The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) is someone who takes care of all human resource management issues in an organization. CHRO priorities can include anything from upskilling the employees to rewarding the workers.
The way a CHRO works can have a lot of bearing on the organization. It can be the difference between a happy set of employees and disgruntled ones.
The Covid-19 pandemic has added to the woes of the CHROs who were already worried about attrition and other organizational bottlenecks. It has changed the CHRO’s priorities and forced them to adapt to a remote working structure, including making technological and operational changes overnight.
Achieving the objectives of the CHRO priorities for human resources function will be a key enabler for the success of a business. Improving operational excellence is going to be a critical measurement of success in 2022 as well.
For HR professionals, this success will be possible if they can manage to create a truly hybrid working environment where employees will work on-site as well as remotely while having all the flexibility that they could possibly expect from a full-time job.
In this article, we will look at some of the top CHRO priorities and trends for the year 2022.
1. Making mental health a priority
With lockdowns around the world, employees have been cooped up inside their homes for months together now. The divide between one’s home and work has clearly undergone a sea change. It adds to the stress of the employees as managing both the house and work, with kids in tow, has almost become impossible.
An American Psychology Association survey says that more than 78% of the surveyed always feel stressed out and 20% of them said that their mental health has worsened this year. Companies, especially the CHROs, should take this seriously and ensure that employees disconnect from their work at regular intervals too so that they don’t feel burnout.
Employers that offer well-being and mental health benefits such as access to meditation apps, fitness apps or a space, job sharing, flexible working policies, and other benefits make the employees feel good about themselves.
2. Building crucial skills and competencies
The driving force of all organizations is the employees. The critical skills that they possess are of utmost importance as that is what helps them grow their business. One of the major challenges that most CHROs agree on is that the lack of skill gap is not identified. Only when the leaders identify the skill gaps is it even possible to organically integrate learning programs into the workflow.
The environment and the state of work based on the current circumstances are incredibly dynamic. Employees need to come with a variety of skills, and many of these skill sets are new. Most employees are not learning new skills because they do not know which are the skills that they need to learn. CHROs should adopt a dynamic approach when it comes to reskilling their workforce. When learning is integrated into the employee’s daily workflow, employees tend to learn faster as their needs are identified and it becomes easy to discover the results from the program immediately.
3. Enhancing the experience of the employees
The experience that the average employee needs to work a desk job has completely changed, thanks to the pandemic. While some of the working professionals have returned to normal desk jobs, there are many parts in the world where it is still a hybrid working model- both remote and in-office work.
Here are a few ways how employers should bridge the gap:
- Health and well-being benefits should be clearly defined for both remote and on-site workers
- Include flexible options even for those employees who work from home
- Organize events for the families of employees
- Provide remote workers also with counseling facilities
One of the many ways for organizations to offer a great boost to employees is to take an active part in shaping their experiences with you.
Here are a few questions that the employer can ask themselves to provide a greater working experience:
- How to ensure that our employees are given the right kind of training at the right time?
- What can be done to make our company more inclusive?
- How can we create clear expectations for different types of employees?
- How to make sure that our company’s culture is followed in letter and in spirit?
- What are the types of HR policies and programs that should be included in the organization?
- How can the HR department stay aligned to the greater goals of the organization?
4. Adopting new recruiting tactics
When it comes to recruiting, the lesser the number of mistakes you make, the better it is for organizations. Recruiting skilled employees into your workforce is one of the most crucial CHRO priorities. Traditional methods of recruitment might not always work well, especially given the present circumstances, Covid-19 et al.
Instead of seeking the same set of profiles for new job roles, employers should attract the best minds with a variety of techniques. When hiring, instead of just focusing on hiring profiles, shift the concentration towards skills. Make sure that you target those who have specific skills as well as general skills.
Employers these days are also looking for benefits that are close to their hearts. While some of them would prefer a flexible working structure, there are others who want to be sure of the growth opportunities. A CHRO’s recruiting methodology should be such that every candidate who comes in for an interview knows that there is a chance to get all their needs fulfilled when they become a part of the organization.
5. HR Digital Transformation
If you want to change the incumbent HR systems, then the ideal way to go about it is digital transformation. CHROs should proactively seek to use technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual assistants, augmented reality, virtual reality, etc., to improve the life of the average employee in the organization.
HR digitization is not only about solving business problems, but it also changes the way your employees look at the organization. Employees who do not feel as if there is growth in the organization will leave the company for greener pastures.
6. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
CHROs understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion are some of the most important steps that they need to take regularly. From formulating policies for pay equity to finding ways to widen the talent pool and accept people of all backgrounds. It is not only great for the business, but the employees will also feel appreciated. CHROs should make it a point to share their goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion vociferously.
For an organization to be successful on all fronts, it should be proactive about finding the gaps in providing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Even if an organization is not prepared, conversations that happen outside the workplace can accelerate the urgency for the HR teams to make changes inside the workplace.
7. Crisis Management
There has been no greater crisis recently in the business world than the Covid-19 pandemic. No playbook was available for the CHROs to manage this crisis. At no point was a pandemic going to be a part of CHRO priorities. Having to shift quickly to remote work, taking care of the health and safety of the employees, providing appropriate work-related equipment, and worries about the future were all valid concerns of the HR department. There were a lot of things that had to fall in place for a smooth working structure.
Thankfully, the massive efforts taken by the HR department, in association with the CHRO, have paid dividends as employees did notice an increase in engagement thanks to greater flexibility, better communication, and the way organizations cared during this crisis. CHROs should be prepared to help with things that haven’t been done before. It is impossible to create a playbook for every situation, especially so, for a Black Swan event like the pandemic.
It is a unique opportunity for the HR department to ask a lot of questions to employees about how they feel about the change, use the answers, and analyze the data to come up with data-driven decisions. Here are a few questions that can be asked.
- How to address employee concerns and needs immediately?
- How to ensure that employees will be fully engaged with their jobs when they work from home?
- What are the resources that can be offered to ensure that we take care of their mental health?
- Are there activities that can be done from the comforts of everyone’s homes to make them feel a part of the organization and not a disconnected cog in the wheel?
- How to equip managers with enough acumen and understanding of mental health?
8. Better rewards
The year 2022 is a great opportunity for CHROs to reimagine the way rewards are framed for employees. The rewards should support and enable wellbeing, improve ways of working, support flexibility, and concentrate on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Organizations should reframe pay as they are not just a competitive parameter but also an important part of sustenance. Flexible pay and performance management programs will include discussion on how people will get paid, whether it is based on skills or the value that they bring. How will the performance of employees be measured and how will they be rewarded? These are considered CHRO priorities too and they should take a look at it.
When it comes to rewards, there will also be a special focus on benefits such as voluntary benefits, caregiving benefits, retirement and saving benefits, healthcare benefits, insurance benefits, and so on. CHRO priorities would also involve putting more effort to add flexible benefits with flexible methods of working.
9. Human capital measurement and governance
The focus of main stakeholders on human capital measurement and governance will continue to grow in importance in 2021. Organizations will be more focused on environmental, societal, and governance issues which will be linked to business goals too. Focusing on human capital measurement and valuation will lead to better outcomes from operational and financial. CHRO priorities would also involve focusing on transparency and disclosure, it will also be a competitive differentiator.
10. Program financing and cost flexibility
Businesses have spent a lot on the well-being of employees. To make sure that the budget allocated for it is sustainable in the long run, creative ways of financing and capital allocation strategies are one of the CHRO priorities. The upcoming bonus season should also be on the list of CHRO priorities so that there can be fairness in the pay allocated. Even the funding for new learning programs should be something that businesses focus on.
11. Operational Excellence and Change Management
With the nature of business changing rapidly, there is a lot of pressure on the CHROs to improve their operational excellence. In 2022, CHRO’s priorities will be on organizational design and change management. Thanks to mismanaged workflows, many employees are not able to give their best even if they would like to.
CHRO’s priorities should be to include their employees during the process of change planning and management. Businesses these days cannot be tough with organizational hierarchy and age-old processes if they want to go ahead. They should have the proclivity and resources to think beyond things like protocols.
Even cost optimization which aligns costs and resources to business goals is possible only when organizational design and change management is made a priority. Organizations that struggled to respond to the pandemic found themselves in that position because their workflows, structures, design, networks, etc., were not flexible.
12. Reimagining work
Most of us thought that by the end of 2020, things will become normal. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and most of us are still working remotely and there have been a lot of changes and it keeps evolving with time. One of the CHRO priorities should also include how to navigate beyond the physical walls of workplaces.
Here are a few things that would be a part of CHRO priorities in reimagining work:
- Create a people-centric culture
- Increased reliance on technology, mainly automation
- Provide adequate leadership training and support
- Ensure that the policies and processes are followed everywhere in the same way and ensure that there are no inconsistencies
- Ensuring that employees are double vaccinated
- Budgeting for various aspects of the business
13. Employees want to feel heard
One of the top CHRO priorities that they should never forget is giving importance to their employees. CHROs need to build a humane and empathetic employee-employer relationship. It should not be just transactional, but a bit more than that. Employees’ demands and needs have to be heard and valued at regular intervals. There should be a mechanism in place to ensure that employees feel heard. CHROs have a major role to play in it as there needs to be a leadership buy-in to create policies and programs like this.
14. Future leadership
CHRO priorities do not stop with taking care of the employees but also include building leaders. The future of the organization needs to be taken into account so that even if there is a void brought about by the absence of a leader, it will not prove to be a disaster. It is imperative that the CHROs focus on assessing all the systems and processes that are in place to see if any of these hamper the progress of the organization, starting from deterring equal opportunity to worthy candidates to the structure being rigid.
One way to calculate good leaders is to create more networking opportunities that expose talented individuals to connections in the organization. Those who have a wide array of skills and experience should be able to talk to senior leaders and get ideas on how they can grow and advance in the organization. There could even be programs that are specific to the purpose of creating future leaders.
What are the key actions for CHROs in 2022?
- Find more ways to support the hybrid work model with the help of employee-focused design that will offer greater and more flexible experiences
- The management should be empathy-driven and not just focused on results
- The HR department should be organized in such a way that it will be able to attain its goals of agility, employee-centricity, customer-centricity, and operational efficiency
- CHRO should take responsibility for executing business transformation in the incumbent hybrid work model
- They should play a greater role in driving innovation in the organization
Creating an environment where employees feel valued for their contribution is the top CHRO priority. When that falls into place, everything else, starting from innovative practices to the bottom line will look good. Most organizations have learned to become flexible, thanks to the pandemic, and it is something that they should be constantly working on improving.
To provide exceptional growth at the organizational level, CHRO’s priorities should be on adopting a dynamic and flexible approach to embracing technology and upskilling the employees. It will help the employees streamline their goals and put them in a position where they can offer more value to the company.
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