People Operations (PeopleOps) and Human Resources

What is People Operations?

People Operations, also known as PeopleOps, is the function/division within the organization that primarily focuses on employees’ development, engagement, and retention from their onboarding date until they leave the company.

Former HR director, Laszlo Bock, coined the term ‘People Operations’ for employees at Google. PeopleOps falls under the traditional HR department but intends to change the whole stereotype towards the HR department.

Difference Between People Operations vs. Human Resources

The term PeopleOps is comparable to HR as they both deal with people. In traditional Human Resources, employees are seen as resources only – members of an organization are compensated for their hard work, that’s all.

However, the PeopleOps approach is distinct because it understands the value of the employees, focuses on increasing productivity and enhancing their skills through training, and ensures that the employees are working happily in their workspace.

While PeopleOps is comparable with HR, the two terms are distinct. The table below outlines the main differences between the two.

Human Resources (HR) vs. People Operations (PeopleOps)

People Operations and Human Resources are both functions that concern the employees within an organization. Although they are responsible for similar tasks, PeopleOps and HR teams differ in the way they carry out these tasks.

Let us delve a little deeper to understand the role and function of Human Resources and PeopleOps.

People are treated as resources.People are respected as individual contributors who add value to work.




Recruit top talent. Utilize HR data to uncover employee patterns and trends.
People are treated as resources. People are respected as individual contributors who add value to work.
Reactive – responding to issues as they arise. Proactive – learning from failures and creating new systems to prepare for the future.
Hire a replacement when a position is vacant. Support the current workforce by developing a strategic hiring plan and reducing turnover.
Policies and processes (certain or most times) supersede employees’ needs. Employees’ needs and expectations are valued as they are customers.
Linear approach following a set path. Agile and integrated approach with people as the central focus.
Onboard and offboard employees. Improve employee experience, productivity, and empowerment.
Solo operation – many departments may collaborate within a company, whereas HR is likely to be siloed. Cross-functional – the goal of PeopleOps is to connect all departments.
Performs tasks as directed by management. Provides leadership with accountability and education for people-first management in alignment with company goals.
Execution – told what decisions to put into effect. Strategy – brought into the strategic conversation as a result of insight and opinions.

Human Resources (HR) as a function:

HR is defined as the effective management of people in an organization. The HR management is focused on various areas like recruitment and staffing, performance management, training and development, compensation and benefits, and labor & employee relations.

Many organizations treat each functional area distinct from the other, thus leading to a siloed approach. The standardized, transactional policies and procedures in HR hinder agility and personalization – the current buzz that, if practiced, can open the doorways to human experience (HX) and constructive culture.

People Operations as a function:

PeopleOps is vast and has an expansive scope. Its prominent role is to empower and propel the employees and facilitate everyday life in a workspace.

It involves all actions that help to make employees more productive at work. PeopleOps consider employees as their internal customers and helps increase their satisfaction. It improves the employees’ talent through self-directed and socialized learning and development programs.

PeopleOps offers personalized rewards and recognition that are not always extrinsic. Its focus is on creating meaningful work to feel intrinsically motivated to perform and grow within the workplace.

Companies have come to the realization that their HR department lacks one major aspect – and that is a human aspect. PeopleOps aims to design people-centric solutions, thus contributing toward a constructive organizational culture. It seeks to gratify and support the current members to have a productive journey.

PeopleOps is crucial for establishing clear expectations and setting boundaries in an organization. A clear process is set up for everything from hiring to onboarding to performance reviews, promotions, and rewards.

Today, organizations are slowly transitioning their HR function to PeopleOps. Are you?

The core intent of this transformational journey is to create human-centric workplaces. PeopleOps takes a holistic approach by designing a meaningful journey for the organizational members.

The shift from HR to PeopleOps

Bart Macdonald, CEO and co-founder of SaplingHR, explains that HR practices were viewed as employer-centric, focusing mostly on compliance and administration. However, throughout his years working in the HR space, he had first-hand experience with the shift toward a more strategic approach, which is People Operations.

Bart lists 3 ways in which organizations can become more strategic, namely:

1. Utilize data to make better decisions: Conduct an audit to determine which aspects of your HR program need attention. For example, exit survey data may reveal that employees are dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities for advancement. In this case, the company would greatly benefit from improving employee development

2. Invest in innovative technology tools: HR leaders should evaluate their current technology tools and research others that may help in streamlining processes in order to prioritize employees. For instance, implementing certain software can help automate the HR processes and provide smart recommendations. It may also automate tedious administrative tasks to improve efficiency in the workplace.

3. Develop employee-centric programs: Leverage the information you’ve gathered and the time you’ve saved by using technology tools to develop employee-centric HR practices. For example, 70% of employees who had a good onboarding experience are highly satisfied with their job, stating that they have “the best possible job.”


In conclusion, we must recognize that people drive organizations forward, and without satisfied employees, a business can’t reach its full potential. By putting the people at the forefront, your business will flourish.

PeopleOps is better than HR in all respects as it improves employee commitment, increases retention in the company, helps establish a strong company culture, and optimizes business performance.

PeopleOps sets goals to improve employee engagement and create more desirable work environments for current and future employees. Companies with high employee satisfaction not only benefit their employees but also retain highly skilled workers and reduce turnover.

In short, PeopleOps fosters room for innovation and improvement that help members become invaluable contributors to the business, thus maximizing the shareholders’ value.

To help employees reach their full potential, businesses must treat them like they matter, not just as resources. Resources tend to get discarded when they’re no longer regarded as valuable. Humans increase in value when you invest in them.

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