The HSE function as a Business Partner: Challenges in transitioning to a business partner model

By Tom Woollard, Don Lloyd, Beth Lee

The Health Safety and Environment (HSE) function and its associated areas of expertise (e.g. Social, Security & Sustainability) are changing fast.

As these functional areas become an integral part of operations aided by rapidly changing technology and with cost pressures driving ever-more streamlined and cost effective support, companies are wanting a lot more from a lot less.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, support functions (e.g. supply chain, IT, HSE, HR, finance, marketing) can make up between 10 and 45% of operating expense (2013). This is especially the case where large functional support has been built up over many years, often in the absence of an adequate focus on cost effectiveness.

As a result, we see a growing trend in re-organizing HSE functions - especially in those that are failing to effectively engage with their internal customers, as highlighted in the ERM paper Getting ahead of the game: Re-designing the HSE function (2016). There are not only substantial costs savings to be made in doing this, but also huge potential gains in efficiency and effectiveness.

This paper examines the challenges that these functions now face in the transition from high-cost service providers, to engaged and aligned business partners. From here on in we will use HSE as a proxy that incorporates Social, Security and Sustainability services.

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The HSE function as a Business Partner

Challenges in transitioning to a business partner model

Health, Safety & Risk Services

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