3 Things CEOs Need from HR Leadership

“Our company’s most important asset is its people” — CEOs have been saying it for decades. But this sentiment isn’t always reflected in company priorities.

Now, as job seekers are getting more discerning and top talent is harder to recruit and retain, CEOs are refocusing on the importance of their people — and looking to HR leadership to help make sure they’re doing it right.

This is an opportunity for HR to move towards being a thought partner at the highest level Click To Tweet

“This is an opportunity for HR and talent function to move away from being seen as a cost center and really move towards being a thought partner at the highest level of the company,” explains Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and CEO of The Muse. In other words, an opportunity for HR to become more agile.

Sound exciting? Scary? Regardless, if you’re ready to step up to the plate and show how HR can help a company achieve its core goals, start with these three things that CEOs need more of from their HR team.

1. Preemptive Recommendations for Strategic Growth

The CEO is often in charge of planning the company roadmap, but without the right people to execute on it, it’s unlikely they’ll get anywhere—and a lot of CEOs lose sleep over this fact. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers 2017 CEO survey, 77 percent of CEOs worry that skills shortages could slow their company’s growth.

77 percent of CEOs worry that skills shortages could slow their company’s growth Click To Tweet

This is where HR leadership is primed to step in. “HR and talent teams are most effective when they’re looking at the overall goals of the business and thinking about how the company’s people and talent strategies support those goals,” says Minshew. “And if you want to take it one step further you might ask yourself: What are the risks to the business? What are the challenges that might arise because of a lack of the right person in the right role that would prevent us from achieving our goals, and how can we flag those early?”

This might mean coming to the table with recommendations for staffing, being the expert on hiring timelines to make sure the right people arrive when they’re needed, or even advocating for a higher budget when it will help get the people necessary to achieve company goals. “There’s something very frustrating for leadership about learning after it’s too late to fix the problem that you were a few thousand dollars shy of being able to get the right person in on schedule,” Minshew says.

2. An Authentic Employer Brand

Part of the challenge is figuring out what roles are needed—and part of it is hiring the right people. Some of this is about having an interview process that vets people well, but it’s also about communicating a brand story that attracts candidates who will be a good fit.

While, yes, the CEO is very often the public face and voice of a company’s consumer brand, they may not always be the decision makers about the employer brand. That’s because, as Minshew explains, authenticity is the name of the game when it comes to doing employer branding well, and CEOs may not be close enough to the daily action to get it right.

You can see the impact in both the candidate drop off rate during the process and employee retention Click To Tweet

Instead, they look to HR leadership to help construct an employer brand by getting the perspectives of the people who know it best—the employees. Whether through surveys or focus groups, Minshew has found that it pays off when companies build employer brands from the bottom up rather than the top down. “When companies figure out how to articulate a positive but authentic and honest employer brand, you can really see the impact of that in both the candidate drop off rate during the process and also in employee retention,” she explains.

3. An Optimized Employee Lifecycle

Finally, once the right people are hired, CEOs really rely on HR leaders to make sure the employee lifecycle is optimized to help each employee be happy and successful during their tenure at the company, and leave with a positive impression whenever they move on.

With best practices changing so fast in the performance management and learning and development spaces, CEOs need HR leaders to, not only stay abreast of new tactics, but figure out which of those will work best in their organization.

“You’re never going to be able to try or implement everything, but take one or two things a quarter to experiment with a your company to see whether they make a big difference in employee growth and development, satisfaction, and retention,” Minshew says.

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