The Smarter Startup

People Operations vs. HR: What’s the Difference?

Think of People Operations as HR 2.0. As HR leaders started focusing more on the employee experience, they migrated into a strategic thought-leader.

In 2006 Google renamed its HR department “People Operations”. Since then, the term has seen a steady rise in adoption among companies of all sizes.

“People Operations” Interest Over Time:Line graph showing the increased number of Google searches for the term People Operations from 2006 to 2022

(A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term to date.)

But what exactly is People Operations? And what’s the difference between People Operations vs. HR? Are they really just the same thing?

HR 2.0: People Operations

Think of People Operations as HR 2.0. As HR leaders started focusing more on the employee experience, they migrated from a back-office, reactive HR role into a strategic thought-leader, “People Operations”.

People Operations leaders partner with the CEO and enable the leadership team to hire and build people programs designed to achieve the company’s vision. Starting with the candidate experience, People Operations programs are personalized to attract talent essential to achieve their company’s long-term goals. People Operations dynamically changes the workplace landscape by introducing new strategies and tools to adapt to its company’s needs and keep it competitive.

While People Operations onboarding, training, and performance programs capture the company’s values and culture, People Operations also focuses on advancing a workplace environment where people feel safe and respected, are encouraged to work autonomously, receive continual learning opportunities, and understand how their role positively impacts the overall company. It costs an employer an average of 33% of an employee’s yearly salary for their exit. Good people programs lead to 69% of employees staying at least 3 years (Source: Careerbuilder).

HR has traditionally focused on policy, organizational structure, and compliance. These areas have always been and will continue to be extremely important for any company. But they are no longer enough. To be competitive in today’s marketplace, companies also need to focus heavily on employees, through engagement, performance, experience, and retention programs.

People Operations
People Operations combines core HR functions with strategic growth operations.
Core HR Functions Strategic People Operations
  • Policy Development
  • Payroll
  • State Registrations
  • I-9 Onboarding
  • Offboarding & Severance
  • Compliance Training
  • Mission & Values
  • Recruiting
  • Global Rewards & Benefits
  • Goal Planning
  • Performance Reviews
  • Compensation & Retention
  • Remote & Gig Work Strategies

Seed Stage or Sooner

In anticipation of a slowing economy, the importance of strategic hiring and retaining key employees has heightened. Investors are increasingly interested in their investor company’s talent and culture. They are encouraging founders to have an experienced People Operations professional advising and driving talent acquisition, culture, performance, compensation, retention, and succession planning.

An experienced People Operations advisor can help a team identify the best strategy to help them grow, leveraging solutions like remote working, gig-workers, technological advances, and tools to automate and provide better employee experiences.

According to the Human Capital Institute, People Operations programs increase productivity, culture, and retention:

  • The ROI of Employee Onboarding is estimated to be $6,044-$11,799
  • Good onboarding increases retention levels by 82%
  • Effective training increases productivity by 70%
  • Bad hires cost an average of 24 days to hire a new worker

Burkland’s People Operations team is ready to help you as you scale your startup. Please contact us for more information.

“We wished we hired Burkland 6 months earlier, their strategic accounting, CFO and HR services have been instrumental to scaling our streaming business.”

~ Lauren DeVillier, Founder and CEO, Struum

“Burkland is a true partner to Monj. Using Burkland for financial guidance and tactical operations support allows us to focus on our customer offerings and growing our business.”

~ Adam DeVito, CEO, Monj