CHROs: Time For A New Conversation

Estelle Lagorce

HR now has a seat at the C-suite table. But does it have a voice at that table? And how can the chief human resource officer (CHRO) take the lead in guiding the business forward?

In the fourth of our series of blogs on HR transformation, we share the thoughts of Erica Volini, leader of Deloitte Consulting LLP’s HR Transformation Practice.

Erica Volini

Erica recently joined a panel of fellow HR experts on “CHROs – Time for a New Conversation,” on the Web-based business talk radio series called “Changing the Game with HR” presented by SAP. Here are some of the highlights of what Erica had to say.

The opportunity for CHROs to take the lead

In today’s world of disruption, HR has an opportunity to do something truly impactful in a way that they haven’t been able to before. But it goes way beyond just getting a seat at the table or playing a strategic role with the business. HR now has an opportunity to take the lead. CHROs are asking themselves, “Do we have the right team, the right capabilities? Do we have the right support? Do we have the right infrastructure to be able to go and do it?” If they have all of that in place, I think a bold CHRO stands up and says, “I can take the lead, and I can take the lead on behalf of the whole organization, not just for HR.”

Bonus: Download the Deloitte Global Trends 2016 ‘Transforming HR’ report (registration required)

Digital isn’t just about technology

Defining what digital means is one of the most challenging tasks out there for HR buyers today. While it does incorporate aspects such as social, mobile, analytics, and cloud, it needs to be more than that in order to truly make an impact on the business. Achieving digital HR is about integrating the latest trends and incorporating them into the end-to-end process to develop the ultimate employee experience.  Without the linkage to process and experience, digital runs the risk of being the latest in a line of new shiny objects to enter the HR space.

That’s why there shouldn’t be a conversation in HR without talking about design thinking – the ability to rethink end-to-end processes from an employee experience standpoint. What does the employee want? What is most important to them? How do you reconstruct the processes that most matter to the employee experience so that it makes sense to them? How do you apply digital technology to it? And then how do you apply analytics to it so you can actually measure the outcomes and the impact? That’s really what design thinking – and the smart use of technology and digital – is about.

Personalize, don’t standardize

There’s a lot of talk about simplicity versus complexity. Many HR leaders are equating this with a move from heavily customized environments to more standard environments. The problem is, moving to a standard environment actually takes us further away from the goal of HR being business-aligned because it limits the ability to demonstrate to the customer that HR is delivering against their needs.

So it’s not about standardization, but personalization: thinking about those moments that truly matter to a given workforce segment and where you need to personalize; where you may need to inject a variation to create a better experience. Not creating complexity for complexity’s sake, and not making it simple just so you can have standardization and create efficiency. Ultimately, the bold CHRO is the one who’s lined up as close to the business as possible without compromising the ability to drive efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation at every turn.

What does the future look like?

“I think the HR competencies in the future will be radically different. HR will be embedded in the business, and we’ll see a lot more rotations of HR and business professionals so that everyone fully understands the people impacts to maximize productivity and move the company forward,” says Volini.

She continues: “Innovation will keep challenging us, and I see an HR world filled with virtual reality where you’re able to use the latest technologies to engage with prospective and current employees, and really up the game on the employee experience.

“I think HR has a seat at the table, and now needs to have a voice at the table. Some HR organizations are there now. If they’re not, they’re going to have to try to get there within the next one to two years. Otherwise they’re going to fall very far behind.”

To find out more about HR transformation trends, priorities, and practices:


Estelle Lagorce

About Estelle Lagorce

Estelle Lagorce is the Director, Global Partner Marketing, at SAP. She leads the global planning, successful implementation and business impact of integrated marketing programs with top global Strategic Partner across priority regions and countries (demand generation, thought leadership).