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The Difference - HR Business Partner versus HR Generalist

The world of HR is undergoing a major transformation, in which the usual tasks and responsibilities taken on by HR professionals are becoming more comprehensive and challenging. By this we mean that HR professionals are increasingly becoming involved in business strategy planning from an HR perspective, which has led to more responsibilities being shared. Under these circumstances, the current discussion regarding the difference between an HR Business Partner and HR Generalist is an important one.

Here are some of the important differences between these two:-

·         Roles held: One of the major differences between an HR Business Partner and an HR Generalist is that the former is more strategic and the latter is transactional. In other words, an HR generalist is one who looks into the day-to-day affairs being handled by the HR department. This could include hiring, firing, motivation, performance evaluation, benefits etc. HR Business Partners, on the other hand, are more involved with the strategic planning of the business from the HR point of view. This could include responsibilities like organizational development, planning the workforce, developing and implementing policies and similar things.


·         Involvement with other departments: HR Business partners are often involved intrinsically with other department heads and their work mechanism. This is important to help them understand the intricate way in which the entire business operates. This also facilitates them to decide the stand they have to take when planning and developing policies related to employees or the organization as a whole. HR generalists, on the other hand, have to deal minimally with other departments. In other words, their exposure is limited to the extent of the employee's satisfaction, happiness, benefits and other challenges, including those related to performance.


·         Evaluation of performance: Performance evaluation is yet another area where an HR Business Partner plays a different role as compared to an HR Generalist. Where the generalist restricts his/her evaluation to the extent of how it affects the employee and the employer, the business partner will require a more comprehensive understanding in terms of performance evaluation of an entire team or department. It is important for a person as an HR business partner to understand what competencies and skills are required for any team or workforce to be successful.


·         Client leadership: Another factor of difference between HR Business Partner and HR Generalist is the strength and depth of their relationship with the client in question. This again relates to the fact that a business partner is as aware of the organization and its needs as the other leaders of the organization. It is important to note that extensive involvement in organizational growth is essential for any HR professional to become a business partner. A business partner should also ensure that other people in the organization value HR more than merely a paper pushing department or function. And this is where the business partner is different from a generalist. The generalist is more confined towards ensuring that policies and regulations are implemented correctly while the business partner ensures that HR is the core competency of any business. 

Understanding these differences between an HR Business Partner and an HR generalist will help you understand what you need to do in order to have both in your organization.

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