July 1, 2023

HR Business Partner and Employer Brand Manager: what's the difference?


Let’s clear up one important point straight away. Namely, what is the HR department, and why does a big company need it.

The name of this department is usually abbreviated HR, and its full name is the Human Resources Department. As the name suggests, this department deals with personnel and oversees HR processes.

Some years ago, the HR department consisted of only a few specialists: personnel managers, recruiters, and business coaches.

But everything changes, as they say, both times and ways of doing business. Therefore, today this department has expanded to a dozen specialists, and all of them perform various tasks, the purpose of which is to increase the company's prosperity.

Let me list them right away, ahead of your question. In addition to those in the HR team initially, such specialists appeared in the human resources department as researchers, HR managers, people managers, people partners, career advisers, training managers, HR business partners, HR directors, HR generalists, employer brand managers, event managers, and headhunters. A lot.

But in this article, I will take a closer look at two specialists from this impressive list.

What are the HR Business Partner’s responsibilities?

The HR Business Partner is an HR specialist who works closely with senior management. Their main task is to ensure that the company's personnel management is consistent with corporate needs, goals, and missions. And the main focus of their work is on strategic planning and scaling of HR processes.

Approximately 30% of this specialist’s work overlaps with what the HR manager or generalist usually does. But unlike these experts, the HRBP devotes less time to administration and more – to strategy and consulting.

For me, the ideal HR Business Partner understands the specifics of the company they work for and knows about the problems of teams and individuals.

Do you wear a watch? Imagine business as a clockwork where there are loads of complicated details. And the HRBP has to maintain the contact necessary for its efficient functioning between all its parts.

I would outline the main competencies of the HR Business Partner or Strategic Partner as follows:

  • Personnel management. Optimization of hiring and dismissal processes, workflow automation, and other routine procedures.
  • Strategic management. Preparation of strategic change management initiatives for implementation.
  • Monitoring. Monitoring existing practices and procedures in the sphere.
  • Emergency response. Taking immediate measures in case of force majeure.
  • Employee mediation. Settlement of disputes between employees and managers.
  • Training. Organizing and controlling development programs and preparation of training briefs.
  • Motivation and evaluation. Assistance in conducting appraisal campaigns and performance reviews, development of the grading system, and well-being programs.
  • Internal communications. Communication with candidates, employees, managers, and partners. Organizing team building events, controlling the “climate” in teams.
  • Surveys. Organizing and conducting employee engagement surveys.

What is the Employer Brand Manager in charge of?

This specialist interacts with the current and potential employees. The main task of the Employer Brand Manager is to make the company an even more attractive place for employees and improve its external image.

Generally, this professional's primary focus is the company's internal and external brand. Their main field of activity is ensuring that the company's external image matches what is happening inside the company.

As I see it, the ideal Employer Brand Manager designs and excellently executes a comprehensive and integrated company’s brand strategy, creating and implementing approaches to build the perfect brand of the enterprise in the business field, the employee market, and within the company.

I would list the duties of the Employer Brand Manager in such an order:

  • Brand maintenance and development. Maintaining and developing the company’s brand strategy.
  • Brand evaluation. Evaluating the HR brand effectiveness.
  • Brand support. Supporting and developing the company’s brand channels.
  • Events. Organizing events for candidates, employees, managers, and partners.
  • New workforce attraction. Organizing events and campaigns for students, graduates, and potential employees.
  • Promotion. Managing and promoting talent programs.
  • Cooperation. Cooperating with other specialists to ensure strong organization and brand representation in all HR-related processes.

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What makes the difference?

Even though both specialists function as part of the HR department, and their work activities are closely intertwined, at some points even coincide, the difference between their responsibilities is quite clearly visible.

The HR Business Partner copes mostly with strategic planning and scaling of HR processes. Their primary focus is optimizing staff movement processes and automation of workflow and other routine procedures within the company.

At the same time, the Employer Brand Manager’s main goal is the company’s attractive external image and correspondence to the internal content. Their primary focus is designing and executing a perfect employer brand strategy for their company.

A few words as a summary

Having read all the above, I think you will agree with my opinion that these two HR specialists may bring many benefits to any company. They may significantly improve its image in the field of business and attractiveness for potential talents, plus greatly increase the organization’s income.