Still don’t have a Chief People Officer? Here’s why you need to hire one now.
Company founders have a lot on their plates. From securing funding to marketing the brand, and overseeing the production of innovative products and services, it can be easy to focus on day-to-day operations and long-term planning without thinking much about People Operations or hiring a Chief People Officer.
Especially when the team is still small and mighty, many founders leave people-related tasks to managers or handle HR needs themselves. And this may work — for a while. But as your company scales and your team along with it, you stand to benefit immensely from bringing on a Chief People Officer. Here’s why.
1. CPOs support your greatest asset — your people
We don’t flinch at the need to hire a CFO, CMO, or CTO, people whose jobs are to streamline, maximize, and support their prospective departments. So why can it be so easy to let People Operations take a back seat?
Much of this is rooted in the history of human resources as an administrative function. Formerly referred to as personnel, HR was considered well-functioning as long as the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed on the appropriate tax forms and compliance checklists.
While we know today that it’s people who power companies, and therefore need just as much leadership, strategy, and support as any other company resource (if not more!), it can be easy to prioritize other needs in the fast-moving world of early-stage and fast-growing companies.
A CPO focuses inward, so founders and CEOs can continue to focus outward.
A CPO will focus inward, so founders and CEOs can continue to focus outward on building products and services that meet the needs of the market. At a high level, your new Chief People Officer will:
- Create talent strategy
- Be the change leader
- Drive culture and purpose
- Serve as a trusted advisor and coach
- Act as a business partner to the rest of the C-Suite
2. Create structure in people-related processes
In the free-wheeling world of early-stage companies, structure can remain elusive. And that’s necessary at first, as young companies need the agility to pivot quickly and remain nimble. But with growth and maturation comes the need for systems in all avenues of the business, People Operations included.
A CPO will help create structure within People Operations by:
- Formalizing positions, current, and future
- Developing a robust onboarding process
- Creating and optimizing performance management processes
- Scouting the right technology to power People Ops
3. Maximize your employer brand
In today’s tight labor market, appealing to top talent is harder than ever. CPOs will support your company in acquiring the right talent for the job by building and bolstering your employer brand.
Employer brand is a snapshot of company culture, which reflects the missions, values, and vibe of your organization. Chief People Officers support the employer brand by shaping company values and creating initiatives to embody such values.
4. Boost employee engagement and retainment
Getting the right people in the door is only half the battle. Once you’ve hired the right people for open roles within your organization, you have to keep them — a feat proving harder than ever in today’s period of high employee turnover, dubbed the Great Resignation.
In 2021, we saw an all-time-high of people leaving their jobs voluntarily.
In 2021, 4 million Americans left their job voluntarily in April, an all-time-high, only to have records broken again in August, September, and November, when 4.5 million Americans said sayonara to their positions.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to retaining talent, focusing on the holistic employee experience and working to boost engagement are smart places to start. CPOs will take a bird’s-eye view of how employees are experiencing employment within the workplace and then work cross-functionally to improve it.
Your CPO will work to improve retention with strategies like:
- Employee engagement initiatives
- Reviewing compensation and benefits practices
- Learning and development opportunities
- Career pathing
5. Oversee the various functions and departments of HR
While it’s feasible for HR and People Operations tasks to be shared amongst team members when your company is small, this phase is unlikely to last for long. As you scale, you’ll need a point person to oversee the various functions and departments of human resources-related tasks. A CPO ensures the people in charge of these functions have what they need to function well within People Operations but also across the organization.
Your new CPO will ensure cohesion between:
- Learning and development
- Talent acquisition
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion
What to look for in a Chief People Officer
As head of the human capital at your company, your CPO must have wide-reaching knowledge and experience. Since they’ll be not only responsible for overseeing HR-related functions but partnering across the company, look for someone who has:
- Deep HR expertise
- High EQ (emotional quotient) and strong interpersonal skills
- Good business acumen
- Adaptive leadership skills
A CPO will ensure your team is cared for and considered as long-term investments.
As a company founder, there’s a lot to navigate. But ensuring your human capital is thoughtfully considered and cared for is an investment sure to pay long-term dividends. A Chief People Officer will build and manage the strategy for attracting and retaining talent while acting as a trusted advisor and consultant for the rest of the executive team. They’ll work across the company to get a pulse on the employee experience and design strategies to boost employee engagement.
After all, it’s not businesses that create value but people, and investing in your people will help to lead to the profitability that all businesses seek.
Bring on a Chief People Officer to on your human capital the way you would any other company resource