It all started in Silicon Valley, as many management trends do, when in 2006 Google refashioned their Human Resources Department into People Operations. As the title has become more common, it would be easy to think this change was merely a branding exercise, accompanying the proliferation of job listings calling for ninjas, rockstars and gurus.
However, creating a People Operations group requires more than replacing the sign on the door. It requires rethinking the role that employees play in the organization and the ensuing infrastructure needed to support them.
Human Resources Is Reactive and Static
In the Human Resources model, employees are treated as static resources and the department as a cost center. In a way, HR is like managing the supply closet of people: they are hired and fired; their empty spots are refilled; they are necessary and unexciting; and they are not thought about unless something goes wrong. In this scenario, HR is reactive, carrying out the directions of managers. This approach invites the shift to automation and outsourcing. Onboarding can be done online and employees can be tracked through programs and systems.
People Operations is Proactive and Engaging
People Operations invites a shift in the opposite direction. Instead of making HR less personal, People Operations requires more involvement at every level of an organization. There is a saying that in professional service companies, your greatest asset walks out the door each night. At a service provider like Lucas Group, our employees are our product. Here, People Operations asks “how are our employees improving?” and engages them through training and development. This is a strategic approach and requires looking for any business gaps and holistic opportunities.
Creating a People Operations team requires a buy-in at all levels of an organizations. CEOs and executive leaders need to welcome their involvement early in the process of setting company direction and goals. People Operations must have the support and backing to identify and champion organizational change. Sponsorship can only be successful with a top-down and bottom-up approach with engagement from the entire organization.
A great starting place is to bring to life and communicate your company goals and your mission and vision statements. Our associates want clearer goals, more feedback from managers and better internal communication channels. Leaning in and providing new and more frequent communication to Associates serves the purpose to create a community of leaders and provide strategic direction.
The shift from Human Resources to People Operations isn’t about a name change; it is about empowering a team to add value and contribute to a company’s success as a strategic and proactive partner. At Lucas Group, this change is based in the philosophy that retaining talent means that you have to get to know and nurture your talent.
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How is your HR division improving the employee experience?