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What is a people team?

Businesses have recently introduced the term "people team" along with new roles such as “People Manager”, “SVP People” or “People Operations Specialist”. These seemingly non-traditional job titles are actually alternate names for human resources or personnel professionals.

What those job titles have in common is the word “people”. Companies build people teams to shift the focus of HR from simply performing administrative tasks to taking care of what matters the most: their employees.

The people team is responsible for creating a healthy and productive workplace that attracts, retains, supports, engages and develops top talent.

This team maintains a holistic approach: it’s not only about hiring procedures, HR paperwork or office management; it’s all of these together, along with many more functions such as training and development, succession plans, diversity and inclusion, and employer branding. Read more about how people teams differ from HR teams.

Who is in a people team?

The structure of a people team differs across companies. For smaller companies, it could be a team of one to three recruiters and HR professionals who coordinate hiring, onboarding, training, and development, along with an office manager who handles the day-to-day life at work.

As companies scale, the people teams could grow, too, and create an entire people operations function. For example, they might add an employee with a marketing background to manage employer branding initiatives, such as gathering employee testimonials and building online content for the company’s careers page. The people team could also include an event organizer, to schedule training and team bonding activities for employees as well as recruitment events for potential candidates. Even someone with a background in IT can join a people team to manage all HR systems that are needed to ensure a smooth employee onboarding and management.

Depending on each company’s business goals, it might make sense to create specialized roles inside the people team. For example, an employee could be responsible for all diversity and inclusion efforts across the organization, e.g. in terms of hiring and payroll. Or, another one could be focused on employee satisfaction, e.g. by analyzing internal surveys and implementing new perks and benefits.

What does a people team do?

A people team handles all of the regular HR tasks, from recruiting to employee management, keeping the focus on employee satisfaction and well-being. Here are the main responsibilities of a people team:

  • Handle employee data (e.g. new hire information and employment contracts) in an efficient way, using secure systems, applying automation when possible and reducing bureaucracy.
  • Understand labor law and deal with complex issues (e.g. remote or multinational teams).
  • Overview employee performance appraisals, coordinate trainings and lead employee development initiatives.
  • Manage the workplace in a way that employees are happy, motivated and productive. (e.g. by applying fair company policies)
  • Organize business events, team activities and trips.
  • Coordinate hiring managers so that the recruiting process is cohesive and objective.
  • Build a strong employer brand and ensure all candidates have a positive experience.
  • Implement meaningful compensation and benefits packages that incentivize and retain employees.
  • Track HR metrics, identify areas of improvement in hiring and management and allocate budgets efficiently.
  • Provide necessary resources to all employees so that they’re able to perform their tasks successfully.

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

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