Find out what skills and experience companies want HR C-Suite executives to have — and what they’ll need to succeed later on
While in the past, CHROs may have been locked out of leadership discussions, that’s no longer the case at a number of organizations.
Some sources suggest the amount of chief HR officers who now report to directly to the CEO is as high as 94 percent; the C-level HR role has also expanded at 62 percent of organizations to include additional departments reporting to the CHRO.
The position has changed in recent years; and, as a result, there can be some confusion among companies looking to identify chief human resource officer candidates — and HR professionals wondering how to prepare to eventually assume a CHRO role.
To fully understand what being a HR C-Suite executive encompasses today, and what it will involve in the future, companies and potential candidates need to know what factors are influencing the role’s evolution — which include:
A push to broaden the CHRO position
There’s a divide at a number of companies over what HR leaders’ central focus should be. More than a third (38 percent) of executives with non-HR titles say their executive leaders feel chief HR officers’ emphasis should be on traditional human capital tasks, including managing benefits, compensation and compliance, according to a poll conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and sponsored by Visier.
However, just about as many (39 percent) feel executives at their organization believe HR professionals should primarily focus on aligning human resources with business strategy. Whether or not executives agree, that’s how many CHROs are allocating their day: 71 percent are spending more time on business issues that are unrelated to HR or talent, according to CEB data. Seventy percent are spending more time participating in business projects in a leadership capacity.
A heightened desire for non-traditional HR proficiencies
Organizations have increasingly filled CHRO roles with HR professionals, instead of executives from other departments, in both the U.K. and the U.S. in recent years, according to KPMG research and an annual survey conducted by the Center for Executive Succession at the University of South Carolina.
However, as HR leaders have begun to be pulled more frequently into business strategy and other work, a greater emphasis has been placed on finding chief human resource officer candidates who have a diverse skill set.
The Center for Executive Succession’s survey found 60 percent of U.S. chief HR officers have obtained experience outside of the human resources realm during their career; 25 have percent worked in one other function, and 18 percent spent time working in two functions. Ten 10 percent of HR C-Suite executives have worked in three.
Many businesses are also hiring external CHROs, instead of internal candidates whose experience may be limited to roles they’ve held within their current organization. More than half — 61 percent — of employers brought an outside CHRO on board in 2016.
Growing data analytics use
As businesses ramp up their big data-related insight efforts, signs point to the CHRO role becoming more data-driven. Some HR leaders are already being asked to utilize analytics to improve recruiting and other functions, according to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report.
A shortage of analytical skills within HR, however, may be an issue, according to the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services’ report. Nearly a quarter of CEOs and CHROs say that is the biggest obstacle companies face in using data to inform effective strategy decisions. Most agree they’d like HR to be more analytical; 34 percent, though, say their company hasn’t done anything to help HR obtain those proficiencies.
The increasingly competitive talent market
As top candidates become more sought after — employers around the world reported the highest talent shortage since 2007 in Manpower’s 2016/2017 talent survey — HR C-Suite executives’ candidate- and employee-related responsibilities will likely remain a priority.
Seventy-five percent of executives say chief human resource officer’s most important challenge is attracting, developing and retaining talent, according to Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. Executives identified two other talent-centric tasks — developing leadership capabilities beyond the leadership team (72 percent) and creating an agile workforce (57 percent) — as CHRO’s second and third most pressing undertakings.
In addition to recruiting HR leaders and other C-suite members, such as external CEO candidates, chances are, your organization will at some point need to also fill other roles.
If you’re looking for recruitment, workforce planning and hiring best practice tips and strategies, check out our posts on creating an ongoing talent pipelining program, factoring unexpected scenarios into succession planning, 3 signs a candidate is ready for a leadership role and the case for recruiting at all levels.