CHRO Report Card: What the gaps tell us about the future of HR

The gap between what companies want from their chief HR officer (CHRO) and what they believe their CHRO delivers is striking.  Based on 362 companies surveyed by Harvard Business Review (full report here)...

  • 70% thought CHROs should use an accurate and complete view of workforce costs to evaluate decisions---yet only 34% said their company’s CHRO does this.
  • 78% of companies surveyed want their CHRO to talk about human capital in business terms---yet only 33% believe their CHRO does.
  • 69% believe their CHRO should use data and analytics to help make workforce decisions----while only 31% believe their CHRO does.

While HR leaders have been talking about the changing role of HR for years, this gap is huge. As Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder at Bersin by Deloitte said, “People are talking about it. A small number are doing it well. But the vast majority is still struggling. We call it stuck in neutral.”


What do these gaps tell us about the future of HR?

New CHRO hires are likely to be more business-focused and data-savvy. They may bring a strong business, finance, or analytics background instead of a traditional HR background. Laszlo Bock from Google was a management consultant at McKinsey, Lori Goler from Facebook was a Senior Director of Marketing at eBay, and Kristen Robinson from Pandora started her career as a CPA at Ernst & Young. That’s not to say that new CHRO hires will not bring any HR experience, but rather they will be more likely to also have experience in other business functions.

Many HR professionals will need to improve their quantitative skills to stay relevant. Not only improving their ability to collect and analyze data, but also their ability to tell the story behind it. As Gabrielle Toledano, EVP and Chief Talent Officer at Electronic Arts said, “You have to explain what the data means within the context of the business, and ideally use the workforce data for predictive analytics that help the business get ready for the future.” The ability to distill data into actionable insights is crucial.

New org structures may emerge. Companies may adopt new org structures to meet the emerging set of expectations. The HR function could be expanded or the lines redrawn. John Boudreau from USC’s Center for Effective Organizations talks about the value of HR teams hiring engineers and data scientists. Josh Bersin could envision workforce analytics being performed by line-of-business executives instead of by HR. And, Ram Charan has proposed splitting HR into two functions---one to focus on compensation and benefits, reporting to the CFO, and another to focus on leadership, organization, strategy, and improving talent, reporting to the CEO. We may see more diversity across companies in how the HR function is structured.


What are you seeing in your organization and in others?

How is the role of HR evolving, and what are the implications? Join the discussion and leave a comment below.


Slate Advisers is an outplacement services firm that partners with companies to accelerate employee transitions and support a smoother departure, protecting the company's employment brand and morale. We tailor career transition services to the needs of each individual - matching each person with a team of experts to help them figure out what they want to do next and position them to find a job faster. Our clients range from venture-backed startups to the Fortune 1000.


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