Is Chief People Officer the New Most Important Job Title?

A business is nothing without its people. That’s why so many companies place such importance on providing their employees with the best benefits, perks, and support to help them thrive in their positions.  

These days, however, many companies are going one step farther and adding a new position: Chief People Officer, the official culture champion.  

The Chief People Officer (CPO) title is relatively new and has only become more common in the last decade. As companies switch to hybrid and remote work as a result of the pandemic, developing strategies for keeping employees engaged and feeling appreciated while working remotely is critical.  

That’s where the CPO comes in, working with the CEO and other executives to help attract and retain top talent.  

Whether your company already has a CPO or is considering adding a culture champion to the C-suite, it’s important to understand exactly what function this position plays in the larger structure of your organization.  

What is a Chief People Officer? 

A Chief People Officer is similar to the role of the Chief Human Resources Officer. Both focus on employee engagement and experience, are part of the executive or leadership team, and report directly to the company’s CEO.  

However, a CPO focuses more on recruitment strategy, especially the hiring and onboarding process. They often advise other executives on how to improve employee engagement but may also be the one to execute new strategies and solutions within the company.  

A CPO is dedicated to ensuring that employees want to stick around and are invested in the company’s mission and growth.  

A Chief People Officer may also have a different title, depending on the company’s focus and needs. Some similar titles include: 

  • Chief Talent Officer 
  • Director of People Services 
  • Head of People & Talent 
  • Vice President of Talent 

No matter what the role is called in your company, the goal of a CPO is to find the best people for each position and make sure they have the support they need to do their work and stay engaged with both their individual responsibilities and the company. 

What does a Chief People Officer do?  

Each company has its own needs and business objectives, and the Chief People Officer job description will reflect these goals. But in general, a CPO’s main role is to develop and implement the organization’s “people strategy.” They look for new ways to approach talent development and retainment and focus on issues like: 

  • Work-life balance 
  • Providing opportunities for career growth and development 
  • Implementing new technologies and taking advantage of new resources 
  • Encouraging and supporting team leaders 
  • Creating the type of work environment (whether in office or remote) where talent wants to participate

A CPO’s duties will vary depending on the specific organization’s needs, but overall, they work to prioritize people and help individuals succeed. Instead of reacting to employee complaints, the CPO works to stay in communication with team members and be proactive about changes that can improve the employee experience for every person on staff.  

A person interested in fulfilling the role of Chief People Officer should have a wide range of skills–both in human resources, and business strategy and development. They should also: 

  • Be a strong communicator 
  • Have soft skills like emotional intelligence, curiosity, and flexibility 
  • Enjoy and be skilled at problem-solving 
  • Possess a proven track record of management expertise 
  • Know how to lead a team effectively 

How does a CPO help a business succeed? 

You’ve probably heard it said that people are a company’s greatest asset. No matter what products or services your company offers, nothing would get done without your various teams’ hard work and dedication and their ability to work together.  

A Chief People Officer puts your people at the forefront of your business strategy. They listen to employees and monitor their needs and wants, making sure that the compensation and benefits packages are competitive enough to attract new talent and to encourage existing talent to stay with your organization. 

As part of the executive leadership team, the CPO understands both what employees need and what the business needs to succeed, and they work to find solutions that benefit both sides. They’re an advocate for employees, as well as an executive who understands the organization’s goals and values.  

The CPO is responsible for a wide variety of tasks that affect every part of the business, including: 

  • Strategically thinking about recruitment, hiring, and retention
  • Developing employee care programs to boost happiness and engagement 
  • Ensuring that employees feel appreciated
  • Providing coaching and leadership training  
  • Reviewing and adjusting compensation and benefits packages 
  • Advising executives on human resources issues   

Are there other new(ish) roles like the Chief People Officer? 

The world of work has changed a lot in the last few years and will likely continue to evolve as both companies and employees adjust to the changes caused by the pandemic and remote work.  

In addition to including roles like the Chief People Officer, companies are choosing to hire multiple executive roles that focus on the needs of their people. 

Some Chief People Officers may also work to develop and implement diversity and inclusion initiatives, but your company may want to have an additional person in place to focus on that issue.  

The VP of Inclusion Strategy, or the Diversity and Inclusion Officer, works with executives and the HR department to implement initiatives focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This can include anything from finding resources for training to educating leadership on fair hiring best practices and implicit bias.  

A Company Culture Officer or Chief Culture Officer is similar to a Chief People Officer, focusing on recruitment and onboarding, but they also play a role in team-building strategies and employee recognition. They know the company’s values and mission backward and forward and work to create an organizational culture that keeps employees engaged and happy.  

The Chief Growth Officer or Vice President of Growth focuses on helping the company thrive and grow. They may work with the CPO to attract new talent and collaborate with the marketing and sales teams to bring in new business. This role is designed to work across departments, prioritizing the business’ growth and finding ways to take the organization to new heights.  

Each of these roles helps a business grow and succeed by meeting the needs of employees and ensuring that the work environment is a thriving, happy one, whether fully remote, hybrid, or in the office.  

While the workplace is changing, the best companies are working hard to maintain a positive employee experience by adding roles like the Chief People Officer. To retain top talent, it’s critical to prioritize employee needs and engagement. After all, a company is nothing without its people!