Why does your company need a Chief People Officer?

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Andy Raymond.



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The role of a Chief People Officer (CPO) has become increasingly important in today's business world, as companies recognise the value of investing in their employees amidst historic skills shortages. 

What Is a Chief People Officer?

The Chief People Officer oversees the strategy and processes related to building and retaining an exceptional team of professionals. CPOs act as key members of the Executive team. They build credibility, inspire confidence and influence staff. The CPO is responsible for creating a culture that is people-centric, empowers employees, promotes personal accountability, is fair, collaborative, and delivers continuous improvement.

The role is both internal and external. All the businesses stakeholders are also their stakeholders. A CPO needs to understand their priorities, whether they are shareholders, customers, employees or regulating bodies. These priorities are entwined with ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) issues, and they must own these, as well as the future of work and the impact of technology. This also includes the P&L position, business strategy and road-map and how investors assess the business. The expertise a CPO has is essential and critical to any high-tech business that values its employees and recognises the importance of investing in their development and well-being.  

Who Does the Chief People Officer Report To?

The Chief People Officer typically reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), as they need to understand how the company is performing and where the business is headed in order to set the organisational human capital strategy. Additionally, having the head of the business’s ear can ensure that employee experience remains at the top of the agenda.
CPOs sit on the executive committee, working with the remuneration committee, reporting to the board, and building relationships with the Chair and CEO which are often significant differences from the responsibilities of an HR director. They are responsible for identifying business trends and bringing them into the commercial conversation, outlining the risks, opportunities, and implications of ESG issues.

How do CPOs add value to the company?

A CPO has many responsibilities that add value to a high-tech and engineering business. These responsibilities include strategic planning, labour relations, employee communication, learning and development, and compliance with employment law.

1.  Attracting and retaining top talent

One of the key functions of a CPO is to attract and retain top talent via the employer brand. With ‘the war for talent’, it has become ever more important for a business to stand out as employers of choice. By creating a positive employee experience, offering opportunities for growth and development and providing a sense of purpose and meaning, a CPO can retain these individuals and reduce the cost per hire and employee turnover.

2. Driving (ED&I) equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion have become critical issues in the workplace as companies recognise the value of having a workforce that reflects the communities they serve. A CPO develops and implements strategies to increase equality, diversity, and promote a culture of inclusion. 

This can involve initiatives such as:

  • unconscious bias training
  • diversity recruitment programs
  • employee resource groups

By creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace a CPO can unlock the full potential of the workforce, improving collaboration, creativity and innovation. Research by McKinsey found companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability.

3. Enhancing employee engagement

Employee engagement is another important area that a CPO must focus on. Engaged employees are more productive, more innovative and more likely to stay for the long term. A CPO can create a positive work environment that fosters engagement by providing opportunities for learning and development, offering meaningful work and recognising employee contributions across a diverse community of ‘types’ of employees.

4. Ensuring compliance

As a business grows, the web of laws and regulations to which it is subject becomes increasingly complex. Compliance with labour laws and regulations is essential for any business. Failure to comply with relevant laws can result in costly legal issues, negative publicity and damage to a company's reputation. A CPO ensures that the company is following all relevant laws and regulations, reducing the risk of legal issues and associated costs. 

This can involve initiatives such as:

  • developing and implementing HR policies
  • conducting compliance audits
  • providing training, mentoring programmes to ensure compliance
  • removing internal barriers to compliance.

5. Driving innovation

Finally, a CPO can play a key role in driving innovation within an organisation. By fostering a culture of creativity, collaboration, and risk-taking, a CPO can unlock the full potential of a workforce, leading to new ideas and breakthrough innovations. By creating a culture of innovation, a CPO can ensure their company stays ahead of the competition and remains relevant in a rapidly changing business environment.

Chief People Officer is one of the fastest-growing job titles over the past five years according to research from LinkedIn. It is commercial, strategic, political, personal and varies from business to business. To succeed, a CPO must have the Board’s ear, the Executive Committee’s ear and their ear to the ground.

If your business does not yet have a CPO, it may be time to consider adding this role to your executive team.

Redline Executive offers an extensive portfolio of executive search services and strategic planning, assisting high-technology and engineering businesses to build world-class teams. For more information on Executive Human Resources roles like Chief People Officer, please call Andy Raymond on 01582 450054 or email ARaymond@RedlineExecutive.com.

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