifications:

Human Resources Certifications

3. Digital Literacy Skills

In an HR business partner’s role, digital skills play a huge role. Big tech companies prefer candidates with software proficiency. Here are the four most important digital tools an HR business must be well-versed in:

  1. Collaboration tools aid HR business partners in training, hiring, and onboarding talent. Also, these tools allow non-verbal communication, thus making it easy for different HR teams to communicate effectively with human resources professionals.
  2. Developmental tools assist HR business partners to judge performance metrics, managing labor statistics, and other technical tasks like these.
  3. Digital analyses tools allow HR business partners to analyze the employee’s performance and efficiency. In addition to that, such tools assist human resources business partners to conduct a statistical analysis of massive employee datasets.
  4. Software management tools allow an HR business partner to efficiently manage their team. As the majority of workers in the HR department work under an HR strategic business partner, thus to manage their tasks, proficiency with a digital human resources management tool is mandatory.

An HR strategic business partner can also require various digital tools for technical tasks like

  • Business intelligence
  • Data visualization
  • Decision support
  • Information sharing

Thus a human resources business partner’s role is highly dynamic and strategic, so, proficiency with digital tools and software is a fundamental requirement for an HR business partner role.

4. Analyzation Skills

Analytical skills are necessary so that the HR business partner can take clues from analyzing the ongoing market trends and a competitors’ organizational strategy. Good analysis skills allow the identification of potential candidates for a role, thus allows right thus allowing an HR business partner to hunt the right potential in favor of the business’s objectives. Some specific analysis skills are:

  • Research. Research aids the analytical skills of an HR business partner. With research, an HR business partner can understand market trends.
  • Data mining. With data mining, an HR business partner can gather insightful information. With proper data mining skills, an HR business partner can analyze the tactics for profitable business production and operational adjustments for employees.
  • Troubleshooting. Through proper analysis skills, an HR business partner can easily troubleshoot the hurdles an HR manager faces to hunt for the right candidate for a seat. Troubleshooting enhances one’s ability to analyze more effectively.

On top of that, data analysis is a mandatory requirement to become an HR business partner. Through proper data analysis, they can easily evaluate:

  • Labor needs
  • Job applications
  • Performance metrics
  • Productivity monitoring

Properly analyzing business from these various standpoints enables effective HR business partners to enhance their strategic planning skills. Furthermore, this also allows become more productive in planning for uncertain situations and competitive markets.

5. Integration Skills

Integration is the ability to embed technology in the business to enhance work efficiency and drive more leads. It also means integrating two skills for better results. By mastering these skills, you can opt for the right technology moves and generate more work leads in your HR business unit.

An HR business partner can increase the worker’s engagement. Good employee engagement leads to effective business communication through leveraging from right tech tools.

However, this must be done with keen care as a slight mistake in choosing the wrong tech tool can sometimes hinder the worker’s productivity by increasing workload. This situation may also lead to employee frustration which is truly a loss for the business.

Thus, professional integration skills are mandatory for an HR business partner to increase work efficiency thus driving mode leads to a business.

6. Business Acumen Skills

Business acumen is a fusion of knowledge and the skills gained from the experience. Here, knowledge refers to the understanding of business and HR processes, and skills refers to tactics to embed that knowledge into the business for the best outcome. You can enhance your business acumen skills with these tactics:

  • Understand the core business principles. You can acquire good business acumen skills by understanding the core principles and business objectives.
  • Proficiency in internal and external operations. As an HR business partner, you can easily leverage acumen skills by establishing an understanding of internal and external business operations, and later spreading them in the HR department.
  • Strategically tailoring of the policies. Good acumen skills demand an HR business partner to be able to strategically tailor their policies so they can serve the business to its fullest.
  • Grasp the understanding of how a business works. If an HR business partner can grasp the understanding of how businesses work, they can not only enhance their business acumen skills, but they can use the knowledge in the creation of business strategies that drive more leads and enhance the business competitiveness.

Apart from that, business acumen is not just about the knowledge of the right skills, but it also requires you to understand the risks and rewards that might result from a process.

To understand this point, let’s consider a manufacturing industry that manufactures sewing machines. So if an HR business partner does not know the whole process behind the manufacturing of this machine, they can’t succeed in their role.

Thus, a human resources business partner must be both business and tech-savvy. As you already know that an HR business partner’s role varies from industry to industry, thus a sound understanding of industry-specific technology is necessary for effective work in the HR department.

7. Strategic Planning Skills

A human resources business partner must be able to analyze the latest market trends and embed these trends into their business with a strategic plan. In addition to that, as a human resources business partner, you must understand the business strategy to effectively embed the new HR strategy into the existing one without disturbing the workflow.

HR business partners adopt the following four roadmap steps to implement a strategic plan:

  1. Planning. HR business partners plan a human resources strategy to hunt for the right candidates for a role, and then present it to business leaders and stakeholders.
  2. Prioritizing. An HR organizational strategy barely gets implemented as planned. So, in the implementation, certain sections are prioritized. So, some factors in the talent acquisition strategy are prioritized based on the business goals.
  3. Execution. Executing a strategy is a time taking process to obtain the desired results of how well that strategy is performing. But still, they execute the developed strategy and start recruiting candidates according to prioritized factors.
  4. Measurement. After some time, HR business partners track employee progress, and productivity metrics to judge how well the strategy performed in recruiting the right talent for a seat.

Strategic planning is not just limited to planning and implementing, but it also includes evaluation skills. When a new strategy is implemented in a business, the human resources business partner must evaluate how well the execution is performing, and thus take mandatory steps to either remove or improve a strategy section. In general, a strategy allows for determining the future vision of a business, and the future business objectives. Thus, it is a crucial skill that HR business partners must exhibit for the HR department.

8. Advocacy Skills

The primary job of a human resources business partner is to advocate for the business in its support. This process also involves the advocacy of business employees.

A company cannot succeed if its workers are not treated and rewarded well. This allows preventing a business from unwanted outcomes, lawsuits, and dissatisfied employees.

If the employees are properly taken care of, they work their best, and thus a business generates more leads. So, a human resources business partner must evaluate whether the employees are being treated well or not, as employee treatment directly effective strategic planning and business productivity. This is why advocacy is an important skill.

9. Ability to Address and Transformation Skills

An HR business partner radically advocates how organizations change their work strategy to do business. This also demands aligning business objectives with personnel decisions. Usually, HR business partners adapt this road map:

  • Identify. A human resources business partner identifies a plan and creates a human resource strategy.
  • Adress. Effective implementation of the plan requires good addressing abilities. You must be able to effectively address the changes and the need for these changes to business employees, so they are aware of the future goals, and work accordingly.
  • Transform. Transformation capabilities without negatively impacting the business and employees. Good addressing leads to the exceptional transformation of business with more leads.

Thus, good addressing skills and the ability to transform a process into a more productive process are mandatory skills.

10. Communication Skills

Good communication skills are one of the most basic yet fundamental skills of any employee. Such skills are required in situations like

  • Executive presentations
  • Business crisis
  • Unwanted conflicts
  • Negotiations

As these complications are of different levels, for example, employee-to-employee conflict, business crisis among stakeholders, and presentations to managers, thus proficiency in different levels of communication streams is necessary.

Good communication skills come from:

  • Listening: The more you listen to others, the better knowledge you gain to talk like an expert.
  • Understanding other’s level of comprehension: You can only make the best out of a conversation if you are aware of the opposite party’s level of mind. This way, you can talk to them on the same page, and thus improve your communication skills.
  • Making proper use of body language: To make more impact, and to gain effective communication, you should learn to make use of body language, and postures while communicating.
  • Thinking before speaking: Abrupt talking is a non-professional tactic, thus thinking before speaking is a great tactic to enhance your communication skills.

In short, we can say that to effectively manage the executives and stakeholders and to add value to the business at the time with insightful additives, it is fundamental for HR business partners to have good communication skills.

11. Stakeholder Management Skills

Understanding the political landscape is crucial to doing the right business. This can only be done by:

  • Gaining awareness through business leaders’ and stakeholders’ points of view. You must know what they know, and how they are imaging a human resources strategy they want to implement.
  • Appropriate dealing with the executives through good stakeholder and human resource management skills allows effective communication in the best favor of the business.

Above we have provided a detailed insight into the skills of an HR business partner. Apart from all these, you must exhibit a problem-solving nature to tackle hurdles and conflicts that arise in a situation. You must know what task to prioritize in the best favor of the business. Apart from these, good strategic and workforce planning along with efficient stakeholder and human resources management skills are the most fundamental skills of a human resources business partner.

Take Away

If you are willing to become an HR business partner, you must exhibit strong potential in technical, digital, cross-cultural, and communicational skills.

Check whether you have the potential to master the above-mentioned skills or not. You can also learn them through our Human resources course and later apply them to your dream HR business partner’s job.


If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into an HR Business Partner position, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft an excellent HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy that lands you a sought-after HR Business Partner job.


Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.