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Future of the CHRO: Top CHRO Priorities for Business Impact

Arunima Shrivastava

Arunima Shrivastava

June 5, 2023 7 min read

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We are thriving in a world of disruptions – digital transformations, economic uncertainties, changing nature of jobs, rise of hybrid work and political upheavals are constantly transforming the ecosystem, putting enormous pressure on leaders to adapt and navigate this change successfully.  CHRO priorities must change accordingly, they will have a critical role to play in the coming years. Recent research conducted on 350 HR leaders reflected about the role of uncertainty in their function. Over the next two years they want to prioritise initiatives that strengthen their organisation’s ability to drive change in leadership, culture, and employee experience.

Being at the helm of people affairs, CHRO priorities must be aligned with the need to steer organisational transformation alongside the rest of the C-suite to become more versatile and inclusive to drive business impact. Apart from managing investments in people and technology, CHROs would need to focus on other key imperatives. Recent research comprised of more than 800 HR leaders, revealed the top 5 CHRO priorities in 2023, which are – leader and manager effectiveness, change management, managing employee experience and future of work. Similarly, Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends survey polled 10,000 business and HR leaders from 105 countries and emphasized the need to ‘reimagine HR leadership’ in a way that impacts not only their organization or shareholders but the broader society as well.

Different organizations may have different set of priorities; however, the core themes would largely remain the same which would demand attention from the CHROs.  Let’s dive deeper and look at some of the core HR priorities that will need CHROs attention. The priorities have been listed in no particular order:

Strong partnership across the c-suite

There’s always this fundamental issue with how HR should be positioned within organisations. It is an observation that the partnership model that many HR functions deploy doesn’t encourage partnership rather, it encourages subordination. It mostly positions HR as a reactive, operational support function rather that a proactive, strategic ally. HR leaders must start leading by proactively taking charge of the strategic issues. HR leaders need to elevate their market knowledge and need to partner strongly with other functions like IT, sales and finance to have a strong grip of the larger ecosystem. Each function brings strengths and unique insights into rethinking talent strategies that drive business impact and HR as a function need to work in tandem with them.

Talent acquisition and retention

Finding and retaining top talent will continue to be one of the top CHRO priorities, especially considering the volatile job scenarios in the market. CHROs will have to focus on developing effective recruitment strategies, leveraging technology for candidate screening and selection, and implementing robust onboarding processes to ensure new hires are engaged and remain productive.

Employee well-being and mental health

Recent research by APA positions ‘employee mental health’ as one of the top priorities at the workplace. Employee wellness and mental health has garnered immense importance of late as the world is grappling with financial stressors, aftermath of pandemic and shifts in workplace culture. Also, mental health issues can have a direct effect on work productivity and the overall well-being of an employee. Some of these effects include – absences from work, diminished work productivity, damage to personal relationship and decline in overall health. Good part is, CHROs are recognizing the importance of employee well-being and prioritizing initiatives that support the mental and physical health of employees. This may include providing access to wellness programs, mental health resources, flexible work arrangements, and creating a positive work culture that promotes work-life balance.

Managing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

DEI initiatives will remain talk of the town as organizations strive to build diverse and inclusive workforces. HR will need to deepen their efforts to increase representation of underrepresented groups, foster inclusive workplace cultures, implement unbiased hiring practices, and provide training and education to promote diversity awareness.

Upskilling and reskilling employees

Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends study highlights that difficulty in hiring the talent with the right skill set, at the right price, remains a top concern in 2022 and will continue to be important in the years to come. With rapid technological advancements and evolving job requirements, CHROs will need to focus on upskilling and reskilling employees. This includes identifying skill gaps, designing skill-based talent processes, fostering a culture of continuous learning, and supporting career development to ensure employees have the right skills needed to thrive in their roles.

Leveraging Data Analytics and AI/ ML approach to uplevel operations

Data is the new oil of the digital economy; by leveraging the power of data, deeper analyses can be made at many levels to improve the overall functioning. Using artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) to augment a skills-based approach empowers not only an individual worker with career growth, but also the organisation as a whole For example, organisations can identify the skill gaps between what the current workforce can do vs what’s needed for the project. AI/ML can also throw valuable insights around predicting attrition and ways to arrest it.

Employee Experience (EX) and performance management

A recent Gartner survey of HR leaders, 47% of respondents cited employee experience as a top priority for 2023. Employee experience (EX) refers to all employee interactions with their organisation, from recruitment to retirement. Basis their interactions, employees form their perceptions about organisational culture, leadership and overall work environment. A positive employee experience may boost productivity, engagement, and customer satisfaction or vice versa. CHROs will need to prioritise initiatives to enhance employee experience and performance. This may involve implementing regular feedback mechanisms, fostering a positive work environment, recognising and rewarding achievements, and providing opportunities for career growth and development.

Remote and hybrid workforce management

As remote and hybrid work models become more prevalent, CHROs will need to focus on managing and optimizing these arrangements. This includes establishing clear remote work policies, providing necessary technology and infrastructure, fostering effective communication and collaboration among remote teams, and ensuring equitable treatment for all employees, regardless of their work location.

Looking ahead, CHROs must strive to play a more strategic role which is capable of connecting business value and growth to everything related to talent. Being aware of the critical HR priorities will help them drive the business with greater impact.

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