In any organization, there are many individuals with seats at the proverbial leadership table. After all, the complexities of managing a business compel CEOs to assemble a team of diverse perspectives and expertise to help guide the organization’s strategic direction.
One of the most critical voices on this team is the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). A great CHRO doesn’t merely lead the HR function and its many programs for hiring, developing, and engaging employees; the CHRO is also an invaluable partner to the CEO and executive leadership team.
Why the CHRO is One of the Most Important Hires For a CEO
If your organization doesn’t already have a CHRO, it probably should. Across industries, having an HR leader in the C-suite has become increasingly common over the last few decades. Research from Johns Hopkins University has found that 98 percent of S&P 500 companies have a head of HR reporting to the CEO, compared to only 30 percent in 2000.
CHROs vary in capabilities and impact, but companies that hit the jackpot with a highly effective senior HR leader have realized some tangible benefits. Here are three of them:
1. Strategic partnership
Like the CFO, CIO, and other members of the C-suite, the Chief HR Officer brings domain expertise that helps to inform executive decision-making. In addition to leading the execution of people programs and initiatives, great CHROs also influence the company’s strategic direction. They offer valuable insights about the workforce and challenge the CEO and leadership team as a peer. In a recent Chief Executive/SHRM survey, 84 percent of CEOs and CHROs agreed that the position was critical in acting as a strategic advisor and member of the executive team.
CHROs also support overall operational effectiveness, not just within the HR function but for the entire organization. In fact. the success of many critical business decisions — whether to move forward with an acquisition, a merger, a new division or product line, and even how to advance digital transformation — hinges on getting the people component right. The CHRO provides critical guidance to help the CEO and leadership team steer the workforce in the right direction and ensure the right talent management programs are in place to meet company goals.
2. A winning company culture
Virtually all leadership teams understand the value of competing for talent effectively. But achieving this goal isn’t just about recruitment. It also requires a company culture that attracts top talent and encourages employees to do their best work. The CHRO makes this happen by ensuring the delivery of programs and workplace experiences that attract, engage, and retain talent.
CHROs also have a unique view into the workforce that CEOs don’t often have. They have the pulse of the workforce, and as a result, they understand what culture changes are necessary to address employee needs and build a reputation as a great place to work.
3. A successful digital transformation
Given the seemingly non-stop advancement of new technologies, company leaders must be nimble in evaluating and adopting tech tools that support higher productivity and better decision-making. The forward-thinking CHRO can take the lead in this area. As an Accenture research report recently explained, “With their skills and enterprise-wide impact, a new type of CHRO is stepping up to lead their C-suite peers in connecting data, technology and people — and cultivating collaboration.” By leveraging tools such as AI-driven hiring platforms and predictive analytics, the CHRO can help the organization make great leaps in digital transformation while also helping to increase profitability and smarter talent management.
Whether you hire from the outside or elevate an HR leader from within, having a great CHRO in the C-suite may be just what your organization needs to challenge your thinking and bring new insight to company decision-making.
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