Historically, HR has garnered a reputation as a purely administrative function. Apart from the work they do in onboarding/offboarding talent and ensuring everyone toes the line, there’s often a temptation to see little else. In fact, some go so far as to tag HR as “the complaints department” and no more.
Unsurprisingly, this view tends to detract from the premium placed on the work that HR does and the value of its personnel. For context, a survey by HR tech firm, Namely, found that, out of 1,000 midsize organizations surveyed, just 7% had a C-level HR executive. Worse, when asked what departments they felt were most valuable to their organization, CEOs ranked HR in ninth place, according to research from McKinsey and Conference Board.
Yet, the imperative for proactive, multi-dimensional recruitment and talent management is only increasing. As we are seeing, the human resource is emerging front and center as a critical concern for organizations, and the majority of CEOs now see attracting and retaining talent as a top challenge.
Considering this, it may be time to rethink these dated perceptions about the HR function and what it brings to organizations, as well as the role that a Chief Human Resources Officer plays in unlocking this value.
The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) operates at an executive level and is primarily concerned with running point on human resources strategies. While HR traditionally deals with the functional aspect of managing an organization’s workforce, the CHRO brings on board a business-critical aspect to the HR function.
The CHRO is particularly valuable in bringing a strategic focus to recruitment, company culture, and talent management. In addition, they help coordinate the overall execution of HR functions in line with broad organizational objectives and aspirations, from the C-level downwards.
Described in this way, the role of the CHRO almost seems to add a different characterization to what HR does and how it functions. In fact, this might actually be the case. As the Harvard Business Review points out, the modern HR function can be split into two – administrative and strategic.
The administrative function is essentially HR in the traditional sense, although augmented by modern technology and a data-oriented approach. But in the strategic sense, HR becomes not just an expense, as it was considered in the days of “personnel management”, but a critical player in aligning an organization’s workplace environment with its key business aspirations – and the CHRO is key to achieving this.
Since HR teams rarely have time to focus on the bigger picture, the CHRO provides top-level guidance on core HR functions while adding an external perspective backed with an understanding of market dynamics and the competitive landscape.
As we gradually transition into the future of work, organizations are finding that the human resource is rapidly ascending the pyramid of key business assets. While AI and automation have radically altered the complexion of several jobs and will eliminate others, they only serve to highlight the dynamic nature of the roles that remain (and will emerge). We are already seeing a mismatch in available talent and open roles in many industries, and even when supply increases, there will still be stiff competition for the best.
It is organizations that are able to draw up and implement an authentic, well-considered approach to designing an environment where people want to work that will compete in this rapidly-approaching future. Put this way, it’s easy to see why being able to call on an executive who can bring the strategic perspective of the C-suite into the HR function is so important.
CEOs around the world already see human capital as one of their biggest challenges, and leaving a CHRO out of the C-level equation is unlikely to solve that problem. With a CHRO who possesses proven experience in hard-core HR functions balanced with extensive exposure to business strategy, organizations can evolve a strategic approach to their human capital outlook while also meeting their recruitment challenges.
Despite their clear importance to organizations, CHROs continue to face multiple challenges. As Boyden indicates in their report on the state of the CHRO role, these challenges are “numerous and complex” and often vary depending on how much support HR receives from management. These challenges include:
While these challenges are concerning for HR practitioners, it is clear that we are on the cusp of another paradigm shift in the general perception of HR. With the rapidly-evolving concept of the modern workplace, employee satisfaction and engagement is beginning to rank as high as (if not higher than) customer satisfaction. As a result, we expect these challenges to be short-lived as more organizations awaken to the value in their human capital.
When hiring a modern CHRO, organizations need to look out for specific competencies. These CHRO competencies will vary across organizations, depending on their unique needs and culture. Nevertheless, prior experience in business-related functions, as well as HR competencies, will be critical.
Since the role of chief human resources officer is inherently strategic, CHROs need practical skills, like payroll processing and compliance. They should also be data-minded leaders and exceptional communicators who excel in:
A chief administration officer (CAO) manages the day-to-day operations of a company and acts as the go-between for the CEO and senior-level management. A CAO also helps lessen the burden on a CEO by taking over time-consuming managerial tasks. By relieving the CEO of executive-level administrative duties, the CAO provides the chief operating officer with more time to focus on business strategy and important business relationships.
Main CAO responsibilities and duties usually include:
A chief administrative officer must be able to juggle multiple tasks and projects at one time while acting as a critical liaison between the C-suite and top management. To be successful in this role, CAOs need to be:
Here’s more on how each of these skills and qualities is essential to the success of the chief administrative officer role.
The CAO has to manage messages to and from the CEO as well as effectively relay orders to department leaders. Clear communication is required to give concise messages and instructions without confusing any parties involved.
Many administrative and managerial duties involve tedious paperwork and other menial tasks. Organizational skills are vital when performing these duties to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
While the CAO relays information to the CEO for department leaders, the chief administrative officer also has to wear a leadership hat when supervising various departments. The ability to lead people with professionalism and charisma is an ideal quality you want in a CAO.
A chief administrative officer and a chief operating officer have very different roles, but both are valuable to a company. Understanding the difference between these two positions can provide insight into your hiring decisions and help you look for the right talent for your business. Below are the main differences between the two roles.
The role of a CAO
A chief administrative officer is responsible for day-to-day operations. The CAO typically reports to the chief executive officer and acts as a go-between for the CEO and upper management. By taking on the daily operations of the company and fielding questions from management, the CAO provides the CEO with the space needed to explore new business strategies and other important company matters. If you’re looking for someone who can help lighten the CEO’s role, a CAO is an excellent hiring choice.
The role of a COO
A chief operative office is an executive position responsible for improving efficiency. The COO often works with personnel management, sales, and production. By engaging with these departments, the COO finds areas for improvement and works to implement procedures and practices that will increase efficiency. If you need someone to conduct performance reviews and audit business processes, a COO can create a strategic plan to improve operations.
The importance of hiring the right role
Carefully review the tasks typically assigned to a CAO versus a COO to determine which position is most important to your company. You may need both a CAO and a COO but understanding the different roles will help you prioritize the positions and focus on the pain points of your business.
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Recruitment and talent acquisition may seem like the same thing, but these two hiring strategies are very different. It’s important to understand the differences between these hiring methods so your company can implement the best hiring process possible. Below outlines the company mindset and processes that differentiate recruitment and talent acquisition.
What is recruitment?
Recruitment is a reactive hiring process that begins with an open company position. The purpose of recruiting is to locate qualified candidates that can fill an empty role within a company. In most cases, companies have an established recruiting process that goes into effect as soon as a position becomes vacant. The recruitment process is no doubt essential to any business, but it mainly addresses a company’s immediate staffing needs.
What is talent acquisition?
Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is a long-term process. With talent acquisition, HR works to build relationships with promising talent in anticipation of future company needs. The approach to talent acquisition tends to be more dynamic and requires much more patience. It’s also vital for the HR team to understand the company’s overall strategic plan so they can target the right talent for the future.
Is one more important than the other?
Both recruitment and talent acquisition have their part to play in a company. Overall, however, talent acquisition can be more valuable long-term. This is because talent acquisition isn’t just about finding the best people, it also focuses on how to retain employees once they’re hired.
Talent acquisition really focuses on how to invest in employees. This strategy not only reviews a company’s current and future staffing needs, but it also takes into consideration workforce trends and factors that attract top talent. Hiring managers know that money isn’t the only thing necessary to attract the best talent. When an employee leaves the business, strategic exit interviews should be conducted to determine what could’ve been done to prevent the resignation. Recognizing why employees leave the company is a powerful tool for improving the overall company culture and retaining future talent.
When a company recognizes ways to improve the business, this strengthens current employee relationships and creates an attractive workplace setting for future employees. Insightful exit interviews and monitoring the pulse of employee satisfaction are just two small aspects of strategic talent acquisition.
When to use recruitment vs. talent acquisition
In some cases, you might not be able to use talent acquisition to fill a position. If you have a sudden vacancy within the company, recruitment is usually the best route for quickly filling the position. If you receive an employee’s two-week notice and weren’t anticipating the resignation, it’s too late at this point to start the talent acquisition process. In this case, reach out to your recruiting firm to have the position posted on the job boards.
Talent acquisition comes in handy when you’re considering long-term hire needs. For example, growing businesses often create new leadership positions to manage growing departments. Your business may need a chief marketing officer or perhaps a social media manager in the near future. With this in mind, the HR team can start finding talent in similar positions to not only put together their own job description but also to start building a potential talent pool.
Overall, there are three main instances when your company should consider talent acquisition over recruitment:
Talent acquisition is about more than finding the right hire for your company. It’s also about ensuring your company can meet the employee’s needs. A talent acquisition strategy is vital for the long-term success of your business, so if you don’t already have one in place now is the time to add it to your business strategy. Recruitment, of course, will always have its place within a business but it should mainly be used for sudden vacancies. In all cases, remember to look at hiring as an investment and remember to show your employees how valuable they are to the business.
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