HR Strategic Business Partnership: Amazon

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Human resources (HR) functions are some of the most crucial in reaching successful business outcomes. Although HR is essential for every organization’s administrative and operational aspects, there is an emerging trend of introducing the position of HR strategic partner. Amazon is one of many global businesses that implemented this role to meet its organizational goals and increase competitiveness. This paper will examine the necessity of a transition to HR strategic partnership by overviewing the HR management history and investigating the advantages of the practice using a case study of Amazon business.

History of the HR Function

The history of the HR field has to be analyzed to see the profession’s progression and uncover how the development of the career led to the creation of the HR business partner position. Firstly, HR had evolved into a distinct business role in the early 20th century when it was initially introduced by Frederick Taylor (Obedgiu, 2017). Following this foundational knowledge, Elton Mayo has generated an abundance of research on the effectiveness of employees increased by incentives separate from financial compensation (Obedgiu, 2017). Mayo, along with other researchers, discovered the theoretical knowledge that served as a framework for strategic workforce management, employee-employer relationship, and formal labor relations.

The definition of HR management evolved along with the career’s duties over the years of business practice. One of the universal definitions states that the HR manager is responsible for “aligning human resource and business strategy, re-engineering organization processes, listening and responding to employees, and managing transformation” (Obedgiu, 2017, p. 986). Given the wide range of duties, the HR management role evolved into a position that exceeds the administrational level of management and is now considered essential for strategic business partnership. HR strategic business partners’ tasks are to “work closely with internal stakeholders to develop a people agenda that aligns with and supports the organization’s overall strategic objectives” (Obedgiu, 2017, p. 989). Conclusively, strategic business partners have to facilitate organizational change from an HR perspective.

Talent Acquisition and Management

One of the first advantages of introducing an HR strategic partner’s position is the enhancement of talent acquisition and management practices. If to examine the function of talent management as a task of operational or administrative staff, it is evident that HR managers lack time and strategic framework to tackle this function (Stark & Poppler, 2016). On the other hand, an HR strategic partner who is tasked with this function approaches the issue from a more conceptual and long-term perspective (Stark & Poppler, 2016). Such a partner can develop and implement a strategy for talent acquisition and management that will allow a company to meets its needs for innovation by hiring and continually enhancing the existing workforce.

These findings are translated into the transition that Amazon made relatively recently regarding its HR management practices. The company separated the tasks of HR operational managers and HR business partners. This division allows the latter to have an ability to create an elaborate framework for both hiring new talents and maintaining the innovation potential of the current employees. By working with data-driven tools and techniques, Amazon HR business partners determine the need for new talents and detect the desired employees for a more straightforward and fact-based hiring strategy (Dundon & Wilkinson, 2020). Therefore, it is evident that HR strategic partners play a crucial role in long-term investment and development of the talent for business development.

Human Assets as a Competitive Advantage

An emerging need in treating human capital as a competitive advantage requires companies to implement a strategic HR role. As Noe (2017) noted, in the 20th century, businesses’ success has evolved around physical resources and wealth, making them the desired priority. However, with a transition to an emphasis on corporate social responsibility, branding, and employee loyalty, it is essential to recognize the workforce as a competitive advantage (Noe, 2017). Therefore, the performance management of employees by an HR business partner ensures that the human capital within a company generates resources like knowledge to add value to the organization. Since the focus on competitive advantage shifts from physical resources to employees, talent and diversity become increasingly crucial in cultivating business worth.

HR business partners should be able to acknowledge this trend and implement steps to meet this demand by creating a personalized approach to recruitment that views each employee as an individual rather than a resource. For example, this strategy allows Amazon to implement more inclusivity by assessing factors of the social, economic, and cultural backgrounds of each candidate and selecting a diverse workforce. Amazon seeks diversity to spur innovation, equality, and efficient cooperation, which creates a competitive advantage and enables companies to extend to more versatile target markets (Noe, 2017). This meaningful transition from the quantity-based operational approach of HR managers to a value-based approach to human assets, recruitment, and selection of HR partners highlights one of the most important benefits of the role. Instead of filling the work positions with employees, HR partners seek more value in each worker and their background. HR strategists in Amazon are also required to develop a reward, compensation, and incentive plans to facilitate the maintenance and improvement of human assets (Dundon & Wilkinson, 2020). This approach accumulates in the long-term competitive human capital advantage and serves as a reason for HR strategists’ adoption.

Organizational Structure

Another aspect of the HR strategic partner’s job that is beneficial to the company is its contribution to the organizational structure. Unlike HR managers who work on an administrative level and tackle day-to-day issues, HR strategic partners operate with a conceptual understanding of the company’s workforce and its structure (McCracken et al., 2016). As a result, it is easier for business partners to recognize and address the discrepancies between the existing organizational structure and the needs of the employees and the business itself. For instance, if a regulatory change like an addition of a new warehouse occurs, an HR strategic business partner will recognize the need for workers of specific qualifications and experience. Consequently, the partner will address the issue of HR and assign the fitting workers to the new facility to meet the needs of the change.

Amazon’s HR strategic partners are essential in addressing the business’s constant organizational structure’s needs. Firstly, the business grows continuously, “compounding to a 115% growth in three recent years” (Dundon & Wilkinson, 2020, p. 191). The company’s expansion requires HR strategists to be flexible in the face of change, as well as recognize and efficiently address the emerging challenges with rapid workforce management decision-making. Furthermore, Amazon has a high-retention strategy, meaning that the workforce is continuously changing to acquire the most productive workers (Dundon & Wilkinson, 2020). To manage such a continuous organizational change, the role of HR strategic partner is indispensable. Amazon, as a multinational company that develops at a rapid pace, addressed this challenge by hiring HR strategic partners to facilitate the growth and respond to expansion needs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is safe to state that the transition to HR strategic partnership is essential for organizational growth and efficient management of human resources. Although the concept of HR function was initially defined as a part of operational and administrative tasks, the current market and workforce demand the HR professionals to have a more strategic role as business partners. As the example of Amazon’s practices showed, the three primary reasons for implementing an HR strategic partnership are increasing talent acquisition, maintaining appropriate organizational structure, and developing human capital to gain a competitive advantage.

References

Dundon, T., & Wilkinson, A. (2020). Amazon: HRM and change in the house of neo-liberalism. Case Studies in Work, Employment and Human Resource Management, 31(1), 191–200. Web.

McCracken, M., O’Kane, P., Brown, T. C., & McCrory, M. (2016). Human resource business partner lifecycle model: Exploring how the relationship between HRBPs and their line manager partners evolves. Human Resource Management Journal, 27(1), 58–74. Web.

Noe, R. (2017). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive advantage. McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

Obedgiu, V. (2017). Human resource management, historical perspectives, evolution, and professional development. Journal of Management Development, 36(8), 986-990. Web.

Stark, E., & Poppler, P. (2016). Evolution of a strange pathology: HRM as a strategic business partner and employee advocate in the USA. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 29(1), 1-14. Web.

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BusinessEssay. 2022. "HR Strategic Business Partnership: Amazon." December 15, 2022. https://business-essay.com/hr-strategic-business-partnership-amazon/.

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