What is 'people management' and why is it important?

Mon 12 Sep 2022

People management is a core responsibility of HR professionals and involves recruiting, training, engaging and retaining employees to grow their talent and improve their productivity. 

However, it is much more than simply completing a series of standardised processes to satisfy a tick-box exercise. People management, in reality, is about ensuring employees have the resources and workplace culture they need for their wellbeing and overall job satisfaction. 

This can mean that HR professionals have to take unique approaches to each employee to help them overcome challenges, feel comfortable moving forward, and address issues from outside the workplace that may be impacting their performance. 

People management, at its heart, is about caring for the employees and understanding how their individual needs can be supported by the business. 

People management vs management and leadership

When the term “management” is used in a business setting, most people will automatically think about traditional management and leadership roles such as:

  • Line manager
  • CEO
  • Managing Director

While people management skills  can certainly help individuals in these roles, some key factors distinguish performance-based management and leadership from people management. 

Management and leadership roles are focused on overseeing and improving the performance of a group of employees or a wider subset of the business. This involves setting performance-based goals, analysing performance data, managing resources, and delegating work as needed to direct reports. 

As stated earlier, people management focuses on addressing the wellbeing and needs of individual employees - which affects performance but is not the main metric of success for people managers. 

People management will often be the responsibility of those in HR with job titles such as:

  • Human Resources Manager/Executive
  • Recruiter
  • Employee Wellbeing Officer

Why do businesses need people management?

Employee engagement

Feeling part of something bigger and pulling in the same direction contributes to organisational success. A colleague who feels engaged is not only more productive, but they’re also more driven to help the business succeed. They’ll see the bigger picture and be a proactive member of their team.
Higher workplace morale and engagement are better not only for productivity but for employee retention and recruitment in the future. 


The success of any organisation is built on people. People managers play an integral role in the recruitment process and in finding the right people to take a business forward – based, not only on the skills of a candidate but on how their characteristics and personality will work with others in the organisation.

Conflict resolution 

Conflict is inevitable within organisations of any size, with many employers and managers unclear on how to deal with it. People managers have a key role in conflict resolution and often act as the mediator between people or departments as they have a deeper understanding of each individual’s needs and concerns. 

Manage mental health

While CIPD research shows that many organisations have stepped up their efforts to support mental health in the workplace over the last few years, mental health is still the top cause of long-term absence from work. 

Mental health-related absences have historically cost the UK economy up to £14 billion and stagnated the productivity of 76% of workers.

People management helps organisations implement processes and practices to support employee mental health – ultimately reducing absenteeism and improving productivity. 

Communicate needs across organisational levels

Often it can be difficult for those in senior management and leadership positions to truly understand the needs of those in entry-level and junior positions. People management professionals help to bridge that gap and communicate complex needs throughout the business in a way that each level can appreciate due to the knowledge they have of each individual’s needs. 

Our CIPD courses are designed by people management specialists and help you develop your expertise and achieve your professional qualification; giving you the confidence to showcase your knowledge, improve your performance and make a real difference in your workplace.

Register your interest or call one of our Qualifications advisors on 03452 032 103 for more information.

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