Chinese SaaS Giant Eliminates HRBP Roles to Boost Efficiency and Cut Costs

Chinese SaaS Giant Eliminates HRBP Roles to Boost Efficiency and Cut Costs

Sofia Delgado-Cheng
3 min read

Youzan Eliminates HRBP Roles to Boost Efficiency and Cut Costs

On July 4th, Chinese SaaS giant Youzan announced a significant organizational change: the company is canceling all Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) positions. Employees holding these roles will transition to new positions within the company over the next week, directly reporting to business unit leaders and engaging in business-related tasks rather than human resources activities. This adjustment is set to commence officially on July 8th.

Youzan's internal communication highlighted two core reasons for this decision: improving efficiency with advanced tools and streamlining operations through updated workflows. The move also involves dissolving the "Organizational Growth Department" while retaining only the "Human Resources Management Center." According to sources, another top Chinese tech company is evaluating the necessity of HRBP positions, potentially following Youzan's lead.

Key Takeaways

  1. Efficiency and Innovation: Youzan's decision aims to enhance overall efficiency and adaptability by leveraging advanced tools and more streamlined processes.
  2. Redefined HR Roles: HRBP positions will be eliminated, and affected employees will transition to business-focused roles, reporting directly to business unit leaders.
  3. Cost-Cutting Measures: The move is partially driven by a need to reduce operational costs amidst challenging financial conditions.
  4. Industry Impact: Other tech companies in China might follow Youzan's example, potentially signaling a broader shift in how HR roles are perceived and utilized in the tech industry.


Youzan’s decision to eliminate HRBP roles and integrate these responsibilities directly into business units marks a pivotal shift in organizational strategy. The HRBP model, which positions HR professionals within business units to align HR functions with business goals, has been a mainstay in many companies. However, Youzan’s move reflects a growing trend to reduce costs and increase efficiency, particularly in the tech sector where agility and innovation are crucial.

The HRBP Role and Its Evolution

The HRBP role, originally designed to bridge HR functions and business needs, has faced criticism within Youzan. Employees have expressed dissatisfaction with HRBPs, citing a lack of business understanding and inefficiency. This sentiment, combined with financial pressures, has led to the reevaluation and subsequent cancellation of these roles.

Cost-Cutting and Efficiency

Industry experts, such as Da Yu, believe that Youzan's primary motivation is cost reduction. The company's stock price has significantly dropped, making survival and cost-efficiency paramount. Cutting non-revenue generating roles like HRBP is seen as a necessary step. This trend is not isolated; smaller companies often function without specialized HR roles, relying on leaner structures to maintain efficiency.

The Future of HR in Tech

The cancellation of HRBP roles at Youzan could herald a new era for HR functions in the tech industry. By integrating HR responsibilities into business units, companies may achieve greater alignment between business objectives and HR activities. However, this also raises concerns about employee welfare and organizational health. HRBPs traditionally oversee performance reviews, employee welfare, and team building—functions crucial for maintaining a positive workplace culture.

Comparing Domestic and International Practices

Internationally, the role of HRBPs is less pronounced. In Silicon Valley, HRBPs primarily handle onboarding and offboarding, with limited involvement in day-to-day operations. This contrasts with the strong presence and influence of HRBPs in Chinese tech companies, where they play a significant role in performance management and cultural alignment.

Did You Know?

  • The HRBP concept originated in China, with many domestic tech giants adopting the “HR three-pillar model” (COE, HRBP, and SSC) to align HR functions with business strategies.
  • In companies like Tencent and Alibaba, senior HRBPs wield significant influence, including decision-making power over compensation.
  • In contrast, in Western companies like Google, HR roles are more supportive and less involved in direct business operations, relying on practices like OKRs for performance management.
  • The shift away from HRBPs in companies like Youzan reflects a blend of industrial efficiency (à la Foxconn) and innovative flexibility (à la Google), aiming to balance structure with creativity.


Youzan’s decision to cancel HRBP positions represents a significant shift in organizational strategy aimed at improving efficiency and reducing costs. This move, reflective of broader industry trends, could signal a new era in HR management within the tech sector. While the immediate focus is on operational efficiency, the long-term impact on employee welfare and organizational culture remains to be seen. As other companies watch closely, the success of this transition could influence HR practices across the tech industry.

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