The Role of the CEO in HR and Talent Acquisition Today

December 20, 2018 – Talent management has reached new heights. It’s value across the enterprise has elevated to unprecedented levels of importance – a direct correlation to the state of the employment market but also, arguably, the natural evolution and elevation of human resources.

The innovation and widespread adoption of HR technology across the human capital ecosystem has sophisticated the talent acquisition and management landscape. Even the front-line role of the recruiter has elevated beyond measure – now, they are employment branders and strategists, and they’re equipped with more data and capacity than ever before. This is enhancing their value in the enterprise and optimizing talent acquisition results, capabilities and deliverables.

So, what does all of this have to do with the c-suite? Effectively and efficiently running a business, leveraging technology, and making strategic decisions remain top priorities for today’s executives – but so, too, is human capital management.

What once may have been handled solely by the human resources department of yesteryear has officially made its way to the c-suite – in importance and in relevance for executives.

2018 Snapshot: Where We Are

The last time the unemployment rate was this low Neil Armstrong was landing on the moon and gas cost 35 cent per gallon. Salaries are rising, the talent market is getting tighter, and the value and importance of having a strong employment brand and strategy is increasing. Ultimately, however, a company’s culture, employment value proposition (EVP), and the people these attract starts at the top.

Given the state of the market, talent management and many of the responsibilities thought once solely to live within HR have migrated over to the CEO agenda.

Despite all of the advances in HR technology and the fact that talent remains one of the most powerful predictors of business performance, it’s still not something a lot of businesses are getting right. According to Gallup research, companies are failing to choose the candidate with the right skills for the job 82 percent of the time, presenting a major concern for HR but also the business at large.

Of the top concerns plaguing today’s CEO are “HR issues” like reskilling and how technology will be used to create clear pathways for employees to contribute more to the enterprise. In PwC’s 21st CEO survey, they describe today’s executive as “the anxious optimist in the corner office.”  Globalization and technology continue to top environmental concerns the c-suite is navigating, but so are these less-than-typical “HR issues” CEOs are responsible for and that impact so much of what the business is able to accomplish.

Rather than dismiss talent management as an HR problem or a key initiative for TA teams to figure out, informed CEOs understand that employee engagement, growth and development start with them.

The Head of Business and Human Resources

By convention, the search for, and management of, top-tier talent has sat securely within the human resources department. But, given the talent market and the increasing need for accountability in these critical areas of business performance and success, such changes have prompted CEOs to assume more active participation in talent management. Making skilled workers feel valued and appreciated – where career pathing and access to opportunities across the enterprise are made clearly visible – is an important executive message, and it’s a tone that is set by the CEO.

If the Chief People Officer or Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) is not in the boardroom, they should be. Second to managing the P&L, creating human capital strategies has become the most significant responsibility of the CEO – trumping marketing new products, turning around struggling business units, and even general operations management. The most effective CEOs have a clear view of their present and future talent needs – and they have it mapped out for at least the next five years. They have implemented talent management processes to uncover gaps at all levels and have aligned their business and talent management strategies as one.

Human capital has far-reaching implications – and its impact is affecting virtually everything coming out of the corner office. Having the right person in coveted positions, like the CHRO – just like all positions within the enterprise – is increasingly more important.

By Lisa Maxwell

Lisa Maxwell is the founder and managing partner of executive search firm Gerard Stewart. She is the staffing industry leader in executive search — from CEOs to board members and other c-suite executive roles. Lisa’s hyperfocus on the human capital management and talent acquisition ecosystem has allowed her to become an authority in the leadership needs and demands of today’s staffing, RPO, MSP, HR outsourcing and HR technology firms. Since its inception in 2015, Lisa has consistently been named to Staffing Industry Analysts’ Global Power 100 Women in Staffing. 

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