The chief human resources officer is an integral part of strategic operations. Find out if your business would benefit from having someone in this role.
Here's what you need to know:
- Most companies have a chief financial officer and a chief operations officer — but for too many companies, HR is not part of the equation
- To optimize performance, a chief human resources officer needs to be involved in every level of corporate assessment and planning
- A CHRO works with each aspect of the HR team to optimize efforts to acquire, retain, upskill, and develop talent
- They oversee organizational compliance to shield the company from risk, and promote the mission, culture, and business as they advocate for talent
- The CHRO is in charge of employee experience: a proven driver of a successful organization
For many organizations the time may be long overdue for Human Resources, People Operations, or Human Capital (whatever it’s called at your company) to have a seat at the table. Many companies have a president who doubles as Chief Executive Officer or CEO, some are separate functions.
Most companies have a chief financial officer (CFO) and a chief operations officer (COO). Newest to the C-suite is the chief information or chief technology officer (CIO/CTO). But for too many companies, HR is not part of the equation.
Since none of these other functions can produce without people, why isn’t CHRO a role in every organization? The C-suite analyzes past results, assesses current market and production performance, and plans and forecasts for the future.
Which of these areas doesn’t involve talent? The CHRO is an integral part of strategic operations. To optimize performance they need to be involved in every level of corporate assessment and planning.
C-suite and the CHRO: What are their responsibilities?
A CHRO can wear many hats or be responsible for those who do. They work with each aspect of the HR team to optimize efforts to acquire, retain, upskill, and develop talent.
They oversee organizational compliance to shield the company from risk. Additionally, they promote the mission, culture, and business as they advocate for talent.
Once considered a cost center, People Operations are finally being recognized as a critical component to success. Here are some of the ways they inform and enhance strategic planning compared to their current C-suite counterparts.
The CEO is charged with overseeing every aspect of the business. They lead the management team to develop and maintain the organization’s vision, culture, and success. They forecast and plan for the future.
The CHRO executes these organizational goals. They work with all levels of leadership to acquire, train, and maintain staffing levels that drive performance.
The CHRO establishes and monitors culture, diversity initiatives, and employee experience goals. They ensure performance with the talent necessary to achieve — both present and future.
The chief financial officer manages the company’s assets, including cash and real holdings. They review and analyze financial data, report on performance, prepare budgets, monitor costs and expenditures, and forecast for the future.
The CHRO manages existing talent budget lines and forecasts what changes the future will hold. They adjust recruitment, training, and upskilling strategies as needed to maintain headcount and productivity.
The CHRO oversees talent retention, focusing on employee experience, learning and development, and succession planning to reduce attrition.
The CHRO oversees talent retention, focusing on employee experience, learning and development, and succession planning to reduce attrition. They plan for whatever mix of talent is needed for success: full- or part-time, temporary or contract workers.
The CHRO sources and administers benefits packages, a significant line item for any business. Including retirement planning accounts, FSAs, healthcare, and other perks, the CHRO is responsible for substantial cost analysis and maintenance for every organization.
The chief operating officer oversees performance, frequently of the entire organization. They may be responsible for production, research and development, sales, and marketing. The COO may be charged with developing and maintaining the company’s culture and DEI initiatives.
Operations are dependent on talent. The CHRO aligns the needs of the business with the talent required to achieve.
Hiring, retention, and training are ongoing functions that keep operations moving forward in each department. The CHRO drives inclusion and diversity initiatives with sourcing, hiring, and internal mobility programming. They source talent that holds the potential to drive innovation and growth.
CTO — CIO/CHRO
The chief technology (or information) officer is responsible for all the operation’s technology needs: from hardware; software; and automation; to data collection and analysis. They also work to mitigate risk of incursions, ransomware, and other online threats.
The CHRO assesses technology to optimize performance at the front-line. They oversee training and recommend upgrades and improvements that drive productivity and growth.
They mine data to assess performance, forecast attrition, and develop retention, upskilling, and succession plans. The CHRO looks for opportunities to outsource rote tasks to increase productivity at all levels. They oversee technology needs of remote talent to ensure performance.
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What are additional chief officer positions in companies?
Organizations recognize the common C-suite positions, but new trends are adding more input to the mix. These also depend on People Operations to achieve departmental and organizational goals.
Chief compliance officers oversee legal and regulatory compliance. These can include statutory requirements, like SEC rules or compliance with federal, state, and local OSHA regulations. They may also include environmental, business enterprise, subcontractor, and employment law adherence.
The CHRO integrates the compliance policies set by the CCO at the ground level. They create, communicate, and administer regulations independently or through leadership training and oversight.
The CHRO develops or outsources necessary training to ensure compliance, safety, and well-being of the workforce, as well as mitigating risk to the business.
A new addition to the C-suite is the chief security officer. These professionals are charged with maintaining safety in physical and virtual environments.
They may direct OSHA protocols, COVID and other infectious disease mitigation, and strategies to protect lone or small-team workers at customer-facing locations.
The CHRO works with security professionals at all levels: communicating, training, and upskilling new hires and existing staff on current and emerging safety protocols.
In the event of an accident or injury, they work with staff to access necessary health, short- or long-term disability, or necessary leave and/or accommodation benefits.
Chief sustainability officers are emerging members of the C-suite, charged with a variety of tasks. Some include environmental sustainability initiatives, from green manufacturing to long-range planning, that minimizes the company’s impact on climate.
They may also work beyond environmental issues to ensure the organization’s culture and vision align with corporate social responsibility goals.
The CHRO works with this cohort to ensure employees are executing environmental initiatives holistically — from the smallest reminders to turn off lights and recycle, to the largest procedures that minimize waste.
In addition to training staff to adhere to protocols, they promote corporate social responsibility through training, employee volunteerism, and other support mechanisms.
Every aspect of a company is dependent on people. To turn goals and visions into reality, People Operations takes the lead. Nothing moves forward without the talent needed to build it or provide it. Few budget items cost more than payroll; even fewer offer the prospect of growth.
Alongside the potential for success, talent poses the risk of exposure: to accidents and injuries as well as complaints, charges, and lawsuits. A CHRO integrates the contribution talent makes to business success, and guards the organization from risk.
What are additional benefits of having a CHRO?
For companies looking to build their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, a recent report showed 78% new CHROs hired in 2019 were female. As the glass ceiling continues to give way to more diverse leadership, these HR professionals are enjoying opportunities previously unattainable.
Company dependence on skilled workers has never been so pronounced as it is in today’s challenging market. When skilled talent doesn’t appear to be available, HR reevaluates job retirements and adjusts.
When qualified applicants aren’t overwhelming recruiters, they look for new ways to source talent; or ways to upskill the talent available. They work to retain skilled, experienced workers with necessary and appealing benefits, and create learning and development opportunities.
The CHRO is in charge of employee experience: a proven driver of a successful organization.
The CHRO has the pulse on talent in their market, today and into the future. Every aspect of the business and each leadership position is critically dependent on talent acquisition and management.
Adding a CHRO in any organization guarantees a collaboration to understand where the company is currently; plan for where it intends to grow; and execute the steps necessary to get there.