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Leadership priorities for Chief Human Resource Officers in 2021 and beyond

The C-Suite: 2021 and Beyond

What’s changed for Chief Human Resources Officers?

People Leaders are having to plan for future working models that are likely to be hybrid, with organisations building new safeguards to address the risks of both in-person and remote working.

As the transition to remote working continues to drive automation and digitalisation, HR plans are focusing on re-skilling the current workforce and shifting investments towards digital channels and tools. Employee engagement strategies have become a particularly crucial topic when dealing with remote teams.

The pandemic has placed the well-being and health of people at the centre of organisational strategy, leading to an expansion in mental health support and emphasising management of the ‘whole life’ experience of employees rather than just the employment experience.

CHRO Mega Themes

New Human Relationships

Human relationships within organisations have grown, with organisations flexing in news ways to improve how people work, how they are supported and the expectations and reward.

Empowered & Successful Cultures

HR has a leading role to play in the future of work, how performance is achieved to ensure successful outcomes, within a resilient and empowering culture. This new culture must enhance communication, collaboration, agility and innovation.

Purposeful Leadership

Business leaders, including the CHRO, now look at people as individuals rather than a workforce and they are corralling these individuals to a better articulated and clearer purpose.

Journey to the New Normal

HR is leading the journey to the new normal and has the rare ability to create a better future, making sweeping changes to employee engagement, talent management, diversity and inclusion, equality and physical and mental well-being.

Baggage & Focus

CHROs should focus on what helps achieve the purpose and have the courage to drop old baggage that holds back the speed of development.
Explore these themes further at one of our Chief Human Resources Officer Network events


“COVID has been a catalyst for a more human relationship between organisations and their employees. From working locations to diversity, inclusion and the future of work, leaders and businesses need to treat people as individuals, and support them to be at their best in a way that is aligned to the purpose of the organisation.

Work and the role of the office is changing, and the People Function should be leading these agendas to help organisations be successful and resilient.”

Danielle Harmer, Aviva Chief HR Officer

Danny Harmer, Chief People Officer, Aviva

CHRO Challenges & Opportunities 2021

As Chief HR Officers lead their teams through 2021 and beyond, what are the key challenges they must confront and what opportunities can they exploit?
  1. Board and top team succession planning

  2. Rightsizing the business and scenario planning

  3. Employee engagement and new working strategies

  4. Managing relations with the CEO, Board & Stakeholders

  5. Driving diversity, inclusion and changing attitudes

  6. Internal competency reviews, development and supporting tools.

Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD)

“In 2021, leaders must have respect and empathy for the individuals they lead because each person’s challenges through the pandemic have been unique to them.

Businesses have had to change, many have struggled to survive, all have probably introduced new (digital) processes for customers and their people.

Leaders must continue with the best of what has changed and have the courage to throw away the worst of the past, to prosper and create a world where working lives are more inclusive, caring and fairer.”

Louise Fisher, Chair, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) 2015-21

Louise Fisher, Chair, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) 2015-21

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It’s time for the C-Suite to look beyond ‘normal’. Time to build a resilient organisation with a purpose, business model, skills, resources and strategic direction fit for the new future. Find out how C-Suite leaders are prioritising their leadership agenda.

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