Have you heard the phrase people operations? Is it right for your company? Some recent statistics may help you decide. Approximately 40 percent of employees who quit in 2017 did so within 12 months of being hired, according to a study based on data from over 34,000 exit interviews analyzed by the Work Institute.
About half of workers who departed in their first year left quickly within the first 90 days. And the number of employees who quit their jobs keeps rising each year. So if you haven’t considered people operations, you should.
So what exactly is people operations? It’s a mantra of putting the employee first.
The term was coined by former Google HR director, Laszlo Bock who later wrote a book about it called Work Rules! It involves any action needed to make an employee successful at work from onboarding until they leave the company. This also includes things like updating HR systems, treating employees as customers, supporting employees daily, analyzing HR metrics, and making sure everyone has the training tools they need to be successful.
How do people operations differ from human resources?
The next question you may be asking isn’t people operations just HR? Many human resource professionals argue that they are the same. However, while there are some similarities, there are differences worth noting.
Planning versus reacting
The traditional approach of HR is to hire a replacement when a position is vacant. Instead, people operations aims to please and support the current workforce so that there is less turnover. And with fewer people leaving there’s a decreased need to spend time hiring replacement team members.
Linear versus agile
Like every department within a company, HR serves a purpose. They have a list of tasks that they must complete. These could be hiring new employees, manage payroll, set training schedules, create performance reviews and schedule exit interviews. While this approach follows a very set path, people operations is more agile in nature. In other words, it looks at the overall business objectives and works to obtain these. So this approach may jump around the process depending on what works best to help serve the employees.
Solo operation versus cross-functional
While many departments collaborate within a company, human resources is sometimes left on its own. A marketing department, for example, may go to HR when a new employee needs to be hired, but there’s no interaction on a day to day basis. The goal of people operations, on the other hand, is to connect all departments together. So for example, looking at the business objectives, people operations would reach out to various departments to discuss how these could be met. Then by working together all objectives are achieved in a cohesive manner.
Best practices to keep top of mind
When rolling out people operations or hiring for this position, there are a few functions this person or department should focus on. Here are the key PeopleOps responsibilities to focus on to help strengthen your company culture.
This person or team needs to focus on managing the overall work production much like a project manager would manage a project. By focusing on the various departments and how they are working together, people operations helps streamline the process. They work to correct any bottlenecks or issues along the way.
Another function is constantly checking in with various department heads to see how day to day operations are going. This needs to be done in a way that won’t interrupt workflow so utilizing tools like slackbots or standups. But whatever method you use should improve the process without slowing it down.
One of the best ways to bring employees together is with a collaborative culture. So a robust focus on continual learning is key to building a cohesive company. You want all employees to feel valued and appreciated for their role within the organization.
There needs to be a focus on employee recognition spearheaded by people operations. Whether this a formal employee reward system or a more informal set of emails sent around, the focus should be about appreciating hard work.
Whether a change is needed based on findings from people operations or management decides to shift business objectives, people ops needs to manage this change. By overseeing the change this person can make sure all employees and departments work together to implement it seamlessly.
People ops should be part of the major goals set by the company. They can weigh in on how achievable these will be and raise any concerns. And people operations can also help set goals for individual employees through KPIs and OKRs.
How to begin using people operations?
Any organization no matter how big or small can incorporate people operations into its structure. There are a few steps to help roll out the process. The entire human resource process doesn’t need to be overhauled, but the thinking needs to shift. With a more holistic approach in mind, the goal is to make employees happier and more engaged leading to less turnover and higher productivity.