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Book Review of "People Operations: Automate HR, Design a Great Employee Experience, and Unleash Your Workforce"

With small businesses employing 47% of the workforce, it is vital for the health of the economy that they embrace an adapt-or-die mentality - but who has the time to drive the change? To the rescue comes People Operations: Automate HR, Design a Great Employee Experience, and Unleash Your Workforce, written by senior executives from Zenefits. This book serves as a practical guide for small businesses to find a foothold in today’s technical world by enabling their people to spend less time on manual processes and have more time to think strategically. Evident throughout the book is the Zenefits team’s passion for assisting small businesses and allowing their people - their most important asset - to shine.

The Zenefits team has created a how-to for existing businesses to transform an antiquated idea of Human Resources to a modernized People Operations (PeopleOps or POPS) structure that embraces the fast-paced, technologically focused culture of today by moving from the administrivia of paperwork to the strategy of people work. People Operations is a playbook encompassing a detailed plan on how to get started and successfully sustain a new way for your employees to find motivation and a collective purpose.

Mentioned throughout is how the COVID-19 pandemic puts thinking about the future of work at the top of all modern businesses' to-do list. A newly mobilized workforce has moved cloud computing technology to the forefront for new and long-standing businesses. In a post pandemic world, the traditional office is dying and digital nomads are the wave of the future, which necessitates the need for small businesses to become more fluid and flexible. The pandemic has created an onslaught of new compliance requirements that can make-or-break a small business, with reporting errors costing in excess of $30,000 in some situations. POPS leaders should (and can!) spend their time thinking about the employee experience, streamlining operations, and creating an engaging, inclusive culture.

The implementation of a POPS methodology is outlined in four steps: 

    1. automate administration and compliance
    2. create a great employee experience
    3. create workforce productivity
    4. drive growth and profitability

Subsequent chapters outline detailed plans surrounding each step. A model to assess your current standing in terms of successful POPS is also provided ranging from chaotic (lacking in most automation) to mastery (a best-in-class single digital platform). Current standing is determined by assessing the following metrics:

    • process consistency
    • digital automation
    • data & KPIs
    • employee experience
    • mobility
    • risks

Analysis of success (or lack thereof) in each area allows your organization to determine a jumping off point. For a free people operations maturity model assessment, click

Where is your organization in the progression of its business lifecycle? For those in the startup or growth phases, this guide can provide a rock-solid foundation in standardizing practices as you build your business. By leveraging technology to automate time consuming tasks such as data management, forms and workflows, and payroll services, new and growing businesses can see major gains in operational efficiency and competitive advantage.

Although digitization would be beneficial at any stage, organizations in their maturity or decline phase are less likely to find value here. I currently work in a traditional HR shop with a workforce that is blue-collar and near retirement. Modernization of this magnitude is viewed as a challenging and costly change in an environment where hands-on, person-to-person human resources has been the norm for decades. Above all, selling the idea to leadership is the ultimate key to success.

Traditional HR is a thing of the past. The transition to POPS by simplifying and modernizing HR practices frees up time for strategic thinking. It allows employees to see their success by achieving learning metrics in real time and by promoting collaboration across the organization. 

Data driven decision making creates a competitive advantage enabling businesses to thrive in today’s ever-changing world. Although there is no perfect formula for a business’s success, “If people are a company’s greatest asset and source of value, having a caretaker of that investment – a function to foster the growth and development of the workforce – is an imperative.”

People Operations provides a straight-forward guide to move small businesses on the path to success and I highly recommend you read it if you want to make the transition from traditional HR to POPS! 

KIG Zen Girl
Kuzneski Insurance Group wants to help you find the Zen in HR! The first 25 people to click here will receive a free copy of People Operations and exclusive pricing on Zenefits and other HR/POPS services!



ABOUT THE POPS AUTHORS:  The idea of PeopleOps was clearly explained by its authors: Jay Fulcher, Tracy Cote, and Kevin Marasco. Fulcher, Zenefits CEO, has a proven track record of streamlining HR processes for small- and medium-sized businesses by automating administrative and compliance work, allowing teams to become more agile. Cote, Former Chief People Officer at Zenefits, who has recently taken on the same role at StockX, is self-described as “relentlessly focused on improving the people experience.” Marasco, Chief Marketing Officer at Zenefits, is a passionate “accidental marketer” who assisted in pivoting Zenefits from an insurance broker to its current model, “bringing everything HR into one radically simple, single app."

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