How People Operations Is Solving Small-Business HR Problems

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Small businesses are great for a number of reasons: they are the backbone of the economy, they offer more opportunity and creativity, and they can interact with their employees on a more personal level.

Yet, due to limited resources in their human resource (HR) departments, small businesses may struggle to meet their employees’ needs and manage them most effectively.

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Sometimes a need creeps up and a business has to fill a position immediately. They rush the hiring process to get a warm body to fill the vacancy only to find that person isn't the best fit. The hiring process is already costly when you add up recruitment, training, and benefits costs. When a business has to rehire for a position, money and morale go down the drain.

Employers also deal with the burden of managing employees effectively to get the intended results. With limited resources, personnel, and time, this can be a struggle. Small businesses may not have the time or resources to train employees adequately before they are called into action. This can lead to all sorts of miscommunications and problems.

Historically, HR has largely been responsible for solving the potential problems we've mentioned. They've been a vital part of keeping small businesses going even when things get tough. This is why so many companies are outsourcing their HR functions to full-service HR firms like Flex HR. 

Human Resources: The original problem solvers

Over the years, HR has fulfilled the role of hiring and managing employees. They ensure employees are toeing the line, referring back to the handbook or the expectations that were outlined at the time the employee was hired.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, HR teams had to go above and beyond, redefining what employee engagement looks like and learning how to do much of the work virtually.

As more of the population has shifted to working from home, HR had to adjust. For one thing, people are working much more independently with less supervision. Initially this shift appeared to have increased productivity. However, now employees are using their commute time to do more work. Working from home has pushed the boundaries between work and home life, however, and HR departments have been pushed to their max to help sort this out.

Traditionally, HR teams have been responsible for a variety of tasks, including recruiting, training, and setting up payroll and benefits for employees. They have contributed to the smoothness of operations and the success of the individuals as well as the company. They have handled administrative tasks, planning, development, risk management, compliance, and ethics.

Yet, the winds of change have been blowing for a while, as Human Resources is no longer the only place businesses look to solve their people problems.

How People Operations can help

Over the last couple of decades, People Operations has become absolutely necessary. What exactly does the term People Operations entail?

As the trend in the workforce has moved towards giving employees more autonomy and flexibility, employees have had to learn to supervise themselves. The Operations Department, which is responsible for overseeing general operations, has had to stretch to fill gaps that HR couldn't.

Operations managers slowly moved away from simply managing projects and outcomes and instead started to support employees and enable them to produce the best results on their own. From this trend, Human Resources and Operations merged to form People Operations.

People Operations overlaps with Human Resources in many respects, but has some additional responsibilities which helps the department address some of the pressing problems small businesses face.

People Operations oversees projects, keeping track of production and making sure deadlines are met. They are connected with team members and have regular check-ins.

Like HR, People Operations try to develop a psychologically healthy and accepting atmosphere where team members build one another up. They ensure employees are experiencing fulfillment and are happy in their jobs to prevent employee turnover.

A People Operations Director helps to manage changes in company standards and procedures. They facilitate and guide employees in setting and meeting goals. They are simultaneously people- and project-oriented.

Schedule employees with ease

Sage HR offers an intuitive interface that visualizes employee schedules.

  • Easily receive employee requests
  • View schedules across numerous timeframes
  • One-click time-off approval and easy schedule templates

The takeaway

Before your company becomes submerged with hiring and employee management issues, you may want to consider creating an HR department or using an external one for your small business. You may find that creating a People Operations department will be a better fit than a Human Resources department, especially if your company is project- and result-driven. If you aren't sure which direction you want to go, you may want to consult with some HR experts.

Whatever you choose, know that people and results matter, and you can now manage them both effectively!

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At, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Jamie Sieja
Written by
Jamie Sieja
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