While a single person might be able to operate all parts of the people function for a small organisation, large organisations are likely to need a bigger people team, including specialist roles in L&D and OD, as well as HR generalists. In a very large, complex organisation, there may be a central people team as well as divisional teams for specific business areas or locations. Large organisations with big people functions can often offer you the opportunity to move sideways to gain experience in different specialities as well as progressing to more senior positions.

How people functions can be structured in large organisations 

For an organisation of a significant size, a people function could include hundreds of individuals working in a wide range of generalist and specialist roles.

There is no one size fits all HR operating model. Structures vary considerably, because what works for one organisation may not work for another. 

Hear from a collection of thought leaders on the direction of the people profession.

Find out more

Typical responsibilities for people professionals in large organisations

In larger organisations, with bigger people functions, there are often multiple different roles for people professionals, including both specialist and generalist positions. What these roles look like will depend on the organisation's needs, varying from one organisation to the next.  

Typical responsibilities may include: 

  • Recruitment 
  • Reward and recognition 
  • Performance management  
  • People analytics and workforce reporting 
  • Detailed financial and payroll planning  
  • Health and safety  
  • Contracts and management of outsourced HR providers 
  • Strategic workforce planning 
  • Learning and development 
  • Talent management 
  • Consultation and support for line managers 
  • Employee engagement /experience 
  • Organisational design 

Sometimes these can be covered by a single role but, in very large organisations, there is often a whole team dedicated to certain specialisms. However, teams and individual roles may also cover more than one specialist area, such as resourcing and talent management which can often be combined. Likewise, you might also have accountability for employee experience within an organisational development and design role.


What’s it like to work as a people professional in a large organisation?

Read these real-life career stories.

Case studies
A day in the life of a HR Business Partner

A day in the life of Katie Landy, Senior HR Business Partner at the BBC

Case studies
A day in the life of an I&D specialist

A day in the life of Paul Deemer, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at NHS Employers

Case studies
A day in the life of an employee relations specialist

A day in the life of Sarah Telford, HR Case Manager within the Ministry of Justice Civil Service HR Casework team

Case studies
A day in the life of a reward analyst

A day in the life of Daniel Bailey, Reward Analyst at Arval BNP Paribas Group

Read more career stories

Find out more about working in the people profession in other types of organisation

The role of a people professional can look different in a smaller organisation and even more so if you work for yourself as an independent consultant.

Working as a people professional in a small organisation

Find out what HR responsibilities you could be asked to take on in a small organisation

Working as an independent people consultant

Find out what it's like to work for yourself or be an independent people consultant supporting other organisations with HR, L&D and OD projects.

Find out what a career in the people profession could offer you

Take control of your career

Why work in the people profession?

Explore the many rewards of working in the people profession

Career options in the people profession

Explore career areas within the people profession, and the typical activities you may find yourself doing

Career guidance

Information and guidance to help you excel in your role, transition into the profession, and manage a career break

Getting in to the people profession

If you’re looking for a career in HR, L&D or any other aspect of the people profession, there’s a route that’ll suit you

Explore all our careers support