Training HR Business Partners – Breaking New Ground for HRO Relationships

My August 27 blog focused on the importance of training recruiters – both in-house and outsourced – on how to leverage new school recruiting techniques, platforms and mediums in order to prepare for the hiring uptick that’s expected in 2010. This training is vital, as it not only aids the recruiting effort but also enables HR to help support the company’s strategic and competitive business objectives.

Broadening our view here to training which helps enable attainment of business objectives and better relationships between HRO buyers and HRO providers, a variety of HRO service providers hold user conferences which include educational components. For example, Ceridian has an academic program that offers resources and some training for client HR teams, and its user conferences always offer a few very well attended sessions that qualify for continuing education credits.

So I was very interested in Kenexa’s announcement earlier this week of a training initiative it launched for E. ON U.K., an integrated power and gas company. Kenexa’s new one-day developmental training program is helping E. ON U.K.: 1) embed HR guru David Ulrich’s business partner model – the intent of which is to “help HR professionals to integrate more thoroughly into business processes and to align their day-to-day work with business outcomes… focusing more on deliverables than doables…Instead of measuring process, business partners are encouraged to measure results’’ – and 2) assess the development needs of its staff.

The training simulates an HR business partner’s workday, in which participants are observed and given immediate feedback including career advice, developmental recommendations and a full assessment report.

To underscore the significance of this type of training, let’s define HR business partner. Internally, HR business partners support the business leaders and teams of each division/ business unit of their company to manage implementation and execution of HR processes such as workforce planning and performance management. When involved in an HRO engagement, the HR business partners in the retained organization – at least at the top ranks – have added responsibility for managing the relationship with the HRO provider in conjunction with the governance team, and ensuring results are achieved and qualitatively and quantitatively measurable.

HR business partner training, if engineered to specifically address best practices in HRO provider relationship management and objectives achievement, represents a monumental boon to HRO buyers and providers alike.

While I think it will take a while for this type of training to catch on and for success stories to arise in the marketplace, I thoroughly expect buyers beyond E. ON U.K. will take notice and look for their providers to provide similar training. Further, I believe other forward-thinking HRO providers will begin evaluating how they can offer this type of training. 

I hope both parts of the equation do, as it will help strengthen the relationship and extend the strategic partnership between HRO buyers and providers, and more easily enable the realization of business objectives expected from the engagement.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

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