Charles Brecque

Charles Brecque


July 23, 2023

When Does Your Startup Need a Head of People?

This article provides ten scenarios of when you need to hire a Heads of People to manage staff as well as outlining the risks of not having HR in place.

When Does Your Startup Need a Head of People?

As your startup is growing, you may need to start considering hiring a Head of People to help your team perform at their very best. 

However, it can be tricky to know when the time is right to take the plunge. 

In this article, we’ll cover some of the things to think about when you’re trying to make a decision, including:

  • What a Head of People is, and the benefits of hiring one 
  • Ten situations indicating that your startup might already need a Head of People
  • The risks of not hiring a Head of People.

We know you’re busy, so let's get straight to it! 

The Benefits of Hiring a Head of People: How It Can Pay Off for Your Business 

A Head of People is essentially the modern rebranding of a human resources (HR) director. 

While an HR director is typically reactive, a Head of People plays a more proactive role in the organisation and aims to make the workplace better for the employees.

Given that distinction, it’s readily obvious what the main benefit of hiring a Head of People is. 

To expand on this, here are several other upsides that come with having a competent Head of People in your startup.

A Head of People:

  • Improves and maintains employee-leadership relations
  • Acts as a role model for the organisation
  • Takes hiring and training pressure off of management
  • Drives the team to hit organisational targets and goals.

When Does Your Startup Need a Head of People?

You might already know the value of having a Head of People, but you’re not quite sure when the right time to hire one is. 

Here are 10 situations that call for a Head of People to join your team:

1. When Your Startup Is Growing Rapidly and Needs to Scale

It’s essential to have a Head of People on board if you’re expanding. 


Mass hiring is inherently rewarding – but it’s also difficult to navigate, so you’ll want someone with the expertise to streamline the process. 

This way, you can delegate some of your tasks to the Head of People and focus instead on other business matters.

2. When You Want to Establish Consistent HR Policies and Procedures

Heads of people also work to set up (or update) HR policies, and it’s their job to be in the know about current popular models and frameworks. 

Having a consistent and modern HR procedure is key to maintaining employee happiness and avoiding legal pitfalls in a growing business. 

3. When Employee Relations and Compliance Issues Become More Complex

If you’ve been struggling with employee relations, it’s time to hire a Head of People ASAP!

They will work alongside you to foster better understanding and communication and take proactive steps to improve company policies so that compliance becomes second nature.

As your company expands, even the most familial workforce is going to run into complex issues. These can be difficult waters for management to navigate, even with the help of an HR team. 

A Head of People will work as a middleman, ensuring the resolution of the existing issues and putting measures in place to minimise the risk of these issues recurring.

4. When You’re Struggling to Retain Top Talent or Experiencing High Turnover

In this competitive market, high turnover is a real problem – especially with the growing culture of job hopping. 

Having a Head of People will help immensely to keep your high-performing staff happy so that they stay and grow with your business.

5. When You Want to Plan Strategically for Workforce Development and Talent Management

Heads of people develop and carry out training programs and work to help all your employees realise their full potential. 

If you’ve been struggling in this area or watching talented employees consistently underperform, it’s time to bring a Head of People on board. 

6. When You Want to Build a Strong Company Culture and Employer Brand

Having a strong brand and culture also helps with employee retention and consistent growth. 

Heads of People are champions who cement the ideals and traditions of your workforce and rally everyone to share common goals and interests.

Your Head of People can also work with you to bring your brand to life. They bring knowledge and experience that’ll enable them to formulate, implement, and reinforce your startup’s identity. 

7. When You’re Ready to Implement Performance Management Systems and Initiatives

If you have some great ideas brewing but aren’t so sure how to implement them most effectively, get someone to do it for you! 

Heads of people work at all levels to roll out new initiatives and performance schemes, and having a middleman in the process means employees are more involved. This increases the new system’s chances of success in the long run.

8. When You’re Expanding into New Markets or Regions

A Head of People can help ease the transition into a new market, and they’re absolutely essential personnel for any expansion. 

They’ll assist with hiring new staff from a potentially different pool, as well as training existing ones to smoothly process this change. 

9. When You’re Preparing for a Merger, Acquisition, or IPO

Mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs are even bigger transitions than breaking into a new market, making a Head of People that much more useful. 

These upheavals can put company culture at risk, so you’ll want someone to make the most of the morale boost that comes with these changes as well. 

10. When You’re Facing Legal or Regulatory Challenges Related to HR Practices

While your existing HR staff is likely equipped to handle any legal issue thrown at you, a Head of People helps to actually manage these issues among the staff. 

This means that the fallout from any challenge is minimised and the chances of recurrence are much lower. 

The Risks of Not Hiring a Head of People Sooner than Later

A Head of People is essentially an on-team crisis manager, so you’ll really want to have one at your side. If you wait too long, you could be facing high turnover rates, poor initiative compliance, and low staff morale that’ll prove detrimental to your business.

You need a management employee liaison to implement ongoing training programs, tackle HR issues, and evaluate and improve performance frameworks – all of which are necessary for your startup to see real growth! 

So if you want to firmly establish your business and be ready for continuous expansion, hiring a Head of People as soon as you can is the right choice to make. 

Key Takeaways

A Head of People helps your business in numerous ways and is a key player on your management team. 

Having one helps you and your staff in terms of happiness, growth, and performance while avoiding potential pitfalls — leading directly to greater profit!

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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