Chief People Officer ("CPO") is in high demand especially for human centered organizations' employee happiness, culture, people strategy, - Dr. Vic, TEP.Global.

Chief People Officer in Human Centered Organizations (part 1 of 2)

Chief People Officer in Human Centered Organizations (part 1 of 2)

By Dr. Vic | Jan 31st, 2024 | Employee engagement, HR consulting, Management consulting, Organizational development, People management, Talent assessment, | 0 Comments

A Chief People Officer (CPO) leads a human centered organization’s culture, people strategy, employee engagement, acquisition & development.

Disengaged employees cost companies trillions globally

“Disgruntled employees cost US companies an estimated $1.9 trillion in lost productivity last year, according to research from Gallup that puts a price tag on workplace unhappiness.” “The overall hit to the global economy totaled an estimated $8.8 trillion,…” “The research paints a bleak picture of America’s workforce. Only one-third of respondents said they are engaged at their jobs, while half are giving minimum effort — what has been dubbed ‘quiet quitting’”, according to Jan. 24, 2024’s report on Bloomberg.

The same report stated that more employees don’t clearly know what’s expected of them, which led to reduced engagement.

“There’s definitely an expectation among the new workforce to have more of a coaching-manager type who really thinks about their development,” said Harter, an author of several books on management: “They’re demanding work to improve their life, not just to be a separate thing.”

TEP.Global has for years advocated prioritizing employees’ self actualization at work, and fostering a healthy organizational culture. The post-pandemic shift to human centered people strategy has proven our points, which are exacerbated by AI, digital transformation, hybrid work model, and employee demand for more autonomy and fulfillment at work.

High Demand for Chief People Officers 

To increase employee engagement and productivity requires top executive leadership to steer people development with an organizational people strategy. Not surprisingly, more and more corporations are adding Chief People Officer (“CPO”) positions to their C-suites in the past few years, according to LinkedIn research. They hope to improve talent management, workplace culture, employee productivity, and cooperations among internal and external stakeholders.

Apple appointed Carol Surface as its first CPO in 2023, reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Walmart CPO Donna Morris, expressed that she would “love for all of our people to think like a Chief People Officer because then they’d be focused on creating the environment that allows us to attract, engage, develop, and retain the best associates or employees.”

Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft CPO and EVP of HR said: “I wear many hats.” “My job is really to listen and learn from [employees] and make decisions that help us create an empowering culture where everyone can do their best work.”

What is a Chief People Officer? 

For human-centric organizations, a Chief People Officer (CPO) focuses on the big-picture people strategy, culture, growth trajectory and the bottom line of an organization together with other C-suite executives such as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). 

A CPO is responsible for creating and implementing initiatives and programs related to employee engagement, employee retention, people development. A CPO also oversees HR managers or directors and receives reports from them regarding talent acquisition, benefits and training.

“The chief people officer (CPO) is responsible for coordinating and overseeing all of an organization’s human resources efforts, such as hiring and retaining employees, creating development opportunities and fostering a productive corporate culture.”

A CPO has many different duties. According to

  • “Shape a company’s people strategy, including hiring practices, leadership development and training programs.
  • Establish and maintain on and off-boarding strategies. 
  • Refine recruitment policies. 
  • Gather feedback on employee wellness and productivity to inform culture strategies. 
  • Help develop succession planning. 
  • Oversee company-wide communication with employees.
  • Manage employee benefit programs.”

A CPO’s duties can be both “macro” and”micro”, as defined by :

  • “Communicating with other top-level executives to facilitate organizational change
  • Creating a communication strategy for remote workers…
  • Establishing a feeling of community among company employees
  • Encouraging collaboration with employees to complete projects efficiently
  • Finding ways to guide employees toward making ethical choices in the workplace
  • Offering coaching and/or mentoring programs within the organization
  • Facilitating learning and development strategies
  • Leading organizational change management
  • Increasing employee retention and engagement rates.”

As the CPO role evolves from organization to organization, there may be more or fewer responsibilities.

As a member of the C-suite, working with committees and reporting to the board, a CPO and the rest of the executives run the company with a vision for the future of work and the impact of technology.  A CPO therefore needs to understand the organization’s stakeholders and their priorities, whether they’re external shareholders, customers, regulators, or internal employees and managers. 

Since a CPO’s broader role of formulating HR strategy requires wider business skills and persuasive power for leadership buy-in, the day-to-day running of HR administrative functions of recruitment, pay, and benefits can be shared by or delegated to the HR department. 

A CPO can lead changes in corporate culture

Creating learning and development opportunities for today’s workforce is critical for an organization to stay competitive. Through talent and culture, a CPO has great influence over an organization’s employee wellbeing, productivity, mission, purpose, and leadership. Thus the CPO has the potential to instigate senior leadership to reorient their organization to be employee centered.

As AI is disrupting the business world, companies equipped with forward looking leadership can better deal with issues such as multi-generational workforces, hybrid remote work with a long term agenda, and prepare to transition to a human centered future of work. 

Defining and shaping corporate culture is perhaps the most important function a CPO can play, as a company pivots from the obsolete Industrial Revolution model to the People Centered Age. Changing a company culture is profoundly challenging, but has long lasting effects on all divisions, departments, teams, and the entire organization.

Shaping a company culture is more than talking. The hardest part is to bring desired changes to reality, especially at the team level consisting of mid level managers and their people, where culture is deeply rooted.

Implementing cultural changes requires relentless planning and persistent actions at all levels of an organization, from communications on behalf of the CEO, down to decisions on hiring, firing, promoting, and developing individuals.

Given the weight of responsibilities, even the best CPOs need support from both within the organization and from outside independent coaches and consultants. 

Retaining outside expertise, independent consulting and coaching 

As a CPO’s function gets complex and multifaceted, there are growing needs for world-class talent assessment for leaders, teams and individuals.  Few organizations have in-house state-of-the-art assessment tools that integrate points of views from both external stakeholders and internal management and workforce, for purposes of nuanced talent development and complex leadership succession.

CPOs and their organizations can benefit from using outside resources to assess, coach,  upskill and reskill executives and managers, as well as help with team building. 

Independent consultants like those at TEP.Global, can collect and analyze employee engagement surveys, feedback from their clients and that of the board, as well as objective assessments of underlying cultural currents, to set CPOs and their organizations for success with people strategy and people development. Leveraging independent consulting and coaching from outside of the organization is indispensable for its growth from good to great, and from great to outstanding.

But is the CPO a panacea for all people related challenges in an organization? Is hiring a CPO the solution to all issues related to employee engagement, retention, and growth?

To be continued in Pt. 2.

TEP.Global is a globally recognized people management leader, with 100 years of combined experience, deep expertise in a wide range of leadership assessment, executive recruitment, workforce development, employee engagement, HR consulting, company culture and brand building, etc.

Please contact us for more information.

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