Never underestimate your HR Director or Chief People Officer

HRs are at the forefront of the Covid-19 crisis

If we cast our minds back to the financial crisis of 2007/8 a good CFO could save your company; a poor one, well that might have spelt doom.  During the current crisis the role of your HR Director or Chief People Officer is going to be key to your success.

HR, whilst now sitting on the board much more than ever before (but often seen as the ‘softer’ side of the business) is needed now, more than ever, to drive organisations through this incredibly difficult period.  The role now is not only to look after the health and well-being of its people but deliver home/remote-working for hundreds and thousands of employees and also be responsible for making some of the most difficult decisions to be made – who stays and who is laid off.  Suffice to say, as I can attest to personally, they are a little busy right now.

The role of HR has come a long way – once it was about pay and ensuring there were enough supplies but over the years HR’s role has increased in importance and become much more strategic.  Now it plays a pivotal role in pay, recruitment, engagement and more.  Given that four fifths of CEOs now worry about skills shortages and knowledge drain (up from around 50% in 2012), HR now often resides right next to the CEO.

Given this new-found position within organisations, expectations have changed as well.  No longer is HR the home of those with mere labour relationship skills.  Using new techniques, data and feedback means that HR supports, drive change and increases in performance and the bottom line in businesses like never before. 

Given the Covid-19 situation, HR leaders are tasked with an ever-changing array of needs and requirements, from not only working from home but how they support their people during times of crisis and where they are worrying about their family and loved ones.  HRs are required to walk that fine balance between what an organisation professes to be (many organisations for example will have a set of values and behaviours that define how they will treat their people with decency, respect and fairness) and profit.

Good HR people can help the organisation flex and deal with situations such as these head on, they can help define and reorganise work streams, who needs to do what and when and also how.  They have the ability to redeploy people who may initially seem redundant in this new way of working.  This is where HR can make or break an organisation.

The savvy and more long-sighted HR person will see this as an opportunity and challenge, will look beyond the current situation to what is coming – in all likelihood we won’t go back to the way we were.

Find out more about how we can help, email is best at the moment gary.cattermole@surveyinitiative.co.uk and I’ll call you back at a convenient time (I’m juggling, like everyone, with working from home and looking after the family!).