Three questions every CEO should be asking their HR leader

Meeting Business people

It’s the objective of any CEO to draw the most out of every resource in a business. Pinpointing areas for functional teams to focus on is a sensible strategy for achieving this. But when it comes to knowing about the people in the business, what makes them tick and how to mobilize them for the greater good, HR, Chief People or Chief Engagement Officers are best placed to advise the CEO.

So, with that in mind, here are three key questions to get the dialogue started:

CEO: I’m concerned about the future talent pool and whether we can sustain business growth. How can we better plan for the future?

HR: We need better workforce insight to be able to assess our current talent pool. With better insight, it will be easier to identify where the gaps and growth opportunities lie, where we have found our best candidates, what we are currently missing and where we can plug the gaps. We need automated HR systems that can deliver instant, real-time actionable analytics. The insight this provides will mean we’re able to offer more tailored workforce packages and benefits that go beyond take home pay, as well as promote the right people into leadership roles. Whether it be travel, career progression, training and development, flexible working, international secondments, or reward and recognition, we need a best in class system to make our company stand out from the crowd. Only once this is achieved will we be able to deliver optimum experiences for existing employees and attract our industry’s best talent.

CEO: What can I do to elevate our people management onto the same business stage as Marketing, Operations and Finance? What shifts in thinking need to happen for us to achieve that?

HR: Let us show our critical value and worth through better insights. Too many organizations are still flying blind, rather than flying on instruments, relying on outdated systems and processes to manage their workforces. Many companies are overcome by the inefficiencies in their HR systems, which hold them back and limit their potential, it stops our teams from strategic planning. To compete, we need automation in our department. Without the help of analytics to garner insight into what employees want, our business leaders are simply unable to develop appropriate workforce management plans aligned with company and individual needs. Real time analysis means we can both give and get the best from our employees. Without optimized employee experiences, the customer experience will suffer. Leaders, without the necessary information, will also struggle to engage and motivate their teams, leading to higher staff turnover and a loss of productivity.

CEO: In business terms, how important is it for us to become more people focussed? What return will this deliver on the bottom line?

HR: It’s more important than ever. The global war for talent has dictated its importance and the talent shortage is a key issue on our horizon. In the same way that customer feedback is essential, so too are the thoughts and opinions of every member of our workforce. From the admin assistant to the Chief Financial Officer, we must get to know our people better in order to keep delivering optimum employer service and experience. Our people are our best brand advocates. In addition to this, we also need to be more agile and responsive to employees – and prospective employees – to ensure that all needs are met. Whether it’s payroll, recruitment planning or annual vacation, HR systems must be capable of ensuring that all required data is readily accessible, alongside being simple to analyze and interpret. A company’s people are at the heart of the business. So regardless of an employee’s rank or role, any little snippet of insight could have a profoundly positive effect on the company.

While the above CEO / HR dialogue is indicative, it underlines how important it is that business strategy and vision owners and those looking after people communicate regularly. We see an amazing difference in motivation levels and strength of culture among the organizations we speak to that do this.

The HR industry is transforming to encompass people science, analytics, and a better employee experience, so it will be in the CEO’s interest to glean what data and insight they can from the new world of HR. We’re hopeful there will be more and more instances of CEOs and HR/People leaders coming together to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

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