A recent global survey of 189 Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) by Korn Ferry sought to understand various issues and challenges faced by them. From top talent challenges to what keeps them up at night, the survey quizzes CHROs on a variety of issues and makes for a rather interesting, insightful and important reading for HR professionals. The following are some of the highlights of the survey:
41% of the CHROs surveyed were of the opinion that when searching for top HR talent ‘business acumen’ is lacking.
Other abilities that were found to be lacking are:
- Ability to turn strategy into action (28%)
- Intellectual horsepower (10%)
- Analytical skills (7%)
- Diversified experience (6%)
- Relational skills (3%)
- Technical skills (1%)
7. 4% also stated that they don’t find it difficult to search for top HR talent
- Inability to directly connect HR efforts to tangible business outcomes (36%) and the inability to align the organization around a change agenda that the CHRO was hired to drive (35%) were considered the top reasons for which a CHRO could voluntarily leave a company.
- However, when asked what could get a CHRO fired, Personality issues/inability to work well with or lead others (37%) and Inability to directly connect HR efforts to tangible business outcomes (34%) were the top factors.
- Unsurprisingly, aligning talent strategy to overall business strategy (34%) and employee engagement and retention (24%) were the top two stressors for CHROs.
- Competitive pressure on the business (29%) and Gaps in existing workforce, shortage of skilled external talent (20%) have been identified as the top two factors having the greatest impact on increasing the complexity of HR role compared to 5+ years ago.
- 52% said that ‘tolerance for ambiguity’ i.e. the ability to work in conditions of uncertainty and change, is the most important competency for a CHRO today. This was followed by ‘confidence’.
- Building the right culture where people are most engaged (59%) was deemed the most important factor to help meet the organisation’s long-term bottom-line goals. This was immediately followed by leadership development (30%)
The top challenges in optimizing workforce are
- Creating an agile workforce to meet evolving demands (44%)
- Building a strong leadership pipeline (20%)
- Enabling leaders in organizations to create real value and drive innovation (13%)
- Creating a common view of what great leadership looks like across an organization (11%)
- Implementing more proactive vs. reactive hiring strategies (9%)
When asked about what the Directors have been most focussed on, regarding HR, this what the CHROs replied
- Executive compensation (40%)
- Succession planning and talent issues (33%)
- Attracting and retaining talent to meet evolving business needs (13%)
- Benefits and health care reform (5%)
- Creating and maintaining a diverse workforce (3%)
- Broad-based compensation (3%)
- Others (4%)
- CFO (35%), Heads of lines of Business (34%) and COO (28%) were chosen as the C-Suite members (other than CEO) with whom the CHRO works closely.
Joseph McCabe, VC, Korn Ferry’s Global Human Resources Centre of Expertise says, “Disruptors such as digitization and globalization are creating an environment of constant organizational change. HR leaders must understand the business challenges that occur as a result of these disruptions, including the impact on the business strategy, and be able to quickly adapt and act.”
The findings of the survey are valuable as they give an insight into the mind of a CHRO. While some findings are surprising (64% said they do not have a strong HR data analytic integration with their business planning), some are expected (creating an agile workforce being the top talent challenge). What sets the findings apart from other studies is the relevance of responses from CHROs in a wide array of topics. The survey, conducted in late 2016, can establish a solid foundation for HR professionals worldwide to comprehend the challenges that perceived as most credible by their leaders. With the HR function contributing actively to other business functions, CHROs will have an increasingly important role in the future.
Joseph McCabe sums up best, “More than ever, CHROs play key roles at the highest levels within the organization, leading critical talent strategies that are core to executing on crucial business priorities.”