What CEOs Want from CHROs


The relationship between Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) is transforming along with everything else in the workplace. CHROs are gaining influence in the C-suite as organizations position themselves for success in the post-pandemic world. The COVID-19 crisis revealed that talent management and the care of an organization’s people are vital.

READ: Great Regeneration: How to Win the War for Talent

In fact, three out of four CEOs said they look to their HR chiefs for views on business strategy and operational issues and planning, according to a recent survey from Chief Executive magazine. Find out what CEOs say they need from CHROs:

Human Capital Solutions

Talent management is top of mind. The majority of CEOs, surveyed by Chief Executive, said that they want their CHROs to spend more time finding, retaining, and upskilling great employees. The pandemic proved that people are the key to achievement in business. Finding and hiring them isn’t enough. The organization should nurture talent, care for individuals, create a psychologically safe workplace, and put together winning teams. CHROs are the ones to lead this mission.  


Nearly 60% of CEOs said talent retention and upskilling was their top priority. In the latest State of HR report, HR Exchange Network found that employee engagement and experience (EEE) is of the utmost importance to respondents.

READ: State of HR

To be successful in leading EEE initiatives, HR leaders should listen to current and former employees. As a result, they may conduct exit interviews, focus groups, and surveys. They might also invest in data analytics to help them track talent management by revealing, for instance, who might be looking for another job. Above all else, CHROs mold the workplace culture and get leadership to live those values and pass on those behaviors to the rest of the team.   


Just about everyone has talked about the skills gap and how employers need to prepare their people for the future of work. For CHROs, this means ensuring their company has a learning and development platform that both trains people for their current roles and provides them with learning opportunities for career growth. In addition, developing a culture of lifelong learning is a necessity as businesses confront advanced technology and rapidly changing business needs.

READ: How Upskilling Helps with Employee Engagement and Recruiting

Availability and Recruiting

Obviously, during a labor shortage, CEOs want a focus on recruitment. More than 55% of CEOs set availability and recruitment as a top priority in the Chief Executive survey. CHROs must ensure their team of recruiters knows how to find and attract top talent. This could mean establishing or improving the organization’s employer brand. To do this correctly, a leader must delve deep into the culture to define HR’s mission and the values that it wants to convey to potential employees. This work requires visionaries, with great communication skills, who can convince others to model this culture and spread the word.

READ: Recruiting Best Practices: Treat Employees Like Customers

Focus on Managers

SHRM research has shown that the five-year cost of turnover from toxic managers exceeds $230 billion. Therefore, it is no surprise that about 55% of CEOs said CHROs could add more value by helping people be better managers, according to Chief Executive. And CHROs agreed with their counterparts on this point. Training people to be better managers is paramount to building a happier workplace.

Managers set the tone, and many have suggested that people quit bad managers and not necessarily their jobs. Strong managers can support HR’s full roster of to-dos. They motivate employees, make for a happier workplace, set the tone for the culture, and improve business outcomes. They serve as mentors, who teach their colleagues as they work. As a result, the employer brand improves, and word of mouth influences the caliber and sheer number of recruits attracted to the company. In a way, building a strong management team is at the core of everything else related to talent management.

WATCH: HR and Future of Work

Build and Maintain Culture

Culture refers to how the company conducts business, the kinds of relationships that are built, whether there is a balance between work and life, how teams come together (or don’t), and the overall feeling of the workplace. While CEOs and CHROs agree that remote work makes maintaining a company culture difficult, they know it is more essential than ever. People are feeling disconnected with their colleagues even if they are experiencing a hybrid work arrangement. So, they need a culture to unify them. HR is the one to hire the people, who set the tone, and get buy-in from leadership, so that the culture trickles down from the top.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

DEI has been in the headlines throughout the pandemic. The Black Lives Matter movement increased interest in ensuring workplaces better reflected the true demographics of a community. More importantly, many began to put an emphasis on helping employees recognize their bias and be more inclusive.

More than 60% of CHROs said DEI should be a bigger priority for CEOs. Only 30% of CEOs agreed in the Chief Executive survey. This demonstrates that CHROs must demonstrate how DEI initiatives contribute to business outcomes. They might also point out how a diverse and inclusive team improves the culture.

READ: DEI: How to Ensure a More Inclusive Workplace

The bottom line is that CHROs have greater responsibilities than ever. Their contributions are directly relating to their employers’ success, and therefore CEOs are working more closely with them. Korn Ferry suggests that the number one job of CHROs is to serve as a strategic advisor to CEOs to ensure a high-functioning executive team.

“The CHRO, indeed, is the CEO of a talent solutions business,” according to Korn Ferry.

Human Resources is doing the heavy lifting by building an effective and engaged team, happy and inclusive workplace, and employer brand fit for winning the talent wars. That’s why CEOs are relying on them heavily and giving voice to them in the C-suite. CHROs will continue to gain status as companies try to stay ahead of the future of work.

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels

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