New Role Insight: Chief People Officer
This year three companies, all with a significant global presence, have introduced a new C-level role into their organisations. Classic fashion house Burberry, online retailer Bonobos and e-commerce company Jet.com, have all invested in the creation of a Chief People Officer (CPO) position. This has raised the question: what is a CPO and what are the benefits of having one?
Many professionals and business analysts have been quick to point out that the CPO role sounds much like the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) role in a rebranded hat. As both fulfil the over-arching position of responsibility for all things HR, this could be a fair point. However, given the amount of talent, experience and commitment on offer from individuals taking up this new role, it might prove foolhardy to dismiss the concept too quickly.
Creating a Compelling and Engaging Employment Culture
Those companies and individuals championing the concept argue that the CPO goes much further than HR. With younger generations reporting the importance of working for a company with a compelling and engaging culture, and only 17% of companies recognising that they have such an identity, a disparity becomes clear. High turnover rates, reduced employee engagement and reduced productivity are all symptoms of an unengaged workforce. These are traditionally issues the CHRO faces, but without the role scope to fully engage with the people, many initiatives fall short of achieving their desired effect.
The new CPOs report directly to the CEOs. The development of an attractive company culture with which employees and potential employees want to engage becomes a goal with specific objectives – one that is considered alongside other company goals and not as an aspect of administration. With 79% of companies reporting a significant talent-retention problem, it is obvious this loss of top talent and the accompanying cost of hiring and training hits businesses in the bottom line.
Keeping the Start-Up Momentum Going
When we think of companies with excellent company cultures, start-ups and the internet leaders spring to mind. The passion that these businesses create within their workforce is based on the shared feelings of achieving something new and brilliant. The products the employees deliver are desirable, and they work with the best brains in the business, experience unparalleled levels of trust and can take ownership of their achievements.
However, as these companies grow, they must ask how they can keep this going. It’s not just a case of buying more ping-pong tables. As the company grows, so the culture must evolve. This is why the role of the CPO was first seen in places like Silicon Valley, where competition to secure the best and the brightest can mean the difference between success and failure.
CPO Attitude in Every Company
The philosophy behind the CPO can’t be ignored. With a new socially conscious workforce aware of their own brand significance as much as that of their company’s, a desirable company culture is increasingly considered to be essential.
Those companies that fail to recognise that their employees chose their company because of its culture and impact on their own brand identity may find themselves in a very unenviable position. In an increasingly competitive employment market, these are all issues we need to acknowledge.