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The Importance of People Ops in HR Transformation

April 18, 20249 min read

Over the past 15 years, human resources (HR) has gradually expanded from its traditional responsibilities, such as legal compliance, ethics, and the structural organization of employees, to incorporate more People Operations, which is more concerned with results and strategies for employee engagement and effective management. With modern People Ops, employees are integral to the company's success. HR teams will focus on employee development, employee goals, and employee engagement, along with digitalization and modernization of the HR department. With a people strategy in mind, employees are recruited based on long-term goals, with their development and satisfaction considered from the start of their employment. First brought to the spotlight by Google in the early 2000s, People Operations reinvents the HR wheel with a fresh, people-first, data-centric approach. It's all about creating a work culture where employee engagement is key, leading to skyrocketing organizational performance. 

The Evolution of HR to People Ops

In the late 1980s, large businesses began seeing the strategic benefits of HR in helping grow their organizations. Since then, the concept of people operations and its function has continued to develop and be refined, where HR focuses on recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent in their industry. The traditional HR teams focused primarily on administrative tasks and were very process-oriented. It was not holistic or strategic. However, a People Ops strategy changed it by viewing employees as internal customers who need to be satisfied, leading to more internal success.

The Shift Towards Strategic People Operations

People Ops marks a significant departure from traditional HR practices, emphasizing a more strategic and holistic approach to managing human capital. Unlike their predecessors, which often treated employees as expendable resources, People Ops advocates recognize the critical role of employee engagement and experience in driving organizational success. By prioritizing employee success, professional development, and work-life balance initiatives, People Ops seeks to create a workplace culture that fosters motivation, productivity, and retention.

With the advent of HR technology, the shift to People Ops has become even more prominent. The emergence of HR information systems (HRIS), data analytics, and AI has made the People Ops function even more valuable. HRIS gives HR departments access to robust technology that enhances the employee experience. Employee engagement, performance management, succession planning, and applicant tracking systems are all used to maximize the workforce experience and the effectiveness of a People Operations department. Through integration, HRIS systems provide an organization with vast amounts of data in a single place, enabling data-driven analytics and informed HR strategy. By aggregating and analyzing data properly, people operations teams can improve the effectiveness of an organization's hiring process, enhance employee retention rates, and help increase internal performance and employee experiences throughout the organization.

Shift Towards Strategic People Operations - Understanding the transition from administrative HR tasks to holistic employee-focused strategies.

Key Responsibilities of People Ops

Talent Acquisition and Employee Retention

The traditional HR model for talent acquisition treated talent acquisition as an administrative function, which led to low employee retention, high employee turnover, and suboptimal performance. The role of HR traditionally was to create job descriptions, conduct interviews, and find strong candidates. However, with the evolution of People Ops, talent acquisition has undergone a significant transformation.

Strategic Talent Acquisition in People Ops

People Operations developed talent acquisition to become more of a strategic function. The focus shifted to hiring employees that would fit the strategic organizational goals and culture. Now, HR leaders use employer branding to help drive recruits who share the same values as the organization. In addition, recruitment takes the candidate's experience into account. Onboarding HRIS technology has eliminated many redundant tasks that candidates need to complete, and HR professionals now stress the importance of an efficient application experience to keep the candidates happy.

Utilizing HR Analytics and AI for Enhanced Talent Acquisition

Through HR analytics in recruitment, HR professionals can leverage and analyze past recruitment to attract top talent better and provide a positive experience for job candidates through streamlined applicant tracking.

Additionally, AI technologies can help source high-quality, high-fit candidates by automatically screening resumes and applications to create a comprehensive profile of an employee that will fit their needs. HR analytics and AI can also predict which candidates will stay with the organization based on their professional profile and employment history. Employee retention can not be understated. High employee turnover can throw a wrench in your organization's strategy and growth trajectory, putting your success on the line. When employees start heading out the door, your talent team switches to emergency mode, scrambling to fill positions with new hires instead of focusing on nurturing and developing the long-term talent crucial for sustained success. Leveraging data analytics in People Operations allows for identifying patterns and characteristics of candidates most likely to stay, enabling organizations to prioritize those individuals in the hiring process strategically. 

Additionally,  McKinsey's latest report, "Diversity Matters Even More: The Case for Holistic Impact", sheds light on the correlation between a diverse workforce and organizational success. AI tools enhance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) hiring initiatives, ensuring a wider range of perspectives that foster innovation and reflect a more comprehensive understanding of the global talent market.

Employee Development - Nurturing Talent in People Ops

A People Ops HR model stresses the importance of your business strategy, which includes developing employees and managing their job performance. This holistic approach encompasses various aspects of employee development and organizational goals.

HR Technology in Employee Development - Exploring the role of HRIS technology in nurturing talent and fostering employee growth.

Performance Management - Setting Goals and Monitoring Progress

Performance management starts with creating company and individual goals for the employee. These goals are tracked and monitored by the HR teams and then reviewed during the company's review period. Performance improvement plans (PIPs) have also been a popular new concept. PIPs address underperforming employees and allow managers and HR teams to address their concerns with an employee journey and create a plan to help that employee get back on the right track.

Skills Development - Fostering Growth and Retention

People Ops has also focused on developing employee skills. Up-skilling and reskilling employees have increased employee retention rates and performance rates. Offering learning and development courses increases employee production while fostering a culture of improvement. Even more so, succession planning initiatives give employees insights into promotion opportunities and more knowledge of the organization's structure. Instead of feeling like a cog in a machine, employees feel a part of a team.

HRIS Technology in Employee Development

HRIS technology further enhances performance management, succession planning, and employee development. Performance management systems allow HR teams and managers to create and track employee goals. Managers appraise these goals and give them the ability to offer instant feedback to employees. In addition, the data from performance management can show essential data, such as lead and lag indicators, to evaluate a team's performance.

Succession Planning and Learning Development

Succession planning HRIS technology has also become increasingly popular in HR. Succession planning systems create an open environment where employees can see where their next potential promotion is needed and what skills they need to acquire to get there, fostering individual employee motivation to advance within the company. Succession planning also gives an employee a view into organizational structure and the ability to reskill and change their work departments. Learning and Development HRIS platforms further supplement succession planning and performance management by providing opportunities for employees to learn new skills and refine their current skills. Online courses and tests allow employees to develop into top talent by acquiring the necessary skills that the organization needs.

Benefits of People Ops - Discover the advantages of embracing People Operations, from talent acquisition to employee well-being.

Employee Well-being and Work-Life Balance: Nurturing a Healthy Workplace

People ops HR also stresses the importance of a work-life balance and employee well-being. Strategic HR prioritizes the key concerns of all employees, adopting best practices to guarantee these results while acknowledging its critical role in fostering their happiness and retaining top talent within the organization.

Promoting Work-Life Balance Through Flexibility

HR practices can significantly enhance employees' work-life balance through flexible work arrangements. HR professionals are uniquely positioned to implement diverse work policies, including remote work, flextime, and job sharing. These strategies empower employees to meet personal obligations while maintaining productivity. The option to work remotely on selected days offers employees the flexibility to manage essential personal tasks without the added stress of commuting. Furthermore, flextime enables employees to adjust their working hours to effectively accommodate family and other personal commitments.

Fostering Employee Well-being Through Wellness Programs

Prioritizing employee well-being nurtures a vibrant and contented work environment. HR departments orchestrate wellness programs to bolster the employees' physical and mental health. These teams might offer perks such as discounted gym memberships, access to counseling sessions, or nutrition workshops. Furthermore, adopting well-being HRIS technology allows employees to monitor their health goals, accumulating points for achievements that can be exchanged for rewards. This approach enhances employee wellness and enriches HR analytics with valuable data.

Benefits of People Ops

The shift from traditional HR to People Ops can be used in a variety of ways. Each providing its own unique benefit to the organization. Performance management will increase employees' productivity in the workplace and let managers actively know how their direct reports are performing. There is also the added ability to address performance concerns as they happen in real-time.

Investing in People Ops teams significantly boosts employee satisfaction. By implementing work-life balance programs, employees can manage their personal obligations without sacrificing productivity. Moreover, succession planning and employee engagement initiatives create an environment that promotes open communication and offers opportunities for employees to develop skills needed for advancement within the company. Additionally, having a dedicated People Operations team provides a competitive advantage by attracting top talent with comprehensive talent acquisition strategies. Efficient resume screening processes save time and ensure recruiters identify the ideal candidates. Furthermore, analyzing past recruitment trends allows HR teams to refine their hiring practices for optimal results.

Conclusion

Since the dawn of the 21st century, traditional HR has evolved dramatically into People Operations, a transformation accelerated by the advent of HR analytics and HRIS technology. Previously, HR primarily managed administrative duties. Now, with the introduction of a People Operations specialist, it has become a crucial strategic element within any organization. A People Operations department leverages HRIS technology and analytics to streamline processes, significantly improve the employee experience, and inform decisions with data. The advantages of having a dedicated People Ops team are manifold, providing organizations with a competitive edge in their industry.

HR TransformationPeople OperationsStrategic HRHR TechnologyEmployee EngagementTalent AcquisitionPerformance ManagementEmployee developmentWork-life BalanceHRIS TechnologySuccession PlanningEmployee well-beingDigital HR StrategyData-driven TechnologyHR Analytics

WILLIAM RIZZO

Managing Partner & Chief Strategies qs2500.com

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