Chief People Officer

Chief People Officers

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Our guide to the role of Chief People Officer, how it differs from a CHRO, what good looks like and how we can help you find the people leader you have been looking for.

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Jon Webster

Welcome to the Chief People Officers guide, your compass in navigating the complex seas of human resources leadership. Here, we empower organisations to find the right Chief People Officer (CPO) to steer their ship towards success. With over two decades of proven excellence in executive search, we lead the way in hiring diverse talent and accelerating the recruitment process.

Contents

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In the evolving world of business, organisational design has become a crucial aspect of ensuring efficiency and productivity. This guide offers an insight into the importance of organisational design and key principles to consider when designing organisations.

What is a CPO?

A Chief People Officer, or CPO, is the top HR executive in a company. It is a senior executive responsible for overseeing the human resources function within an organisation, focusing on employee development, culture and overall well-being.

Why are CPOs crucial to business success

Chief People Officers (CPOs) are indispensable to business success for several reasons. Firstly, they are instrumental in creating a workplace culture that values and prioritises employee well-being and development. By implementing initiatives such as professional development programmes, mentorship opportunities, and employee wellness initiatives, CPOs contribute to a motivated and engaged workforce.

Secondly, CPOs play a crucial role in talent acquisition and retention. In today’s competitive market, attracting and retaining top talent is essential for business growth and innovation. CPOs develop recruitment strategies that not only attract skilled individuals but also align with the company’s values and culture. Additionally, they implement retention strategies such as competitive compensation packages, career advancement opportunities, and a supportive work environment to ensure that valuable employees stay with the company long-term.

Furthermore, CPOs are champions of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the organisation. They recognise the importance of building diverse teams and fostering an inclusive environment where every employee feels valued and respected. By promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, CPOs enhance employee satisfaction, foster creativity and innovation, and improve overall business performance.

Additionally, CPOs collaborate closely with other senior executives to align HR strategies with the company’s broader goals and objectives. They understand the link between employee engagement, productivity, and business success, and work to ensure that HR initiatives support the company’s strategic direction.

Overall, CPOs are crucial to business success because they focus on nurturing and empowering the company’s most valuable asset: its people. Through their strategic leadership in human resources, they drive employee engagement, attract and retain top talent, foster diversity and inclusion, and ultimately contribute to the achievement of organisational goals and long-term success.

What are the responsibilities of a Chief People Officer? 

The responsibilities of a Chief People Officer (CPO) encompass various aspects of human resources management and strategic leadership. Their duties typically include overseeing recruitment and talent acquisition, developing and implementing training and development programmes, managing employee relations, ensuring compliance with employment laws and regulations, fostering a positive work culture, promoting diversity and inclusion, and aligning HR strategies with the overall goals and objectives of the organisation. CPOs also play a key role in driving initiatives to enhance employee engagement, satisfaction, and well-being, ultimately contributing to the success and sustainability of the business.

  • Recruitment and Talent Acquisition
  • Training and Development Programme Development and Implementation
  • Employee Relations Management
  • Compliance with Employment Laws and Regulations
  • Cultivating a Positive Work Culture
  • Promoting Diversity and Inclusion
  • Alignment of HR Strategies with Organisational Goals
  • Driving Initiatives for Employee Engagement, Satisfaction, and Well-being

What the ideal CPO looks like

The ideal Chief People Officer (CPO) possesses a combination of strategic vision, interpersonal skills and a deep understanding of human resources principles. They are visionary leaders who can effectively align HR strategies with the overall goals and objectives of the organisation. The ideal CPO is a strong communicator and collaborator, capable of building positive relationships with employees at all levels of the organisation. They are empathetic and approachable, with a genuine commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive work culture. Additionally, the ideal CPO is proactive and innovative, constantly seeking ways to enhance employee engagement, satisfaction, and well-being. They are also adaptable and resilient, able to navigate complex challenges and drive positive change within the organisation. Overall, the ideal CPO is a strategic thinker, a compassionate leader, and a champion of the company’s most valuable asset: its people.

Who works closely with the CPO?

The Chief People Officer (CPO) typically works closely with other chief officers, including the CEO (Chief Executive Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), COO (Chief Operating Officer), and other members of the executive team. They collaborate with these leaders to align human resources strategies with the overall goals and objectives of the organisation, ensuring that HR initiatives support the company’s strategic direction and contribute to its success. Additionally, the CPO may work closely with department heads and managers across the organisation to implement HR policies and initiatives at all levels.

Becoming a Chief People Officer

Embarking on the journey to become a Chief People Officer (CPO) is both a challenge and an opportunity for aspiring HR professionals. In this section, we delve into the multifaceted role of a CPO and explore the essential skills, experiences, and qualities required to excel in this pivotal leadership position. From navigating the ever-evolving landscape of human resources to fostering a culture of inclusivity and driving employee engagement, aspiring CPOs will discover the roadmap to success in shaping the future of work. Join us as we uncover the path to becoming a visionary leader in the realm of people management.

Chief People Officer job description

The job description of a Chief People Officer (CPO) typically includes a range of responsibilities aimed at overseeing the human resources function within an organisation. Here’s a comprehensive job description for a CPO:

Job Title:

Chief People Officer (CPO)

Job Summary:

The Chief People Officer (CPO) is a senior executive responsible for leading and overseeing all aspects of the human resources function within the organisation. The CPO plays a critical role in shaping the company’s culture, fostering employee engagement, and driving initiatives to attract, retain, and develop top talent. This leadership position requires a strategic mindset, exceptional interpersonal skills, and a deep understanding of human resources principles.

Key Responsibilities:
  • Develop and implement human resources strategies aligned with the company’s overall goals and objectives.
  • Oversee recruitment and talent acquisition efforts to attract skilled individuals who align with the organisation’s values and culture.
  • Design and implement training and development programmes to enhance employee skills and capabilities.
  • Manage employee relations, including resolving conflicts, addressing grievances, and promoting a positive work environment.
  • Ensure compliance with employment laws and regulations, including diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  • Foster a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by promoting diversity initiatives and creating an inclusive work environment.
  • Drive initiatives to enhance employee engagement, satisfaction, and well-being.
  • Collaborate with other senior executives to align HR strategies with business objectives and drive organisational success.
  • Lead performance management processes, including setting performance standards, conducting performance evaluations, and providing feedback and coaching to employees.
  • Stay informed about industry trends and best practices in human resources management and implement innovative approaches to enhance HR effectiveness.
Qualifications:

Again, individual organsiations will vary requirements but broad expectations will be:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, Business Administration, or a related field (Master’s degree preferred).
  • Proven experience in a senior HR leadership role, with a track record of success in developing and implementing HR strategies.
  • Strong knowledge of employment laws and regulations.
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills.
  • Strategic thinking and problem-solving abilities.
  • Ability to build and maintain positive relationships with employees at all levels of the organisation.
  • Commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Proactive and results-oriented mindset.

The Chief People Officer plays a crucial role in shaping the employee experience and driving organisational success through effective human resources management.

Chief People Officer salary

The salary range for Chief People Officers (CPOs) in the UK can vary depending on factors such as the size and industry of the organisation, the candidate’s level of experience, and the location of the role. However, according to data from sources such as Glassdoor, Payscale, and Indeed, the salary range for CPOs in the UK typically falls between £80,000 to £150,000 per year. In some cases, particularly for larger organisations or those in high-demand industries, CPOs may earn salaries above this range, reaching £200,000 or more, especially when including bonuses, incentives, and other benefits. Additionally, salaries can vary based on factors such as the company’s financial performance and the CPO’s individual performance and contributions to the organisation.

5 Skills CPOs Should Have on Their Resumes / CV 

Here are five key skills that Chief People Officers (CPOs) should highlight on their CVs:

  1. Strategic Leadership: Demonstrated ability to develop and execute human resources strategies aligned with the organisation’s overall goals and objectives. This includes setting a clear vision for the HR function, prioritising initiatives, and driving organisational change.

  2. Employee Engagement and Well-being: Proven track record in fostering a positive work culture, promoting employee engagement, and enhancing employee satisfaction and well-being. This includes implementing initiatives to improve work-life balance, recognise employee achievements, and address employee concerns.

  3. Talent Management and Development: Strong expertise in talent acquisition, retention, and development. This includes designing and implementing recruitment strategies, training and development programmes, succession planning, and performance management processes to attract, retain, and develop top talent.

  4. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): Commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. This includes implementing DEI initiatives, fostering an inclusive work environment, and promoting awareness and education around diversity-related issues.

  5. Communication and Relationship Building: Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with employees at all levels of the organisation. This includes effective communication of HR policies and initiatives, providing feedback and coaching to employees, and collaborating with other senior executives and stakeholders to align HR strategies with business objectives.

These skills demonstrate a CPO’s ability to lead the HR function effectively, drive employee engagement and well-being, and contribute to the overall success of the organisation.

Chief people officer jobs

While Chief People Officer jobs are often subject to Executive Search, you will nonetheless find that they are often advertised in more conventional ways through job boards and other recruitment sites, like LinkedIn.

CPO versus CHRO

The roles of Chief People Officers (CPOs) and Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) are often lumped together but are nonetheless different. In this segment, we delve into the distinctions between these two positions, examining their unique responsibilities, skill sets and contributions to organisational success. Join us as we navigate the intricacies of people leadership and uncover the nuances that differentiate the CPO from the CHRO in shaping the future of human resources management.

What’s the difference between a CPO and a CHRO?

The difference between a Chief People Officer (CPO) and a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) lies primarily in their scope of responsibilities and focus within the organisation.

Scope of Responsibilities:
  • CPO: A CPO typically focuses on broader people-related initiatives beyond traditional HR functions. They may oversee aspects such as employee engagement, culture development, and talent management, in addition to traditional HR responsibilities.
  • CHRO: A CHRO is more commonly associated with traditional HR functions such as recruitment, training, performance management, and compliance with employment laws and regulations.
Strategic Focus:
  • CPO: CPOs often have a strategic focus on shaping the overall employee experience and driving cultural transformation within the organisation. They work to create a positive and inclusive work environment that fosters employee engagement and well-being.
  • CHRO: CHROs typically focus on the operational aspects of HR, such as ensuring compliance with HR policies and regulations, managing HR processes and systems, and overseeing day-to-day HR activities.
Reporting Structure:
  • CPO: In some organisations, the CPO may report directly to the CEO or another C-suite executive, reflecting their strategic importance in shaping the company’s culture and people strategy.
  • CHRO: CHROs often report to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Chief Operating Officer (COO) and are responsible for executing HR strategies and initiatives in alignment with the company’s goals.
Skill Set:
  • CPO: CPOs typically possess strong leadership, communication, and strategic planning skills, along with a deep understanding of organisational culture and employee engagement principles.
  • CHRO: CHROs often have strong operational and technical HR skills, including expertise in areas such as employment law, talent acquisition, performance management, and HR systems and processes.

While there may be overlap between the roles of CPOs and CHROs, particularly in larger organisations, the distinction lies in their focus and strategic approach to people management within the organisation.

The evolution from CHRO to CPO

The evolution from Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) to Chief People Officer (CPO) reflects a shift in the strategic focus of HR leadership within organisations. Historically, HR departments primarily focused on administrative tasks and compliance with employment laws and regulations. However, as organisations recognise the importance of their people in driving business success, the role of HR has evolved to encompass broader people-related initiatives aimed at shaping the employee experience and driving organisational culture.

The transition from CHRO to CPO signifies a shift from a traditional HR function to a more strategic and holistic approach to people management. Here are some key factors contributing to this evolution.

Key factors creating the shift
  • Focus on Employee Experience: CPOs are increasingly focused on creating positive employee experiences that go beyond traditional HR functions. This includes initiatives to enhance employee engagement, well-being, and satisfaction, as well as fostering a positive and inclusive work culture.

  • Strategic Alignment with Business Goals: CPOs play a more strategic role in aligning HR strategies with the overall goals and objectives of the organisation. They work closely with other senior executives to ensure that people-related initiatives support the company’s strategic direction and contribute to its success.

  • Cultural Transformation: CPOs are catalysts for cultural transformation within organisations. They drive initiatives to shape organisational culture, promote diversity and inclusion, and foster innovation and collaboration among employees.

  • Emphasis on Talent Management: CPOs place a strong emphasis on talent management and development. They are responsible for attracting and retaining top talent, developing leadership capabilities, and building a pipeline of future leaders to ensure the organisation’s long-term success.

  • Adoption of Technology and Analytics: CPOs leverage technology and data analytics to inform people-related decisions and drive continuous improvement in HR processes and practices. This includes using data to identify trends, predict future workforce needs, and measure the impact of HR initiatives on business outcomes.

Overall, the evolution from CHRO to CPO reflects a broader recognition of the strategic importance of people management in driving organisational success. CPOs are at the forefront of this evolution, leading efforts to create positive employee experiences, align HR strategies with business goals, and drive cultural transformation within organisations.

FAQ

Answers to popular questions.

Is a Chief People Officer the same as HR?

No, a Chief People Officer (CPO) is not the same as HR. While both roles focus on managing and supporting an organisation’s workforce, there are key differences. A Chief People Officer is a senior executive responsible for aligning human resources strategy with the company’s overall business strategy, often with a focus on company culture, employee engagement and talent management. In contrast, HR (Human Resources) typically refers to the department or professionals handling administrative functions such as recruitment, payroll, benefits and compliance. Thus, while the CPO role encompasses broader strategic responsibilities, HR focuses more on operational and administrative tasks.

What skills do you need to be a chief people officer?

To be a Chief People Officer, you need a range of skills including:

  • Leadership: Ability to lead and inspire a diverse team.
  • Strategic Thinking: Capacity to align HR strategy with business goals.
  • Communication: Strong interpersonal and communication skills for effective interaction at all organisational levels.
  • Change Management: Expertise in guiding organisations through change and transformation.
  • Employee Engagement: Skills in fostering a positive work environment and high employee morale.
  • Talent Management: Proficiency in recruiting, retaining and developing top talent.
  • Analytical Skills: Ability to use data and analytics to inform HR decisions.
  • Cultural Competence: Understanding and promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

Why do we need a Chief People Officer?

We need a Chief People Officer to ensure that an organisation’s human resources strategy aligns with its overall business objectives. A Chief People Officer focuses on enhancing company culture, improving employee engagement and fostering talent development. This role helps to create a positive work environment, supports change management initiatives and ensures the organisation attracts and retains top talent. Ultimately, a Chief People Officer contributes to the company’s success by prioritising the well-being and growth of its employees.

Who does a Chief People Officer report to?

The Chief People Officer typically reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the Chief Operating Officer (COO). This reporting structure ensures that human resources strategies and initiatives are closely aligned with the overall business goals and executive leadership. In some organisations, the Chief People Officer may also report to the Board of Directors, especially when the focus is on significant organisational change or culture transformation.

How much do Chief People Officers earn?

Chief People Officers can earn a substantial salary, reflecting their senior role and strategic responsibilities. In the UK, the salary for a Chief People Officer typically ranges from £120,000 to £200,000 per year. However, this can vary widely based on the size of the organisation, its industry, and the individual’s level of experience and expertise. In addition to base salary, Chief People Officers often receive bonuses, stock options and other benefits.

What is another name for a Chief People Officer?

Another name for a Chief People Officer is Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). Both titles refer to the senior executive responsible for overseeing an organisation’s human resources strategy, including talent management, employee engagement, and company culture. While the titles may differ, the roles and responsibilities are generally similar, focusing on aligning HR practices with business objectives and ensuring the well-being and development of employees.

When to hire a Chief People Officer?

You should consider hiring a Chief People Officer when your organisation is experiencing significant growth, undergoing a major transformation, or facing challenges with employee engagement and retention. A Chief People Officer is also valuable when there is a need to align human resources strategy with overall business objectives, enhance company culture, or implement comprehensive talent management initiatives. Additionally, if your organisation is aiming to prioritise diversity and inclusion, or improve change management processes, a Chief People Officer can provide the necessary expertise and leadership.

What is the average tenure of a Chief People Officer?

The average tenure of a Chief People Officer is typically between three to five years. This duration can vary depending on the organisation, industry, and individual circumstances. Factors influencing tenure include the success of strategic initiatives, changes in company leadership, and career progression opportunities. While some Chief People Officers may stay longer if they are particularly effective or satisfied with their role, others may move on sooner to pursue new challenges or opportunities.

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Michael Gater

Head of Delivery

Michael heads up our Executive Search practice. His job title is Head of Delivery because that is exactly what he and his team do for our clients. 

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