“In the past, at big company moments, it was often the CEO and CFO breaking the news to employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders. A distinctive feature of the coronavirus pandemic has been to elevate the role of the CHRO, who is often visibly helping CEOs manage the present and lead their companies into the future.”
- Arianna Huffington in How CHROs Have Met the Moment
In times of crisis, businesses face setbacks of varying degrees. Facing the repercussions requires the experience and insight of leaders, working together. The interesting crisis that resulted out of the Covid-19 pandemic was how it distinctly became a people issue, directly affecting the people and their health - like a finger poking straight at the wound. And as such, the pandemic instantly elevated the role and the importance of the CHRO.
As a C-suite employee, the CHRO has always been an essential part of management. They are responsible for leading critical elements of the organization towards its success, such as talent management, succession planning, performance management, training and development, and company culture.
However, ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, CHROs have been at the center of some very difficult decisions and conversations. Atop the lay-offs, furloughs, and frozen raises, they have also struggled with major challenges such as meeting the needs of the workforce, maintaining employee morale, and managing stress during this difficult period.
The silver lining among it all, The elevation of the CHRO role has enabled them to bring human-centricity into the spotlight, thus highlighting the importance of it and assisting in the development of a resilient organizational culture.
The growth of the CEO - CHRO relationship
The elevation of the CHRO isn’t a momentary phenomenon. It will outlast Covid-19 and change the way we work - for the better. The pandemic has quickly proven a crucial point that many progressive CHROs were already thinking of before anyone even heard of the coronavirus: That organizational resilience - the ability of a culture to adapt, innovate, and succeed - is inextricably linked to employees’ individual physical, mental, and emotional resilience.
Therefore, CEOs are leaning on CHROs to ensure that their workforces feel supported, because they have grown aware of the fact that the future success - and in many cases, the survival - of their business depends on it. As a result, the CHRO is called upon as a trusted advisor to assist the CEO in reevaluating the executive team's effectiveness, both during the pandemic and moving forward.
We’ve been talking about putting people first, encouraging flexible working, and imbibing purpose in the way we work for quite a long time, but these are no longer fanciful notions. CHROs finally have the opportunity to bring these causes from the periphery to the center. The corporate agenda isn’t solely to get the organization through the pandemic, but also to ensure that they merge from it with a stronger, more inclusive, compassionate, and resilient culture.
CHROs have the power and influence to drive change and make a meaningful impact in the new world of work, especially in areas that may not have been prioritized before.
CEOs are looking for CHROs to develop the strategic steps that will be critical in driving the human capital strategy. Let’s take a look at how CHROs can make an impact.
4 ways CHROs can make an impact
1. Managing new models of work in the modern workplace
The modern workplace looks different from what it was in the past. Many employees aren’t ready to return to working full-time in the office and have embraced the remote or hybrid way of working. The matter of recruitment has also raised concerned queries - how will candidates be interviewed? Will companies recruit individuals off-site and grant 100% remote work? What will be the best onboarding practices to integrate new employee working remotely? These modern workplace concerns will fall under the purview of the CHRO and their HR team.
2. Strategic decision making through people analytics
People analytics is the new buzzword in the HR field. Analytics is seeping into every department of the organisation, with HR being not too far behind. Companies define their competitive edge by deriving insights for data to make powerful strategies. But while there is a growing understanding of the importance of analytics, only 15% of companies believe that their HR teams are strong in the area. Data and analytics provides the answers on how companies can be better and strategically managed. And CHROs are going to be the catalysts in analytics-based decision making.
CHROs will need to use data-driven insights to build the modern work environment and retain people. These insights can help make talent management strategies more effective by knowing when to hire, whom to hire, and what practices to implement to retain the best talent.
3. Creating a workplace culture agenda
A compensation package often triumphs as a major factor for employee retention. But the world of work is changing with a new composition of the workforce, innumerable technological solutions, and a scarcity of good talent. Such being the case, workplace culture has become the essential factor to determine the longevity and growth of companies.
CHROs are the driving forces behind the much-needed changes that existing cultures require. Their expertise in assisting a company in creating a culturally positive workplace is unquestionable. CHROs can assist organizations in recognising the importance of diversity and inclusion. The emergence of a global political environment has heightened employee sensitivity to diversity and inclusion.
The CHRO can assist in the facilitation of an active DE&I strategy at the company, ensuring diversity in hiring and assisting in the creation of an inclusive culture. If one does not already exist, the CHRO can play an important role in developing a code of conduct that outlines acceptable employee behaviours and norms and details the company's mission and values. This critical document should also include the company's position on DE&I.
4. Creating a modern, agile organizational structure
Outdated and outmoded organizational models can no longer carry out the functions of the modern workplace. Companies need to adopt an agile approach to survive the competition, and CHROs have to be at the helm to steer such initiatives. By choosing the right strategies and technologies to design workable workplace models, they can improve hiring and retention practices, adjust in real time, and be dynamic in their approach.