At VaynerMedia, you won’t find a “Head of HR” or even a “Director of People.” The “social-first digital shop” founded in 2009 in New York City has recently appointed Claude Silver as their “Chief Heart Officer.” VaynerMedia’s CEO, Gary Vaynerchuk, believes that it’s possible to build an organization worth billions of dollars in a “nice way.” This philosophy drove the creation of Silver’s position. She says this “honey over vinegar” philosophy works “only when you treat every individual as a beating heart. Not an asset, not a commodity, not a good.” In her Medium article explaining this title change, it’s clear that Silver is passionate about her role and how her title encompasses what she does day to day.
Treat every individual as a beating heart. Not an asset, not a commodity, not a good.
Human Resources innovators across the world are poised to make important decisions that affect the culture of their companies. Some of this change is seen in unique HR titles like Silver’s and in the subtle shift favoring the term “People Operations” over Human Resources. Changes in the lexicon of HR reflect bigger changes in how these departments are viewed internally and externally.
Shifts in how HR departments have branded themselves date all the way back to the early 90’s when Southwest Airlines showed early adoption for their own internal name change. In a 1995 interview with Workforce, Elizabeth Pedrick Sartain, then VP of People, explains how the personnel department wanted to better mirror the fun-loving culture of Southwest. The newly named “People Department” while initially laughed at by Southwest employees, eventually stuck. Sartain shared, “[Our employees] aren’t just resources. They’re real people. Since then, I’ve been shocked by how many other companies have changed their [human resources department] names. We didn’t realize we were setting a trend. We were just doing something that fit into our culture.”
Our employees aren’t just resources. They’re real people. - Southwest Airlines
Human Resources roles are complex and encompass many responsibilities, ranging across employee recognition, relations, benefits, training, compliance, comp, and talent management/recruiting (somehow all squeezed into a day’s work!). It’s no wonder that companies and individuals are exploring new, more accurate and exciting ways of branding their role and contributions.
At Culture Amp, we interviewed five people with unique HR titles to understand why they instigated change and the role these individuals played in ultimately selecting and setting their new titles. You’ll get to meet a Mood Coordinator, Experience Coordinator, Chief Happiness Officer, Culture Evangelist, and People Operations Manager all from innovative tech companies across the United States. Visit peoplegeeks.com to read the full interviews.
Written with love by Lexi Croswell, Content Marketing at Culture Amp.