- A joint Harvard Business Review (HBR) and SHRM study found that HR leaders can influence the CEO more than other executives in the C-Suite. HBR interviewed recruiters, CEOs and C-suite members for the study to find out what happens when non-HR executives take on HR roles.
- Study results show that CEOs rate talent acquisition as a top challenge. The findings also reveal that executives outside of HR were reluctant to become CHROs because they thought the profession had a negative perception, was limiting career-wise and wouldn’t have any impact on an organization.
- Respondents that were asked to take on the CHRO role routinely turned it down, but those who accepted it reported having greater influence on the CEO.
The study's finding that HR has a negative perception among C-suite executives stands out. HR’s struggle for a “seat at the table” with top decision-makers is long-standing and stems from HR historic association with the so-called “soft” or people-oriented side of an organization rather than the revenue side, which senior executives often perceive as more important.
But these days, talent challenges are a top threat to business solvency, which means more companies are looking to HR experts to manage a robust people strategy. HR professionals understand the connection between the bottom line and talent acquisition, employee retention and engagement, and staff development.
Traditional HR professionals acknowledge that understanding financials is crucial to their success as leaders in their organizations. This study also highlights a perpetual challenge for HR executives: convincing other executives that they are critical to the overall sustainability of a business. Take a more strategic approahc has been a challenge for the profession but it is a critically important skill. Good strategy requires solid data gathering and the ability to parse compelling stories out of that data.
Convincing skeptical senior executives of the critical value of CHROs becomes much easier when numbers and data point to a direct bottom-line impact. The good news is that once the argument is successfully made, CHROs report having a greater influence on CEOs. Such influence puts them in a position to potentially effect real organizational change from the top down.