People Operations: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

How a company manages its workforce is often key to its long-term success. Considering the employees first when making business decisions emphasizes the value an organization places on them. An organization can improve employee engagement and retention by focusing on providing a supportive environment where employees can advance their careers. In this article, we discuss what people operations is, define its roles and responsibilities, consider the benefits of this management style, detail how it differs from traditional human resource management, and discover how it helps employees succeed.

What does people operations mean?

People operations is the management of employees in an organization. While it's part of the broader human resources department, it's a specialized team that focuses on engagement, development, and retention. This team aims to provide employees with the resources and opportunities for them to be successful in the organization. The success of the team has a positive impact on the organization by creating a stable workforce, which reduces the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training new members of staff.

What are the roles and responsibilities of this team?

The primary focus of the team is to engage employees to increase the likelihood they remain with the organization and have the opportunity to develop their careers. The responsibilities of the team include:

  • Updating processes within an organization to increase efficiency and use more effective automation

  • Ensuring that all staff in the organization have the resources they require to be successful in their roles and offering additional resources or support when necessary

  • Responding to employee questions relating to their roles and responsibilities

  • Analyzing human resources to identify areas where they can make positive changes

  • Improving hiring practices so the organization attracts high-quality and skilled candidates

  • Completing new employee onboarding and orientation, so they understand their roles and responsibilities

  • Attracting and retaining high-quality employees that can add value to the organization

  • Identifying the skills of employees and helping them develop their professional careers through the provision of developmental resources

  • Designing attractive compensation strategies and packages that reflect the value of the employee to the organization

  • Ensuring the organization complies with any regulations and contractual obligations


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What are the benefits of this approach to the human resource department?

There are a number of reasons why the people operations team is important and why organizations view it as adding value to their operation. The benefits of having this team in an organization can include the following:

Tailored onboarding

Those working on the team place an emphasis on the onboarding and orientation process when a new employee starts with the company. Creating a positive first experience for a new employee is important in making the employee feel welcome in the organization. Aspects of each onboarding process are similar, but there are job-specific aspects that are important to the success of each new employee. Companies can overlook these if they adopt a less personal onboarding process.

Although tailored onboarding involves a time investment, it ensures that new employees receive all the information relevant to their role when they start. This helps with their integration into the organization and the employees' success. A new employee that becomes competent quickly in their role lessens the impact of a staff member leaving and alleviates the risk of challenging team dynamics. Tailored onboarding also introduces the new team member to this style of human resource management and what it offers,

Improved employee morale

One of the goals of the team is to create a work environment that encourages each employee to succeed. One way they achieve this is by using a more personalized management style that makes employees feel the organization values their contribution. This can lead to an improvement in employee morale. When employee morale is high, staff are more likely to feel satisfied in their work. Ultimately, this has a positive impact on productivity while reducing staff turnover. Low staff turnover also saves hiring and training cost.

Higher retention rates

A workplace with a positive work culture, access to resources for professional development, and support to ensure employees succeed in their roles creates an environment where staff feel the company values their contribution. This means employee satisfaction scores are likely to be high. Satisfied employees who are happy in their work are less likely to look for opportunities to advance their careers outside of the organization. This means that employee retention rates are likely to be high.

Increased external interest

When a company has a highly satisfied workforce, its appeal to those outside the organization grows. Employees want to work for employers that value them. If jobseekers become aware that a company has a positive work environment and plenty of opportunities for developing their careers, they're more likely to pay attention to job openings and opportunities in that organization.

Modernized work structures

Although this approach is relatively new, it represents the future direction of human resources. Companies that implement this approach are likely to benefit because it focuses on addressing many of the challenges organizations face in the current work environment. Managing a workforce using this modern work structure offers solutions that can address employment-related challenges, including high staff turnover, high recruitment and hiring costs, and decreased employee satisfaction.

Increased support for employees

By focusing on ensuring that each employee within the organization has access to the resources and tools they require to be successful in their role, the team creates an environment where employees feel the company appreciates them. With increased access to training, support is available for the employee to develop their skills and advance their careers. This approach also ensures that employees receive answers to their questions and support when required. By supporting staff, the organization improves efficiency and long-term productivity, as staff have the tools to be effective in their roles.

Read more: 8 Tips for Managing Yourself Effectively

How is people operations different from human resource management?

There's an ideological difference between these two styles of managing a workforce in an organization. A human resources department regards employees as resources. It typically uses processes to resolve issues, with people being a secondary concern. A people operations team approaches issues with an employee focus at the forefront and seeks to build processes that directly benefit employees. A human resources department tends to react when there are issues in the workforce, while a people operations team aims to be proactive and create an environment with processes that deal with potential issues before they arise.

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How does it help employees succeed?

A people operations team helps those within an organization to succeed in a variety of ways, including:

Professional development

This approach aims to ensure every employee feels supported and has the opportunity for professional development. They work with individual employees to identify their long-term goals and help them devise a plan to develop their skills and achieve those goals. Traditionally, the professional development opportunities in an organization have focused on senior or professional employees, often at the expense of those in supportive roles. This approach recognizes the importance of each employee in the organization.

Workplace responsiveness

It's important an employer is responsive to any challenges an employee may experience. This style of managing a workforce aims to create a people-orientated environment where employees are comfortable raising issues because they're confident that a highly responsive team can address them. By focusing on providing solutions, a culture that encourages staff to address issues helps to limit discontent among employees and increases job satisfaction.

Clear expectations

The team works with each employee to equip them with the tools they require to be successful in their role. This process ensures the company communicates their clear expectations to the employee relating to performance and role. Expectations become achievable when employees receive support, and the open-door proactive approach means they have the confidence to discuss any issues relating to meeting expectations. Understanding where they fit in the organization and the impact of their role is key to improving long-term employee productivity.

Improving advancement opportunities

When a company provides the support and tools necessary for an employee to be successful, they also encourage them to achieve their professional goals. This person-centric approach to human resources aims to work with each individual employee to provide opportunities that equip them with the skills to develop their careers so they can work towards progressing to senior or advanced roles. By creating these opportunities for employees, satisfaction levels increase and staff turnover decreases, and the company reaps the benefits of a stable workforce.

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