What is keeping Chief People Officers up at night in 2018?

“The world is changing. We all know this. And as that world changes, if you don't transform your company, you're stuck.” – Ursula Burns, former CEO, Xerox and Board Director, Uber

Same to be said for how we recruit, develop and retain the most critical asset to our businesses: talent.


The workplace is transforming and “survival of the fittest” dictates that companies that thrive in tomorrow’s workplace will be those that successfully adapted. We could bore you with the research correlating employee happiness and business profitability – but truth is, you already know this.


Chief People Officers (also known as Chief HR Officers) spend their waking and sleeping hours thinking about how to evolve their recruitment, engagement and retention strategies to the ever-changing workplace. Why? Because these strategies will make or break their businesses. To keep it all the way real, we wanted to share some direct insights from this esteemed group of experts.

So, let’s get to it shall we? Starting with hiring…


Brandon Atkinson, Roviant Sciences


Brandon, Chief People Officer of Roviant Sciences and a former Operations Executive at high growth organizations like Opsware and AppNexus, brings a unique insight into hiring a team of technical people. Recruiting and cultivating the right talent is perhaps the biggest competitive advantage a company can have. “My biggest worry is just being able to bring top talent to the company,” said Brandon.


“As a smaller organization, it is often hard to compete on compensation packages with some of the typical tech giants,” said Brandon. However, he added that, “candidates are asking more and more about the non-financial benefits of joining the company.” These benefits include an array of things from development opportunities all the way to robust employee interest groups. “We have to be prepared to answer those questions and provide programming that meets their expectations,” said Brandon.


But once they get in the door, how do you create a differentiated employee experience to retain them?


Maintaining Engagement

Meg Makalou, The Climate Corporation


Your dream candidate has accepted the offer. She onboards and gets started. Things are going incredibly well, and she is exceeding expectations. But how do you keep her?

“It’s one thing to get them to join, but how do you keep them engaged?” said Meg Makalou, Chief People Officer of The Climate Corporation. In chatting with Meg, it really seems there are two aspects to this: (1) talent mobility and (2) connectedness.

“Top talent in organizations of much greater size have the opportunity to rotate through several types of roles; they can essentially have multiple careers in one company. It is hard to compete with that,” said Meg. Also, once we have them in their roles, “how do you build scalable opportunities to create those connections in a company that is growing quickly?”

A 2017 HBR article on Work and the Loneliness Epidemic shared that “designing and modeling a culture that supports connection is more important than any single (employee) program.”

Companies seem to be experimenting with solutions to both issues. But here’s the next question: how do you ensure that you’re growing leaders who can have substantial impact on the organization?

# of Leaders << # of Managers

Colleen McCreary, Credit Karma

As people grow in an organization, it is quite common for them to get larger roles, get more direct reports and have greater responsibility. But does having a team automatically make you a leader?

Nope, it does not.


In fact, Colleen McCreary, Chief People Officer at Credit Karma, shared, “there’s a difference between managers and leadership; I frequently seem to be short on leaders relative to manager, no matter where I’ve worked.” When I asked if training was the secret sauce to creating leaders in the organization, Colleen responded, “sometimes its training, but usually it’s experience, confidence, being willing to take risks – being willing to voice an unpopular opinion.“


Of great leaders and the new workplace, Renelle Darr of the Forbes Coaches Council wrote, “humans who embrace wellness, emotional intelligence and conscious growth become leaders and employees capable of working in new ways. Conscious leaders are able to look at the strategy and processes within an organization and begin shifting them by flattening hierarchies and empowering people to bring all of their gifts, talents and values to work. It is these types of cultures where employees not only find meaning at work but produce extraordinary results.”


In summary, the new workplace experience is one where employees feel included, developed and connected. Salary was once the main advantage of one job vs. another, but we’re now seeing a workplace evolve where connectedness, professional opportunities and the strength of leaders is the primary consideration.

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