What are your biggest concerns as an HR leader today–in your organization, your industry and the profession at large?
Bersin: I have no concerns about the HR profession’s ability to adapt and evolve. What I do worry about is the role our unstable political systems and economic systems will play and how fast we in business can “catch up” and “fix” problems that are endemic to our economy. Almost every major HR strategy today (employee experience, better service delivery, focus on wellbeing) is a reaction to stress created by the economy, technology or consumer lives. We, as HR and business leaders, can’t really affect these things–we just have to react to them. I also am concerned that CEOs are just barely beginning to understand the role that ethics and social values play in their businesses, and investors have to start rewarding us for making companies “better,” not just “high-performing.” I believe we in HR must be the bridge between what society is asking of business and what investors and financial stakeholders want. This is why we need to exhibit courage and continue to be viewed as trusted advisers, so we can be the “conscience” to the CEO in times of uncertain economic and political change.
Burke: Insufficient talent or talent that is not recognized or valued. The irony here is that the easiest function to replicate with artificial intelligence is accounting and finance, yet it is the highest-paid function, whereas the HR function is the most difficult to replicate with AI, yet it is the lowest paid of the various functions in the workplace. Paying HR people more with accompanying status would help but is not sufficient. Job rotation with highly talented managers coming through HR positions for a couple of years would help considerably. One organization I know has a policy of promoting from within, about 80%, and the CHRO role is occupied, on a rotating basis, with top executives from functions other than HR.
Goldsmith: The impact of the technology revolution on employment, and as a result, on society. As HR executives, we have an opportunity (and obligation) to boldly lead during this uncertain era. Also, productivity and business health during this revolution. Operating effectively and efficiently will be particularly challenging. Finally, responding adequately to the changing notion of what a business must be/do to attract and retain workers and customers … purposeful, responsible, political and more.
Spriggs: We as a function still have an uphill battle around credibility at the senior leadership table mostly driven by lack of financial acumen. Second, we focus on measuring too many activities for the sake of metrics, rather than achieving results. Lastly, CHROs must learn to lead with the business objectives first, then craft the appropriate HR solution that recognizes the needs and value of people.
McGuiness: The high degree of turnover today in the ranks of senior corporate executives, particularly HR heads. It is difficult for any corporate leader to work on policy issues external to the organization unless there is some level of job security.