The Role Of A Chief People Officer

The role of a Chief People Officer (CPO) is one of the hottest topics of debate in the world right now. Organizations need to understand that the world of work right now demands them to have someone onboard who can help them reshape their HR policies for employee retention, performance management, and compensation amongst other things. They need to move with the tide and find themselves a Chief People Officer who can address glaring concerns in their HR function and work towards getting everything on track. 

According to The Future of Job report of the World Economic Forum, the world is expected to witness the displacement of a staggering 75 million jobs due to advancement in technology by the end of the year 2022. At the same, the report also predicts that a significant shift in skills will result in the creation of more than 130 million job roles in the period spanning 2018 and 2022. These figures and the findings of other studies emphasize the importance of investing in human resource development for organizations.

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The constant development in technology and the rise in the data growth are having a huge impact on how organizations usually think about HR development. If they don’t want to suffer from talent shortage and make their workforce competent enough to face the challenges of the future, they need to find people in the high-level executive positions who are willing to contribute towards human resource development. This could require executives to undergo change in responsibilities or take up a few new ones.

Businesses nowadays are finding it very difficult to convince their existing employees to stay. It is becoming even more difficult for them to attract the level of talent that they are looking for to fill open positions. A Chief People Officer promises to be the answer to all the questions that organizations have regarding retention and recruitment of talent. The role of a Chief People Officer has already undergone significant changes and is expected to experience more amendments in the future. A CPO is not only expected to handle basic HR management functions anymore. Organizations are also investing in them so that they can help them build an organization structure that is both strong and flexible at the same time. CPOs are also expected to prepare employees in a way that they can easily counter disruptions in the future. They are expected to lead upskilling and learning programs within the organization. 

The role of a Chief People Officer is just a decade or so old. It has grown in popularity over the last few years due to several reasons. The first reason is the increase in the expectations of employees from their employers. The other important reason that can be considered a result of the first one is the need of employers to deliver exceptional experiences to employees, in order to retain them. The role of a CPO is still expected to undergo massive transformations as the world gears up for a world of work beyond the pandemic. A study conducted by HR People + Strategy (SHRM Executive Network) and Willis Towers Watson on more than 500 executives revealed that about 99% of these executives believed that CPOs need to be agile in order to mould themselves according to the demands of employees. About 35% of these executives also said that most of the CPOs are not getting the learning and upskilling they need to be successful in such an important role for an organization. 

Amongst the biggest responsibilities of a Chief People Officer is to identify talent and skill sets that are currently in demand as well as those whose demand has declined over the last few years. However, with changing business dynamics, this job isn’t as easy to perform as it seems. The CPO, in order to overcome this challenge, will have to focus on how a constant shift in skill sets is responsible for an inadequate and incompetent workforce. They will not only have to find the areas where this shift is taking place but also communicate this to the management and work along with them to recruit suitable talent as well as train and upskill those that are a part of this shift.

The Chief People Officer is expected to create a culture that is based on learning and growth. They are supposed to make learning a part of the daily routine of every employee. The learning could happen in the form of online micro-learning courses or blended ones. CPOs can also use the more traditional forms of upskilling and learning, such as mentorship programs, face-to-face learning, or peer-to-peer learning programs. There is no one-size-fits-all learning solution. It is important for CPOs to consider all these methods and more and choose the most suitable one on merit. Generally, blended learning methods are found to be the best ones considering the flexibility they bring for the learners. These are online learning modules that allow employees to work on their skills and learn new things at the time and place of their convenience. The Chief People Officer can choose any of these learning methods or a mix of these to improve the learning culture within an organization. 

The responsibilities of a Chief People Officer don’t end here. They are also expected to understand the role of technology in helping their respective organizations achieve their short-term as well as long-term business objectives. They are required to come up with innovative plans to tackle challenges, react to demands, and make the most of opportunities. For this to happen, a Chief People Officer needs to have a forward-thinking approach that can help them in creating value for their organization.


  • Chief People Officers: Are They Ready for the Future of Work? | HR Technologist | Chiradeep BasuMallick | May 11, 2020 
  • Emergence of the Chief People Officer: Upskilling and Learning at the Core | SimpliLearn | February 18, 2021

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