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by Cory Kruse, President, Orion Talent

It’s no exaggeration to say that over the last 18 months HR and its leaders have had to become centers of business innovation and transformation. How are they doing and keeping pace with the constant change and challenge of a work world remade? That was our question at Orion Talent when we formed the CHRO Roundtable this spring to bring bright CHRO leaders together to share strategies for taking care of people and business.

For the first time, the CHRO Roundtable met at the end of June, providing a powerful look at the issues on the minds of today’s leaders and how they are managing them. As this group grows and gathers, we will share major themes and creative ideas discussed to help all HR leaders navigate the way forward. Here’s your first peek at what’s on the minds and agendas of CHRO innovators right now.

1. Recruiting Talent Is Simply Harder

Shocking no one, every CHRO, no matter the size of the company or industry, reported challenges in finding and hiring talent. On the recruitment front, the roundtable attendees agreed that one of the most important efforts they are making is expanding into new talent pools, pushing beyond established networks, and looking at new schools, community partners, and networking organizations to access new talent sources. Sourcing with new creativity and determination will be critical to filling jobs.

2. Retention Is Just as Hard

As hard as recruiting has become, retention is equally hard. From early retirements to pandemic-related relocations, CHROs saw plenty of turnover during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the return to offices is another trend driving new turnover as employees seek to maintain the benefits of remote work.

To counteract the talent exodus, CHROs spoke of focusing on early talent (those newer hires with fewer years invested in the company) by providing support, development, coaching, and other opportunities. This effort is seen as essential to balancing the growing number of retirements in the Baby Boom generation. Another important effort several are undertaking is coaching managers and business leaders to increase their focus on creating connections with employees right now and checking in regularly. Finding connection to culture and leaders has been hard and this outreach can be an important way to re-engage employees and remind them of their value.

3. Pressure Is High on Entry-level Wages

CHROs agreed that wage pressure for their entry-level roles is intense. Most have had to increase entry-level pay rates due to the competition for talent. That, in turn, has meant having to manage internal wage adjustments as employees see new hires coming in at higher rates.

To counter the wage pressure some CHROs are working to ensure new hires understand the full career and growth opportunities within the organization. From skill development to exposure to new roles and tech, helping entry-level workers see long-term opportunities and value has been helpful in winning talent beyond the wage war.

4. Changing Minds at the Top

Another common issue among CHROs today is the challenge of helping senior-most leaders (CEOs, Presidents, Owners) see how important remote work arrangements still are for a substantial segment of the workforce. Several CHROs spoke about the importance of convincing leaders of the need to extend or adopt remote work policies to address the deluge of employees asking to stay fully or partially remote.

One way they are succeeding is by ensuring that nothing is set in stone. Just as so many solutions over the last year had to be developed off the cuff, CHROs in the roundtable discussed the need to continue to pivot around remote options to address the changing landscape. The key is to avoid promising long-term solutions to employees or leaders. One HR leader referred to it as using this current time as a trial period, adjusting, and adapting remote solutions to ensure they are “fit for purpose” rather than created in panic.

5. Face-to-Face is Back

The lack of in-person time has been hard on organizations and their people. For that reason, many CHROs are starting to get back out on the road and holding in-person town halls and roundtable events. Finding ways to reconnect with people and get face-to-face time can reinforce company values, give employees sounding boards, and provide valuable insight into what employees are looking for from HR, managers, and the business.

More to Come

Watch for more CHRO insights and advice in the months ahead. In the meantime, if you are interested in joining the CHRO roundtable to share ideas and network with peers, let us know. And, if you would like help addressing any of the themes to come out of this roundtable, you can contact us here.

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