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The Hr Business-Partner Model: Past Learnings and Future Challenges

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1. Introduction

The aim of this report is to address the key HR issues and challenges arising from the new strategic orientation that the parent organisation is implementing, as well as to advise the Snow Mountain Hotel HR team on the way forward.

This report begins by explaining the Three Legged Stool Model approach that the Snow Hotel Group’s HR Director wants to promote across the group and in addition it discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using this model. It moves on to a critical evaluation of the use of shared service centres and the elimination of on-site HR professionals, before providing a careful examination of the feasibility of devolving HR responsibilities to the line manager. This report concludes with a summary of the key issues raised and final comments to reinforce the importance of the report and make future suggestions.

2. Three legged stool model

Ulrich first wrote about the model in the mid-late 1990s, at edit CIPD (2014) this model is based around three main elements, HR Business Partner, Centres of Excellence and Shared Services.

The Business Partners works closely with leaders and line managers in the transformation and business strategy implementation to reach the organisational objectives.

The Shared Service Centres operate the day-to-day transactional duties across the business such as administration.

The Centres for Excellence are usually teams of HR experts who try to create innovations in areas such as talent management, employee engagement and employee learning and rewards.

In order to understand why the HR Director wants to implement the Three Legged Stool model in the Snow Hotel Group, a SWOT analysis has been done to detect the internal drivers that could have influenced the director to take such a decision. A PEST analysis was conducted to identify the external drivers; this reveals key factors to be considered.

2.1 SWOT Analysis (Appendix A)


For the past seven years, the Snow Mountain Resort has been voted the best ski resort by Mountain Sport & Living magazine, a factor which has led to more and more people visiting the village. The use of business partners here can help the organisation to take full advantage of the new customers coming to the village, as the HR managers and directors can work closely in formulating strategy and react quickly to the changes in the environment.


The level of demand tends to fluctuate in a dramatic way between the peak and off-peak seasons. Here, the shared service centres can help the organisation by reducing the cost and effort encountered by Snow Village when having to hire new staff in order to cope with the peak season. The centre for excellence will be able to assist with training employees, maintaining a consistently high level of customer service.


Snow village was until recently virtually unknown but it is now a worldwide attraction thanks to the major development of its ski resorts; HR managers can work closely with the directors in the strategy that needs followed in order to take advantage of the village's growth.


Rapid changes in technology affect the organisation because if the company wants to be able to restructure the service system new technology needs to be introduced. By using the Share Services Centre the resources are used more efficiently, leading to a reduction of costs.

Staff residing in Snow Village have to cope with high housing and living costs; the centre for excellence can help by developing and engaging the staff in order to reduce the turnover that the organisation is having to endure.

As seen on the SWOT analysis, the implementation of the model brings advantages to the organisation. However, it could also have negative impacts on it:

The line manager’s negativity of taking on more responsibility for HR work - as mentioned in the case study, they are wasting time dealing with staff issues and they do not have enough time to properly focus on their departments. This negativity has been reinforced by the general manager who prefers line managers to focus in running the business and making profits.

Another issue to consider would be the career development of HR staff; the HR staff cannot progress in the organisation and get expertise across the organisation as there is no clear career ladder.

2.2 PEST analysis (Appendix B)


The fact that the group operates across different countries potentially leads to the involvement of different governments - low corporate tax rates, governments investments and infrastructure, deregulation of markets, changes in taxation - are all areas how organisational direction can be shaped by the political landscape.


An important factor to consider in the economic environment is the 2008 financial crisis, from which the world is still recovering. The continued economic instability has led to companies fearing over- reaching with finances as the likelihood of a double deep recession remains.


Thanks to the good reviews over the past seven years, where the ski resort has been voted the "best ski resort" by Mountain and Sport & Living magazine, there is a luxury mountain vacations trend which is attracting more than four million visitors annually.


The increase in technological advancement has had a large impact on how organisations are structured and work; it is believed that the new HR Director wants to implement the Business Partner model in order to take advantages of the changes in technology since this change would help in the implementation of shared services centres across the group.

3. Business Partner Role

Business partner role is the process where HR professionals work with line mangers and the directors in order to achieve the organisation objectives, principally developing and implementing HR systems and procedures that sustain tactical goals (CIPD, 2012).

From the Hotel's perspective the implementation of the Business Partner role in the organisation could bring some of the following advantages:



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