Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, chief human resource officers (CHROs) have been instrumental in navigating workplace disruptions. CHROs are working with the rest of the C-suite to ensure their companies are resilient to endure whatever the future holds.
According to new research from ServiceNow and ESI ThoughtLab, which surveyed 1,080 business leaders across 13 countries, CHROs are focusing on two key issue areas: improving workplace communications and building more resilient workplace cultures. CHROs are aligned with other C-levels on the challenges and benefits of resilience, but their focus on people gives them a different perspective on what to prioritize.
CHROs work to build a resilient corporate culture
CHROs surveyed see themselves as being less responsible for organizational resilience, compared to other executives. However, all interviewed CHROs indicated they’re working to build a resilience-focused corporate culture, to train employees in business continuity measures from day one, and to make sure that policies and procedures reflect the corporate vision of resilience.
Nine out of 10 CHROs are aiming to hire talent that will help their company become more resilient—with two-thirds taking a leadership role on that project. Specifically, CHROs are looking to hire for resilience-related roles, as well as to train and upskill existing employees for resilience-related responsibilities.
CHROs understand the link between open communication and resilience. Throughout the pandemic, resilient companies were able to quickly communicate with employees and staff on changes to workplace, products, services, health and safety measures, and more. To bolster future resilience, more than 90% of CHROs say they want to improve internal and external communications during times of crisis.
Recruiting and high-level vision are priorities for CHROs
Overall, CHROs are aligned with other corporate leaders on what needs to be done to boost resilience: assess and manage third-party risks, report on key risk indicators and metrics, set up new policies and procedures, and digitize and automate workflows. Polled CHROs predict more sizable returns from recruiting specialists and providing a high-level vision of what resilience looks like to their companies.
On average, CHROs see less value from integrating digital workflows into their enterprise platform than other C-levels. The widest gap between CHROs’ priorities and other top execs is in cybersecurity. Fewer than one-fifth of CHROs reported seeing value from improving their company’s cybersecurity, compared to an average of 44% across the boardroom. Although unclear, it is possible that many CHROs do not see how cyberattacks on their organizations can impact hiring, onboarding, and other traditional HR functions.
Modernizing processes poses an issue for CHROs
CHROs identify revenue growth as the greatest benefit of improving resilience. Unsurprisingly, given their role, CHROs are more likely to see reduced costs and higher staff productivity as top benefits of resilience as well.
CHROs will have to overcome technical challenges to achieve resilience goals. Legacy processes and software related to hiring, onboarding, and training are cumbersome and inefficient. CHROs surveyed cite difficulty modernizing company processes as the biggest impediment to resilience. They also identify siloed data as a major problem, more so than the rest of the C-suite.