CHRO Survey Reveals Rapid Evolution Required

Rodney HessBy Rodney Hess
December 15th, 2023 • 2 Minutes

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Insights from Mercer’s 2023 Voice of the CHRO Survey

The modern Chief Human Resources Officer role has undergone rapid evolution, creating a perfect storm of skills gaps and rising demands that leave many HR leaders overwhelmed from day one. A recent survey by Mercer of over 150 executives exposes critical development gaps that must be addressed for CHROs to steer their functions through unprecedented disruption. 

Key Statistics Reveal Shifting Demands

The statistics detail how the CHRO role has fundamentally transformed, requiring reevaluation of how these strategic C-suite partners are developed early on. While most new CHROs feel prepared, 41% wish they had greater expertise in non-HR areas like finance, operations and manufacturing to better collaborate across the executive team. Many also wanted improved data analytics skills (41%) and boardroom influence abilities (39%). This shows CHROs need to quickly learn on the job and adapt.

Disconnects with Boards and C-Suite

There is also a disconnect many first-year CHROs face with boards and fellow executives. 69% wish they better partnered with boards originally, and over 20% want to improve relationships with other C-level leaders. Earlier exposure to boards and executives could build critical relationships and cross-functional knowledge to enable enterprise-wide collaboration and combat senior isolation.

Call for Stronger Community

The call for more community reveals an emerging trend—the era of siloed CHROs is coming to an end. Mentorship is viewed as vital, with 73% saying it would aid acclimation. Over half also want peer networks and over 40% desire executive coaching to further development.

Expanding Technology and Data Demands

As work transforms through technology, over 60% of CHROs acknowledge needing greater technical expertise as their role expands. Though few wished more original HR tech knowledge, over 75% now see it as essential to increase efficiency, spark innovation and strengthen strategic business partnership.

Proliferating data also compels CHROs to increase data analytics skills to properly guide decisions, identify talent patterns and performance drivers. Those not data-proficient must focus on building analytics-capable teams to unlock insights improving talent efforts.

Addressing Development Gaps

CHROs recognize critical gaps in their own development plus building technology and data expertise within their functions. The survey shows rethinking CHRO readiness is vital as HR transforms and the role evolves to meet rising demands. 60% cite building leadership capability as a top challenge, along with overcoming negative HR perceptions (49%) and accelerating team skills (42%).

These problems underscore the need to reevaluate career development paths to prepare for swelling expectations. Strengthening CHRO networking, increasing C-suite, board and cross-functional interactions can enhance effectiveness and elevate HR’s profile. Executive coaching and simulations can provide vital learning as well.

Rapid evolution compels HR leaders to significantly expand skills. Pure passion, while still important, no longer satisfies the increasing demands of an integral strategic function. The time has come to reimagine CHRO development for a new era.

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