People & Leadership

Is it goodbye HR, hello People teams? How to get the most from your people

People Company

The people who make up a company are so much more than a resource. They are its ideas; its creativity; its ambition; and its potential. They are its values and culture. They are one of the company’s biggest assets for growth commercially. More than anything, they are people with different motivations, mindsets, passions and interests.

So why do we still call the department responsible for its people human resources? And why is a company’s biggest asset for growth – its people – only seen as the responsibility of that one team?

Goodbye HR: a new world

The make-up of a company’s workforce and how, when, and where it works has fundamentally changed – and today’s workforce is more diverse, mobile and technologically-enabled than ever.

For the first time, the workforce is comprised of five different generations, all working side-by-side, and all coming with varying expectations and standards.

The contingent workforce is growing and becoming more diverse to include agencies, freelancers, gig workers and job bidders, presenting challenges to the way leaders manage their teams and track performance.

This is magnified by a culture of employee mobility, especially among millennials – meaning the retention of high-performing talent is more vital than ever.

Employees are increasingly seeing seamless customer experiences in their companies, and demanding the same from their employer; they want to book time off on their mobile at the touch of a button, as easily as they can shop online in the same way.

Furthermore, low unemployment and the war for talent have given people choice, and organizations must therefore work harder to attract the best talent.

Hello people: embracing change

As a result, HR teams are moving towards automating a lot of the traditional ways of working, and giving their employees autonomy to do things themselves. The workforce is moving away from solely being the responsibility of the HR team – and instead, forward-thinking organizations are recognizing the whole leadership team need to focus on this.

All this means HR and people teams are free to focus on people, and have wider support to do so from the rest of the business.

These people-centered organizations – or, ‘People Companies’ – are organizations which truly put their people at the heart of what they do. They have certain characteristics which set them apart from others. Most of all, they acknowledge that the people agenda is not the sole responsibility of the Human Resources department, and this is reflected in how they engage their workforce.

People Companies understand that HR operations as we know it is transitioning to automation and augmented intelligence; gut feel and spreadsheets is moving towards People Science and analytics; traditional recruitment methods are making way for employer branding and People Marketing; occasional clunky HR systems are transforming to on-demand mobile apps, designed for employees; company training is being facilitated through autonomous and social learning; year-end reviews are being replaced with continuous performance conversations; and annual engagement measures are being replaced with continually creating great workforce experiences.

People Companies are also embracing the shift from HR to people by appointing Chief People Officers, or CPOs, and other focused roles, such as People Scientists and Business Psychologists.

Members of the executive board, CPOs don’t just direct human resourcing, but orchestrate and leading the experiences of the people in a company. They facilitate the people agenda’s responsibility with the whole leadership team and other people-focused roles, so that the company places enough focus on embracing and leveraging their people. This includes their different motivations, mindsets, passions and interests – and how the organization embraces and leverage these. They use actionable insights from People Scientists to identify patterns and trends, and create great workforce experiences.

Getting ahead

People Companies automating transactional processes and leaving their leaders free to focus on people get quicker feedback and take remedial action. By continually redesigning better ways of working, People Companies provide better workforce experiences and see a faster impact on engagement and productivity as a result.

Just as we waved goodbye to Personnel in the 1980s, we’re now waving goodbye to Human Resources and saying hello to a people function, to reflect that a workforce is so much more than a resource – it’s made up of people.

The question is: are you embracing the transition?