The HRBP in 2025: What’s In? What’s Out?

The HRBP in 2025: What’s In? What’s Out?

What will your job look like in 2025? How confident would you be in your answer? These are the questions Gartner has been asking in our ongoing series of briefings with hundreds of HR business partners, HR generalists, and other strategic HR professionals.

This particular group’s answer to this question is a matter of particular concern for their organizations. HRBPs and HR generalists make up the largest portion of today’s HR functions: about 25 percent of HR headcount and 19 percent of HR budget expenditure, according to Gartner’s HR Budget and Staffing Benchmarking Survey. Accordingly, the work these professionals do has a large impact on the global HR community.

At one of our recent briefings in Chicago, HRBPs discussed the new responsibilities they expect to take on in their jobs in the coming decade, as well as the tasks they are looking forward to setting aside or delegating.

What’s In?

Much of the new work HR professionals are anticipating mirrors the environment in which they will work (and in many cases, are already working):

  • Doing more with data. HRBPs already feel growing expectations around their data skills and all expect that trend to continue. The ability to use data effectively, participants predicted, will also increasingly depend on fluency with HR technology and information systems, making the already difficult task of analyzing and telling stories with data more complex. For example, one HRBP from the retail industry shared that employee sentiment analysis and mood tracking was one particular area where she was already being asked to do more. Instead of relying on the formal employee survey, HRBPs will be asked to spot trends in employee email histories, health data, technology use tracking, and other data sets to identify workforce issues and opportunities.
  • Being predictive, not just proactive. The HRBP role originally emerged as part of the HR function’s transformation from being reactive to being proactive. The next evolution of HR is to become predictive. Being proactive meant trying to anticipate events and align their work accordingly; being predictive, participants said, means not only anticipating potential outcomes, but also being able to judge which outcomes are most and least likely to occur. In other words, being predictive blends anticipation and prioritization in a way that proactivity alone does not. Many of our attendees indicated that they were enthusiastic about this change, especially in combination with their growing strategic role.

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Careful Who You Trust for GDPR Advice

Careful Who You Trust for GDPR Advice

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect on May 25, imposes new data privacy obligations on all organizations that process the data of EU citizens, whether or not they are based in Europe themselves. The maximum penalties for noncompliance are hefty, so it is essential for businesses to ensure that their practices are GDPR-compliant if they haven’t already.

According to a survey on the eve of the regulation coming into effect, however, most organizations have not yet finished making the required changes, while many do not expect to be fully compliant by the end of this year. Much work still remains to be done to bring organizations into initial compliance with the regulation, and still more work to re-develop data collection, storage, and analytics programs in a compliant manner.

With every organization doing a huge amount of work for the first time and trying to get right with the GDPR as quickly as possible, this makes for a fertile environment for bad information to circulate and for opportunists to take advantage of organizations’ unfamiliarity with the new regulatory terrain. Organizational leaders need to be vigilant about which “experts” to trust for guidance on GDPR compliance, take advantage of the information provided directly by the European Commission, and bear in mind that different functions, particularly HR, face unique compliance challenges.

Step 1: Beware of Charlatans

The proliferation of bad advice and information is a simple matter of supply and demand. Demand for advice is high, both because of the global impact of the GDPR and because so many organizations were not proactive in planning for compliance are now scrambling to catch up. The supply of that advice is scarce and of uneven quality, with no historical track record of performance. Over the past few months, many companies have been assembling data protection functions and hiring data protection officers (DPOs), causing a run on the thin supply of qualified talent for these roles.

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State Attorneys General Push Back on Labor Department’s PAID Program

State Attorneys General Push Back on Labor Department’s PAID Program

Last month, the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division announced that it was preparing a six-month pilot of the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program, to launch this month, which will allow employers to self-report potential overtime and minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and resolve them by paying employees the back wages they are owed, avoiding additional fines and the expensive and time-consuming process of litigation. A similar program was offered under the Bush administration during the 2000s, but the Wage and Hour division took a more aggressive enforcement approach under former President Barack Obama, often assessing double damages.

Wage and hour disputes already being litigated or investigated are not eligible for resolution through the PAID program, nor can employers use it to resolve the same violation twice. Advocates of the PAID program consider it a win-win for employers and employees, allowing underpaid workers to be made whole much more quickly, without having to pay attorney fees. Critics, however, say it goes against the division’s role as an enforcer of employment law and lets unscrupulous employers off the hook, while also expressing concern over having voluntary self-audits take the place of Labor Department investigations.

Among those critics are a number of state attorneys general, who co-signed a letter sent by New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta informing him that they had serious concerns about the PAID program and would not refrain from pursuing wage and hour investigations under state law against employers who participate in it:

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State–Federal Clash on Immigration Squeezes California Employers

State–Federal Clash on Immigration Squeezes California Employers

US President Donald Trump’s agenda of expanded detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants has been frustrated by the refusal of some states and cities to participate the federal authorities’ crackdown, which opponents say unfairly targets non-criminals and makes immigrant communities less safe by eroding their trust in the police. Last September, California passed a law prohibiting employers in the state from voluntarily allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents onsite to conduct immigration inspections or to access employee records without a warrant or court order.

In an apparent response to the state’s defiance, ICE has stepped up enforcement raids in California this year, as well as other jurisdictions that have passed “sanctuary” laws barring local authorities from cooperating with federal agents in immigration enforcement. These laws have enraged Trump and ICE director Thomas Homan, who have accused legislators in these areas of endangering citizens and officers to protect undocumented criminals. California lawmakers counter that they are merely insisting that ICE agents show documents they are already federally required to present before conducting inspections.

This tension between Sacramento and Washington has put California employers between a rock and a hard place, Nour Malas reports at the Wall Street Journal, as they receive conflicting instructions from state and federal authorities and fear being targeted by one for cooperating with the other. In response to the recent wave of raids, Democratic State Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned employers that they could face legal action by the state if they voluntarily hand over information about their employees to ICE.

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In Wake of Sexual Harassment Scandals, Companies Scale Back on Drinks at Holiday Parties

In Wake of Sexual Harassment Scandals, Companies Scale Back on Drinks at Holiday Parties

In response to a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against numerous men in the media and other high-profile industries, Vox Media, which fired its own editorial director last month for sexual harassment, announced to staff last Thursday that it would not have an open bar at its holiday party this year, the Huffington Post reported. By limiting the amount of alcohol available to employees at the party (they will now get two drink tickets instead), the company aims to discourage “unprofessional behavior” and avoid “creating an environment that encourages overconsumption”:

The move keeps in line with an earlier memo that Vox CEO Jim Bankoff sent to staffers on Nov. 3, which listed a number of initiatives aimed at improving Vox’s work culture. Among other efforts, Bankoff wrote that the company would be considering “tighter policies around alcoholic beverages at company events and meetings and generally ensuring work events and interactions meet the highest standard of professionalism.”

Vox Media is by no means the only company considering scaling back on the booze at their holiday event for this reason. The Associated Press’s Marley Jay takes a brief look at what companies are doing and why:

According to a survey by Chicago-based consulting company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, only 49 percent of companies plan to serve alcohol at their holiday events. Last year that number was 62 percent, the highest number in the decade the firm has run its survey. The number had been going up each year as the economy improved. …

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How HR Can Strengthen Corporate Governance in a Time of Constant Change

How HR Can Strengthen Corporate Governance in a Time of Constant Change

At the CEB ReimagineHR summit in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, dozens of heads of HR and other HR leaders participated in a discussion with a panel of experts on the changing nature of corporate governance and its impact on HR executives. The panelists included Holly Gregory, partner and co-chair at Sidley Austin, LLP; Dan Kaplan, managing partner at Heidrick & Struggles; and Lori Zyskowski, partner at Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher LLP.

The panelists brought a wide range of experience in advising heads of HR, CEOs, and boards of directors, as well as developing corporate governance in-house and advising externally on both good governance and governance crisis situations. The panelists shared some of the common concerns that are keeping board members and CEOs awake at night. Here are some of the key points from Wednesday’s discussion:

Boards Face Anxiety Over the Issues They Don’t Know Exist

In a challenging environment of disruption, expanded scrutiny, and higher expectations from society, boards need to ask the question, “What don’t we know?” Hidden patterns of employee misconduct, a body of claims around harassment, or compliance issues all represent a failure of corporate governance.

Heads of HR help boards by creating an information system that methodically elevates issues to the board. CHROs have their fingers on the pulse of the company and are involved in employee misconduct, issues with supervisors, harassment claims, etc. It is critical that these issues be surfaced, and CHROs that are not getting traction with their organization’s general counsel when these issues arise need to show courage in escalating them to the CEO or the remuneration or audit committees on the board.

The Speed at Which Governance Crises Emerge Has Accelerated

Boards don’t have as much time to respond to problems as they used to. In an era of viral media, an organization’s customers, investors, and competitors often find out about crises before the Board does. With no time to plan a reaction, it is critical that boards have the information they need and that the organization is able to respond rapidly. That means heads of HR need to develop teams that can quickly pivot and adjust the way things operate in the company.

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Trump Administration to Halt Pay Data Reporting Rule

Trump Administration to Halt Pay Data Reporting Rule

The White House is putting the brakes on a rule proposed by the Obama administration in 2016 that would have required organizations with more than 100 employees to submit summary pay data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission each year showing what employees of each gender, race, and ethnicity earn. The previous administration said the rule, which was to become effective next spring, would help the EEOC identify gender and racial pay discrimination, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration disagrees:

“It’s enormously burdensome,” said Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which analyzes the cost of federal rules and regulations. “We don’t believe it would actually help us gather information about wage and employment discrimination.”

When President Trump took office in January, his administration was expected to reverse many Obama-era policies created through executive action that were considered unfriendly or overly burdensome to employers, including the pay gap reporting rule. As recently as early August, employers were unsure whether to proceed in preparing to comply with this rule, but now, at least for the time being, the law will not go into effect. The Journal reports that in a memo sent to Victoria Lipnic, the acting chairwoman of the EEOC, on Tuesday, Rao said the White House Office of Management and Budget would stay the rule pending a review, as the administration believes it violates federal laws intended to reduce excessive paperwork.