4 March, 2022
The changing role of CHROs in the brave new world of work
With the news of Leena Nair, CHRO- Unilever, becoming the global CEO of the French luxury brand Chanel, a wave of jubilation ran across the Indian HR fraternity. Have HR leaders finally gained recognition as business leaders critical to organizational strategy? The research points to this truth being known for some time now. Consider the study by Korn Ferry, an executive placement firm responsible for hiring global CHROs, conducted in 2014. It clearly states that apart from COOs, the leadership traits of CHROs match those of CEOs most closely. The rise of Mary Barra from VP-HR to CEO of General Motors, and more recently, Dr Alka Mittal, Director- HR, ONGC taking additional charge as CMD of ONGC stand testament to this finding. But why is there a renewed focus on the importance of CHROs in the C-suite? The answer lies in challenging additions to their responsibilities in the post-pandemic world.
Given that the world was plunged in a primarily human crisis in 2020, CHROs naturally emerged as stewards of organizational change and resilience- a set of actions that determined whether businesses recovered or sank. They influenced business outcomes through:
1. Reaffirming or reframing an organization’s mission statement keeping people strategy at the core
2. Helping the C-suite align with and sponsor changing talent requirements
3. Creating an engaging employee experience and customer experience while fulfilling business goals
4. Measuring results and quickly iterating to improve them
In other words, CHROs, with their experience in human capital development were able to leverage an organization’s greatest asset to push through uncertainty. As Tanuj Kapilashrami, group head of HR at Standard Chartered bank put it- “The financial crisis of 2008 relied on CFOs to help their companies. But the companies that will come out stronger from  will be those that have a strong HR function.”
The Way Ahead
Organizations now require a high-level of emotional intelligence in leadership as well as close collaboration at all levels to solve novel problems, both of which are key HR skills. Besides, given the volatility in the talent economy, the importance of an organization’s purpose, work culture and brand identity have never been more important. CHROs therefore can no longer remain behind-the-scenes or restricted to talent management. They need to be well-versed with business priorities and measure HR outcomes in terms of revenue, margins and brand equity.
The creation of a measurably inclusive and appreciative work culture remains a top priority for CHROs to facilitate better employee retention. A digital reward and recognition program can greatly support this new mandate for the CHRO through:
1. Instant recognition for a broad range of actions using a custom r&r framework
2. Org-wide connect through social walls, announcements, pop quizzes, pulse surveys and other such engagement features
3. Complete visibility into engagement outcomes including employee sentiment, recognition trends, performance scorecards, benefits redemption and more through a people analytics module
HR leaders are at the cusp of change given their need to have a strategic, measurable contribution to business outcomes. As Diane Gherson, ex-CHRO, IBM sums it up- “It’s important for CHROs to get out in front of processes and get into the world of outcomes and particularly experiences that they’re creating — and that means reinventing pretty much everything they do.”
Connect with us to understand the capabilities of our digital R&R platform in supporting today’s CHROs!