Exciting new world ahead for HR (or People Operations, I should say)

If you’ve followed my journey for the past year, you’re aware that I left my long-time gig with HubSpot to build my own software company with two fantastic other people.

It’s been 11 months since we officially started Compt and holy cow change. It’s more exciting and also more difficult than I previously imagined.

Some things that stand out as significant adjustments for me have been:

  • Marketing to marketers versus marketing to HR/People Operations. First off, I hate the title marketing. I think there’s a ton of baggage and I’d prefer to think of it as providing value and sharing ideas and concepts that could help others. So, I’m changing my marketing title to People Operations trend seeker and sharer. 😉 Just joking, but the transition from marketing to marketers to marketing to HR has been a fascinating, and challenging one. It’s an entirely different department and function that I’ve been accustomed to working with and understanding since my career began. Just this transition alone has helped me to expand my business acumen tremendously.
  • Also, going from a large company with over 2,000 people to a small company with 4 (soon to be five). In a small company, there is zero ego, zero politics and everyone’s goals align with the business. Not that that wasn’t happening at HubSpot, but as any company grows, it becomes more complicated to navigate the shifts or leaps that come with scale.
  • Early stage companies need to build everything. By the time I got to HubSpot, the inbound story had already been developed, and my goal with building the Academy team with the others was to focus on building upon and scaling that story. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s the easy stuff. Creating a new space is not easy, but it’s much easier for people who join once the groundwork has been laid.

I’ve also noticed so. many. emerging trends in HR/People Operations. The amount of change undergoing the HR function today reminds me of what was happening for marketers 10 years ago.

A decade ago, when the internet became the content behemoth that we know it as today, marketers were met with tons of additional opportunity. Reason being, the internet gave them more data, more information, more reach, and with all of those – more responsibility and respect.

Fast forward to today, the world of HR is just beginning this transition.

5 Significant transformations in the world of HR include the following: 

1. “HR” is now “People Operations”

You might have already picked up on this, but there’s a huge shift from calling the department and role HR (short for human resources) to People Operations. Titles are shifting to coincide too.

Reason being, there’s so much happening in the world of HR, or People Ops rather, that a rebrand was almost inevitable. The name change also matters because it signifies a new group or batch of professionals have arrived and they approach the function dramatically different than their more experienced counterparts.

2. New research available on how people want to work

In the early 2000’s, there began a new way of behavioral science research and organizational network analysis (ONA). Substantial research on these topics has only gained speed since then.

Nowadays research is completed and more accessible and understandable than before, thanks to websites like content publications like Harvard Business Review, HR Trend Institute, and podcasts on productivity research and the future of work.

Below are just a few of the new research emerging on workplace best practices:

3. New ways of working are emerging, and so is software to align with it

As new research emerges, so do new ways policies, programs, softwares to better support team members.

For example – digital marketers went through a period of focus on personalization – i.e. showing the right message to the right person at the right time. And now, people operations are going through a personalization transformation too. To assist companies in navigating the transition, many new software products have popped up.

Robin helps companies to personalize their work locations using hotdesking.

Ace-Up helps employers give targetted and hyper-focused one-on-one coaching to executives and team members.

Compt helps companies to transform their generic one-size-fits-all perks offerings into personalized programs that solve for everyone.

Other massive shifts happening in the way people want to work, including the following:

  • A desire to understand the higher purpose or “why” behind the company and the work.
  • Increased passion for working for a company that has similarly aligned contribution goals to society and values.
  • Demand for increased flexibility with work location and hours.
  • More supportive work environments which include multi-purpose areas for different types of work like collaborative, solo focus, light traffic, meditation, and more.

4. Access to more data than ever before

The collection and use of workforce data to analyze, predict, and enhance performance has exploded over the last few years.

It makes sense. There’s so much data available. Companies can now have their employees wear monitors to track them and their movements. Companies can integrate health and wellness programs with software and wearables that keep them up-to-date on employees’ health vitals. Organizations now have productivity tracking software to find out who is working, how much, from where, and more.

With all this data at their fingertips, there is now a new and significant role at organizations: talent analytics.

Talent analytics professionals can also find out:

  • What employee burnout is, and what are the most popular factors which lead to it
  • Predict what makes a great sales rep (i.e. is it sales experience, customer service experience, or something else)
  • Uncover just how much a manager’s guidance plays a role in a person’s success
  • How likely people are to recommend your organization as a place to work (aka eNPS)

And so much more.

5. The emergence of a more serious employee success-obsessed mission

Where most people at companies are customer success-obsessed, people operations professionals are employee success-obsessed.

CAC, LTV, NPS, churn/retention are metrics focused heavily on customer-success. However, they can also be adapted to focus on employee success.

And today, many of the biggest brands like Virgin are focusing more on employee success than on customer success. As Virgin founder and CEO said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they take care of your clients.”

This is not a novel concept, but as the research on the role employee happiness plays in productivity, and a company’s overall success continues to grow and spread, more people are beginning to turn their focus back to the employee.

To help me learn and navigate this new space, and set our company up for success – we’ve created all sorts of helpful resources:

Resources for People Operations professionals:

What do you think about the transformation happening in the HR and people operations profession? Are there any other major shifts happening that I missed? Leave them in the comments section below.