May 4th 2022

Why HR needs a seat in the C-suite

If a company is only as good as the people within it, why don’t we show more love for the HR department?

Today’s boardroom table has a place for heads from operations, IT, and marketing, yet despite its critical role, HR is still seen as a supporting act. Companies are suffering as a result.

HR stepped up to the plate during the pandemic, helping us to navigate remote working, and ensuring we stayed as healthy and productive as possible through times of huge disruption.

But despite showing its worth, half (58%) of business leaders still see HR as an administrator, not a value driver – a view shared by just 26% of CHROs. HR teams received salary increases of just 1.9% in 2020 – lower than the UK average of 2.32%.

The discrepancies reflect an undervaluing of HR that has gone on for far too long.

The power of the CHRO

Research shows that companies that understand what HR brings to the table have a brighter outlook on the future. They’re more likely to embrace new technologies to realise that future, and are expected to lose fewer workers as the post-Covid recovery continues.

Further reasons for electing a Chief HR Officer include:

  • Clearer communication

According to CEOs, organisational complexity, employee burnout and poor skills are the three main challenges that businesses face in the near future, IBM research finds.

On the other hand, most (84%) of CHROs cite workforce agility and flexibility as the main problem areas, and just 19% of HR executives feel their department’s function has the capacity to follow through CHRO intentions.

Such a disconnect can only blunt competitive edge. However, having HR in the board room will allow companies to get clarity, reconcile ambition with ability, and leverage resources to best effect.

  • Care-coordinated strategy

“A company is only as good as its people,” says US entrepreneur Kathryn Minshew.

“The hard part is actually building the team that will embody your company culture and propel you forward,” she adds.

HR is the enabler of this power – the designer of the people-first environment upon which success depends, and this reality impacts on the bottom line: firms that applied “more positive sentiment on their human capital” found themselves financially stronger as we emerged from the global health crisis.

  • Heartbeat of the modern workforce

The “Great Resignation” is about professionals seeking healthier, more flexible working lifestyles. Businesses are responding by creating supportive, empathetic infrastructures that put wellbeing first.

Studies prove this evolution, with 68% of senior HR leaders (40% of which are CHROs) stating that wellbeing and mental health are top priorities.

Companies without HR at board level risk losing focus of staff wellness, undermining the employment proposition, and ultimately putting off the best talent.

  • Diversity and Inclusion

The long-overdue push for greater Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is bringing more knowledge, awareness and experience to organisations of all sizes – enrichment that allows us all to grow.

Firms with over 30% more women executives “outperform companies where the percentage ranges from 10 to 30”, and the chances of higher performance are greater for diversity in ethnicity than for gender, Mckinsey research finds.

Without question, D&I is a board room topic, but its sensitive issues need to be handled by HR. CHROs and Chief Diversity Officers are required here to oversee “reviews of policy, leadership and culture” at the company’s highest level.

The path to the C-suite

HR demonstrably brings enterprise-wide value, and this worth is only going to enhance as firms get a foothold in global markets, post-pandemic.

HR’s dialogue at C-suite level must be directly linked with business drivers, with CHROs able to show how employee-based strategies will result in measurable gains.

By explaining key messages in jargon-free ways, an HR executive will have assessments taken into account far more readily, helping to inform plans that nourish the enterprise and those within it.

As with all departments, data-driven insight will be decisive in ensuring HR’s perspective is communicated efficiently.

Break out

Leading up to the pandemic, UK insurer, Aviva changed its mission statement to: “With you today, for a better tomorrow.”

The vision “shifted how the business engages with and perceives the HR function”, which in turn “gained a stronger seat at the top of the house [and] a stronger reputation and brand within the broader organisation,” says Aviva’s people’s services director, Darren Cornish.

Under this new direction, Aviva was able to maintain productivity and allow employees to discover ways to be more flexible with work patterns, enhancing the value of both teams and the company.

We must show the same respect for colleagues and allow HR to break out of traditional silos. The C-suite will be rewarded with renewed visibility, intelligence, and a more sophisticated understanding of its people.

At HR Spectrum, we know that through collaboration with individuals and companies who you know and trust, you can achieve smoother, more effective workflows and lasting success. 

To find out more about the fantastic opportunities available through HR Spectrum, contact us today.


Close popup

Send us your CV
(We’ll do the rest)

To get started, fill in the form below:

Thank you for choosing HR Spectrum in your HR job search.

You’re in good hands.

We’ll review your CV, contact you (where necessary, to meet and understand your preferences and requirements) and let you know when a suitable opportunity becomes available.