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What is people operations?

People Operations – also referred to as People Ops – is the overall management of the workforce in a company. It's considered to be a business function within human resources that focuses on employee training, development, engagement and retention.

People operations is a business function that puts employees first. Despite the fact that it falls under the HR umbrella, People Ops has a broader scope: it involves all actions that help employees be productive at work, from the moment they’re hired to the moment they leave.

Let’s look at the main responsibilities of people operations in more detail. They are:

  • Modernize and digitalize outdated, bureaucratic HR systems, including payroll and applicant tracking software.
  • Treat employees as internal customers and increase their satisfaction.
  • Support employees on a day-to-day basis and answer questions about benefits and company policies.
  • Keep track of and analyze HR metrics (e.g. turnover rates, time to hire).
  • Onboard new employees and ensure they have access to necessary resources and tech.

Overall, the role of people operations is to empower employees and facilitate the day-to-day work life. Depending on the company’s size and objectives, there could be one or multiple employees responsible for the people operations. For example, one company might choose to hire a people operations specialist who’ll take care of new employees as they join the company and for their first six months until they’re fully productive. Or, another company might create an entire people team that’ll redesign the entire HR department and will be responsible for the entire employee lifecycle inside the organization.

Want more definitions? See our complete library of HR Terms.

Frequently asked questions

What does a People Operations Specialist do?

A People Ops Specialist is responsible for running data checks and ensuring all HR records are accurate and up to date and that all queries are answered promptly. They provide onboarding support for new hires and often work alongside other teams, including Recruitment.

What skills do you need for a People Operations Specialist position?

The People Operations Specialist role requires that you have many skills and abilities to do the job efficiently. A few of these skills and qualifications include being skilled in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Knowledge of HRIS and payroll systems. Demonstrated ability to research and analyze problems at a senior level, providing feedback, guidance, and direction. A clear understanding of Human Resources practices and legal requirements.

IS operations and HR the same?

HR is in the objectives and goals of each. People Operations proactively focuses on employee engagement and retention as well as leadership and management strategies. At the same time, Human Resources is more focused on the practical aspects of employee management, including legal, ethical, and structural.

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