CHROs: Companies Are Unprepared to Replace Us

If you’re a chief human resource officer, you probably already know that there’s a 50/50 chance your organization doesn’t have your replacement ready to go in the event you find a new job.

Indeed, only half of CHROs believe that their companies have a “ready-now” successor should they leave their job, according to a new survey of almost 400 CHROs and HR leaders by executive search firm Salveson Stetson Group.

While eight out of 10 of those surveyed said they are satisfied with their jobs, 61 percent said they would leave for the right opportunityand that makes this succession gap even more troubling.

“As the demand for strategic HR leadership grows, it is crucial for employers to both take note of their HR leaders’ job satisfaction and have a formal succession plan in place,” said Sally Stetson, co-founder and principal. “HR plays a key element in executing a company’s business strategy, so ensuring that your company has a capable leader in place has never been more important.”

The survey of 382 regional HR executivesthose making more than $200,000 annually and handling senior management responsibilities for their employerswas conducted online and included respondents from financial services, general services, life sciences, manufacturing and retail sectors. Thirty-one percent of the HR leaders worked for companies with 1,000 to 5,000 employees, 23 percent for companies with 250 to 1,000 employees and 22 percent at companies with 10,000-plus.

When it came to choosing reasons why they’d take a new job elsewhere, 20 percent of the HR leaders said company culture was the top reason they would accept a new position. When asked to identify the most fulfilling aspects of their current role, they cited job responsibilities (46 percent), workplace environment (15 percent) and relationship with their bosses (14 percent).

The HR profession has evolved greatly over the past several years, making the CHRO position increasingly complex, said John Salveson, the search firm’s other co-founder and principal. And as more HR leaders join the C-suite, he added, CEOs must better understand the unique demands CHROs face and create an environment that is both stimulating and rewarding for them.

“Regardless of how highly regarded a CHRO may be, the potential to lose that executive to another company is real and sometimes unavoidable,” Salveson said. “Only a well-thought-out succession plan mitigates the risk of this loss given the true impact that strong HR leaders have on their organizations.”

Michael J. O'Brien
Michael J. O’Brien is former web editor with Human Resource Executive®.