The size of the organisation will influence your type of role. We explore what this means for people professionals, and the different sectors you might find yourself working in.

Organisation size matters

The size of the organisation will likely influence whether you occupy a generalist or specialist role. In smaller organisations, you may perform a variety of activities as an HR generalist in a stand‐alone capacity. In larger organisations, the greater volume of people roles might typically include both specialist and generalist positions.

What these roles look like will depend on the organisation's needs, varying from one organisation to the next. Roles may cover more than one specialist area, such as resourcing and talent management specialisms, which are often combined into one role. Likewise, you might also have accountability for employee experience within an organisational development and design role.

Types of sectors

One of the great things about working in the people profession is that it enables you to work in any sector. Here’s a little bit more about the different sectors you could work in.

The public sector

The public sector is classed as any organisation which is run by a government; this can include central or local government organisations, healthcare, schools and emergency services.

You’ll find a variety of organisations both in size and type within this sector, all sharing the aim of providing services for public interest.

Given their size, most of these organisations will have people functions, with the larger ones boasting a significant variety of generalist and specialist people roles.

The private sector

Private sector organisations are run by individuals or companies for profit and come in all shapes and sizes:

  • Sole proprietorships: Individuals working on their own (for example, plumbers and designers)
  • Partnerships: Where two or more people own the organisation
  • SMEs: Small to medium-sized enterprises, typically with 250 employees or less
  • Large multinationals: Generally, large organisations producing and selling goods in various countries.

People functions may exist in partnerships, SMEs and large multinational organisations, with the size and breadth of these increasing with the number of employees.

The third sector

The not-for-profit or voluntary sector operates in the space between government and private organisations, and is typically defined by these features:

  • Values-driven - motivated by social goals rather than profit
  • Reinvesting surplus profit into the pursuit of organisational goals
  • Independence from the government.

The number of employees within these organisations will determine the size, type and variety of its people functions. A smaller organisation with fewer than 50 employees could, for example, consist of one stand-alone people role, whereas an organisation employing thousands will likely have a larger people function with a variety of different roles.

Types of structures in people functions

When an organisation gets to a certain size or complexity, there will be a need to have a people function. A people function can comprise of just one person working in a stand-alone role as a HR generalist, or for an organisation of a significant size, could comprise of over 200 individuals in the people function working in a range of generalist and specialist roles.

Every people function structure needs to be aligned to organisation needs, so one structure may look very different from another. The below diagram illustrates how a HR structure in a small organisation could look in comparison to a larger organisation.

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