Demystifying the HR Operating Model

We’re on a mission to demystify the HR operating model. 

Welcome to our latest obsession – we want to allow all HR professionals and CPOs to navigate the complex world of the HR operating model with ease. 

What is an HR op model? Why can’t we all use the same type? How do you know if your current set up isn’t fit for purpose? Watch the video below:

What do we mean by the HR operating model?

The HR operating model covers a wide area; it includes how you are set up structurally, your policies and processes and ways of working.

It includes your core functional capabilities, your service offering and the employee experience you offer, including the systems and tools used across the employee lifecycle. It’s a broad concept, but what is most important is how those elements fit together to deliver the people outcomes you are looking to achieve.

Cathy Acratopulo, Managing Director and Founder of LACE Partners

Why does HR need its operating model demystified? 

There is a lot of conflicting advice in this space. Our aim is to cut through the noise and provide you with a way of evaluating what you have right now and what you will need in the future.

There is no one-size-fits all, but we can help you figure out which HR operating model will serve you best according to your business goals.

Follow this series to learn:


  • Why the HR operating model is so relevant in this current climate
  • The nuances of different HR op models
  • What the symptoms are of a model that is not fit for purpose
  • How to align your future HR op model with your business drivers
  • When you know what you want, how to make that change stick and the skills and capabilities you need to make it happen!

HR functions have all the pieces, but they are still jumbled up.

Internet services, Group HR Director

This campaign will look at the nuances of existing common operating models, provide a fresh perspective with a focus on aligning HR through the lens of the business. 

Start your journey with the reading below:

Demystifying the HR operating model - an introduction

Prologue: Demystifying the HR operating model

Watch this LIVE podcast on the need to demystify the operating model:

HR on the Offensive LIVE
HR on the Offensive LIVE

Do you need to demystify the HR operating model?

We’ll be breaking down the campaign into chapters that are outlined below:

01. From HR to workforce transformation

Introducing one of our latest pieces of research, ‘CPOs: From HR to workforce transformation’.
Julian, Alice and Ellie from LACE interviewed 30 business leaders and transformation specialists to get a snapshot of the market, and it sets the scene as to why HR functions need to be the drivers of organisational change.

You may be wondering: Why should the CPO and HR function be at the forefront of a business’s transformation? What critical role does HR play? What have HR experts identified as their biggest challenges in workforce transformation? This chapter will give you that insight.

Watch this live stream, where Chris Howard and Emma Leonis-Hughes talk through the latest trends in the HR shared services space, and introduce our Trends report:

HR on the Offensive LIVE
HR on the Offensive LIVE

HR Shared Services Trends 2024 Report

Take a look at our free ‘CPOs: From HR to workforce transformation‘ whitepaper for insights on aligning people strategy to business objectives and much more:

‘CPOs: From HR to workforce transformation’ whitepaper

five steps to successful Ex whitepaper - employee experience revolution

How can HR support workforce transformation? Watch the discussion between LACEr Julian Holmes and Toby Culshaw, Talent leader at Amazon:

Reflections on workforce transformation

Reflections on workforce transformation

02. Cracking the code: Unlocking key HR operating model challenges

This chapter will laser in on those challenges that CPOs and peers have told us, drawing insights from real-world experiences from HR teams – if you want first hand experiences to see whether your challenges are similar to those of your peers, you’ll find it here.

You may be wondering: Why are current operating models not delivering on what the CPO and modern HR team need? What are the limitations that HR is seeing with what’s currently out there?

Read now:

Demystifying the HR operating model - cracking the code

Unlocking the key HR op model challenges

Download our latest HR Shared Services Trends report, which outlines 2024 key trends including AI, service delivery technology and function capability.

HR Shared Services Trends 2024 report

HR shared services trends 2024 Report

Listen to this podcast, where the authors of the report, Emma Leonis-Hughes and Dawn Goodall as well as guest Nadia Hutchinson, Global Director HR Services and Operation from the Cabot Corporation chat through the evolving landscape of HR shared services:

HR shared services report - a discussion

What do HR Shared Services look like for 2024?

03. Navigating the noise and untangling the HR operating model puzzle

It’s time to figure out what HR operating model is right for you. This chapter gives you an overview of the existing operating models being adopted by HR functions across all industry sectors and sizes.

You may be wondering: How diverse are HR operating models? What are the pros and cons of each? Is there a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that aligns to business drivers?

This chapter will provide those answers, as well as providing a LACE archetype that you can apply to your business. We’ll also give you access to our latest HR Shared Services Trends report, so you can see what HRSS professionals see as their biggest challenges and opportunities in 2024.

CPOs and their 4 hats

1. The four hats of the CPO

HR on the Offensive LIVE
HR on the Offensive LIVE

What are the four hats CPOs should be wearing?

10 traits of high performance

2. The ten traits of high performance

04. Building an HR operating model that is a business booster

Now we’re getting in to the implications of adopting an HR operating model which will drive business value. We are confident that when push comes to shove, you can reduce your main business goal down to one of four drivers.

You may be wondering: Are you on a quest for growth? Agility? CX? Productivity? You’ll get four separate scenarios that each have their own challenges, featuring examples from CPOs who have navigated those challenges and how they overcame them.

If you’re searching for practical examples that you can reference for your own business, here is where you need to look.

Whether you are on a quest for agility, customer intimacy, growth or productivity, learn how to optimise the HR function to support your chosen business driver in these resources:

Reflections on workforce transformation

How to build the right HR operating model

HR on the Offensive LIVE
HR on the Offensive LIVE

How to build the right op model for your business

How to build your HR operating model and challenges

How to build the right op model for your business

or explore each business driver here:


Customer intimacy

Rapid growth


05. Making change stick

You’ve decided that your operating model needs to change, you’ve reviewed what other experiences HR functions have had and you’ve embedded a new approach to your business – now what?

Now it’s time to make sure that change delivers the objectives you’ve set out. There is no point in going through all of this work without being able to demonstrate that what you’ve done aligns to the needs of your business, so in this chapter we’ll be sharing strategies from our expert change management team for successfully implementing changes.

You may be wondering: How are you going to ensure you have enough agility to deal with the transformation process? What are the skills and capabilities you will need to ensure that the change is sustainable? How do you move the mindset from reactionary to proactive? We’ll help you in this chapter.

06. Unveiling success: client stories and key insights

If you’re looking for full case study examples of successful transformations and new HR operating models, here is where you’ll find it.
In this chapter we’ll give answers and lessons learned from those HR functions who have ‘been there, done that’ with their transformation programme.

We’ll outline the importance of establishing the right governance and ownership of the process in the HR operating model and provide you with some key takeaways that you can use when embarking on your journey to changing your operating model and making it a success.

Finally, we’ll wrap up our thoughts by providing you with a comprehensive guide that emphasises the importance of informed decision-making in shaping your HR operating model.

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