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Getting your CEO to value HR

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HR is more than just a business function; it helps navigate people through their role and ultimately shapes the organisation. Defining this is normally the issue.

Common misconceptions

How often have you heard this said about HR?

 ‘it’s mostly a cost centre’

 ‘it doesn’t affect the bottom line’

‘ what is the point of investing in HR, where is the value?’. 

These often narrow minded views have pigeonholed HR into a place where the company can remain short-sighted in it’s people attitude, stagnant in it's processes and unattractive to potential employees.

The reality is that beyond handling the usual HR responsibilities—workforce engagement, benefits and compensation, diversity etc - HR has a wider spectrum of skills and knowledge to offer. Majority of tasks compensation/payroll etc have been outsourced or streamlined with the help of tech. So now is an opportune time for a necessary relationship to be forged between CEOs, CFOs and CTOs to anticipate issues, recognise problems and authorise actions around 'people' to add value to the company. CEOs have long put CFOs at the table to oversee financial forecasts, technology is sweeping through companies to make the lives of the employees easier and accelerate processes, so why is it not crucial to use the ‘people experts’ of the company to navigate the company’s strategic direction?

Here are just a few of the strategic areas the CHRO leader should be invited to perform:  

Anticipate issues

Because a company’s performance depends largely on the alignment between people and jobs, a CHRO can help to solidify what a particular job role requires and anticipate how and why a particular person can and will meet those needs. By informing CEOs of competitor hiring decisions, CHROs can make sure the company stays one step ahead of the curve with imminent shifts in trends or product/service focus. By reconfiguring the right people, leaders and skills to the right jobs, better decisions will be executed and in turn better products and services created to give your company that competitive edge.

Recognise problems

How are leaders reacting to change? How resilient are they and the teams they lead? Are they taking the right course of action when necessary or taking a laissez-faire approach? Where is communication broken in key departments? Which personalities are causing frictions in which teams? How to make mult-generational teams work better? What is our competition doing with their leadership teams, that we need to take heed of? Often CEOs are unaware of fundamental cracks or flaws that are pivotal to the success or failure of a project, team or goal. The strategic advantage a CEO is looking for occurs when CHROs can draw attention to and highlight the issues as well as prescribe a course of action to avoid disaster.

Prescribe valued added changes

The CHRO is in a position to pinpoint precisely why an organization might not be performing well or meeting its goals. CEOs must learn to seek such analysis from their CHROs instead of defaulting to consultants immediately. By giving them the breathing space and the ability to make suggestions or recommend actions, CHROs can unlock or create value. These might include recognising someone’s unearthed talent and updating the list of high potentials, moving someone from one department to another to ignite growth in a new market, changing the review processes or redesigning the offices spaces based on employee feedback.

Facilitate company culture

The development and amplification of the company culture is the key to strategic performance, building a recognisable employer brand and driving positive financial results. CHROs should endeavour to draw their CEO’s attention to the continued integration of values and culture components so that they remain consistent in all aspects of the daily company operations including talent recruitment, development, engagement, and management.

Use data as a tool for better decisions

CHROs can help increase human-capital efficiency through their use of data. CHROs have their fingers on the pulse and know why and where turnover is most prevalent. Working with CTOs they should be advocates for the right uses of innovation and technology and advise the CEO on how to best use this to create efficiencies, bring talent insights to the forefront, and create a more collaborative, unified and happier workforce.

Businesses don’t create value; people do. A key seat at the table for a CHRO is necessary to educate, teach and relay the intricacies of the ‘people’ landscape to help CEOs make better business decisions that affect the bottom line.

Samantha  Clarke

By Samantha Clarke

Samantha is the owner of Samantha &, a happiness and change consultancy that works with predominantly tech and creative companies keen to develop innovative ways of shaping culture and work to make employees happier. Samantha is also a faculty member at The School of Life.

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