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6 major changes to the roles and responsibilities of CHROs

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a period of disruption to the workplace, significantly elevating the importance of HR leaders. Organizations must leverage their experience to succeed in the ‘new normal’ – and the pressure is on to adapt to new responsibilities.

The changes in human resource management over the years have usually been gradual, as businesses react to economic, political, and social events. But the upheaval of COVID-19 has accelerated  change in the modern workplace.

Amongst this disruption, the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) role has also undergone a transformation. According to IDC research, over 50% of organizations report that the role of CHRO has grown in importance over the past year. This growth was most noticeable in people-centric industries, such as process manufacturing and professional services, but was noted across multiple sectors.

Today, the worst of the uncertainty may be over – but organizations are still left with the challenge of making temporary measures work in the long term. HR leaders will be key to navigating the way ahead.

Managing people effectively is swiftly becoming the definitive competitive advantage. As businesses look to the future, their ability to attract, retain and engage employees is set to become a critical part of their overall strategy. And that means HR leaders must be ready to embrace their changing roles.

These are the six areas where CHRO roles and responsibilities have undergone major changes:

1) Managing hybrid working

There have been many changes in human resource management over the years – but perhaps none as dramatic as the recent shift to hybrid working.

The pandemic forced workers out of offices and into their homes, and what began as a temporary solution  swiftly became the ‘new normal’. The same IDC research mentioned above, “Buyer Sentiment: Rating the Top Talent and Workforce Challenges,” found that almost 50% of organizations expect that remote or hybrid work will become an embedded part of their work practices.

As a result, CHRO responsibilities now include welcoming people back to work, and maintaining a running dialogue with a disparate workforce to keep people engaged, motivated, and included.

Technology can play a supporting role here, from collaborative tools that can be used across locations, to human capital management (HCM) software that embraces new ways of working and provides a view of the entire business. HR departments may also need to provide training and guidance for management on getting the most out of a hybrid workforce.

2) Attracting the right talent

Although attracting and hiring staff has always been part of the CHRO role, staff shortages in the wake of the pandemic are one of the most significant recent changes in human resource management.

According to IDC’s Buyer Sentiment report, line-of-business and HR leaders say that the top challenge facing their workforce is attracting the right talent.

Offering flexibility, such as hybrid and remote working, is now a necessity to attract gig economy workers. A workforce with a different makeup like this requires different ways to measure performance and engagement and maintain legal compliance, which represents an expansion of CHRO responsibilities as a result.

Diversity and inclusion, already a hot topic before COVID, has become an important way for organizations to discover untapped talent and stay ahead of their competitors.

On top of techniques, HR departments must also consider hiring for potential and investing in people development. Upward mobility and opportunities are now part of the conversation at an early stage. Savvy modern jobseekers are keen to build their skills and careers, and people leaders must be ready to answer their questions.

3) Monitoring and improving productivity

With workers spread across remote locations and offices, monitoring productivity has become increasingly important – and difficult. Managers are unable to check in with employees face-to-face, so the CHRO role has expanded to fill this gap.

New ways of working mean new ways of viewing productivity. HR leaders are facing an uphill battle as they encourage managers to focus less on hours worked and more on tasks completed. Moving to a project-led culture involves changing long-held beliefs, making it one of the more challenging HR changes to make.

Managers must also set clear expectations on staff roles, responsibilities, and support – and ensure consistency. Setting goals and rewarding success, as well as following up on any issues, is vital for monitoring progress and motivating staff. HR departments need to stay on top of this, particularly in the early days, to highlight problems and assist decisions around employee probation periods.

Technology can help; the right tools can support employees to do their jobs more effectively, as well as gathering data to give HR a clear view on productivity overall. For more information, check out our blog on how to prepare for an HR digital transformation.

4) Supporting continuous learning and development

Driving learning and development has always been an important part of the role of CHROs, but in the light of talent shortages, it’s taken center stage.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools offer ways for organizations to identify skills gaps, but there is a manual approach: skill mapping. This requires managers and HR to work together to establish a list of skills required for each role.

Skill mapping can help both the attraction and retention of staff, making it easier to find talent with the right skill sets, and supporting current employees with identifying and building the skills they need to progress.

Over the past couple of years, there has been an explosion of learning platforms, presenting HR departments with the challenge of matching skill paths to the right courseware. This expansion of CHRO roles and responsibilities means employees can benefit from a tailored learning experience that supports the growth of skill bases in-house.

5) Developing and measuring culture

Another of the recent changes in human resource management is an increased focus on culture. It’s a key concern for Millennial and Gen Z job candidates and can contribute to staff attraction and retention.

Although developing culture is sometimes viewed as exclusive to the CHRO role, it really comes from the very top of an organization. Changing culture is difficult, and the first step any organization must take is to understand its existing culture.

Losing sight of employees on a day-to-day basis has led to a concern around losing sight of company culture. This has heightened the demand for engagement tools such as employee surveys, sentiment analysis, and HCM solutions that enable organizations to benchmark and track progress in a meaningful way.

HR departments must not only collect this data but also act on it. Simply asking employees for their opinions is not enough: to win trust, organizations must listen, make change, and be consistent.

6) Creating a great employee experience

As businesses struggle to find staff, it is increasingly important to keep hold of the employees they already have. Employee experience has therefore become a bigger part of the CHRO role.

Productivity is not solely a concern of the business, but also its people. HR leaders must set employees up for success, putting processes in place to ensure they understand their job roles and progression opportunities. Making every individual feel valued and motivated creates a strong culture – and a strong employee experience.

In addition, employees want to feel included. One of the most ground-breaking changes in human resource management, hybrid working, can lead to a fragmented and disengaged workforce without the right planning. CHROs must work to give everyone equal access, regardless of their location, and build a feeling of belonging.

Most important of all is transparency. One of the most important CHRO responsibilities is being open and honest with the workforce, so everyone knows where they – and the organization – are heading.

Meet the challenges

Discover how Unit4’s HCM software can help you keep up with changes in human resource management. Our solutions can boost productivity, engagement, and growth, delivering a better People Experience across your organization – and make all the difference to busy CHROs. For a look at how you can leverage what we offer – and our expertise – to transform the way HR works in your business – check out this webinar panel discussion.

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