HR’s relationship with the CEO is more important than ever. Top executives have to think about the big picture. In doing that, it’s hard to consider all the ways decisions might impact staff. HR often serves as a liaison between the C-suite and the rest of the workforce, helping to keep everyone pointed in the same direction.
Learn more about how to build and the benefits of a solid HR and CEO relationship:
How to build a strong HR + CEO relationship
How do you build a mutually beneficial relationship between HR and the CEO based on trust? When HR advocates on behalf of all employees, the roles can feel adversarial at times. To prevent this, you have to start by emphasizing how you share the same ultimate goals.
Get on the same page
What are your top priorities as HR? Employees might want expanded benefits and raises, but those types of changes are expensive. The CEO has a better understanding of the company’s overall finances and what changes might be possible in the near future.
HR and the CEO both want the business to flourish, and they both care about the wellbeing of employees. HR and the CEO can work more effectively together on initiatives that both consider a high priority.
Establish trust and reliance
Not all HR departments work toward the success of the overall company. It’s easy to see internal tasks like benefits administration and payroll as siloed and unrelated to your company’s services and products.
To improve your standing with the CEO, the HR department needs to demonstrate value by improving efficiency and relaying accurate data. Avoid data and reporting mistakes to maintain credibility, and you can use HR software for automatic collection.
Additionally, keep up to date with state, local, and federal laws to ensure compliance and avoid unnecessary fines.
Develop a quick feedback cycle
HR needs to partake in big and small decisions without slowing down the usual process. A CEO’s internal memo or major policy change may strike an unexpected nerve with certain workers. HR should be a part of this decision to prevent some of those unnecessary conflicts.
The CEO and HR need a mutual understanding that allows for rapid two-way communication. You should be able to flag potential problems without causing personal tension. Quick email queries can address individual questions while routine meetings keep everyone on the same page.
Remove ego from the equation
Depending on your personality and temperament, it can be hard to accept brusque conversations and criticism. The CEO and HR need to be able to communicate efficiently without always walking on eggshells or serving up compliment sandwiches.
If you meet regularly in person, then you can reiterate that you’re working together for the same ultimate goals, not against each other. The well-being of the company and employees should matter more than winning an individual point about future policies.
Benefits of a solid HR + CEO relationship
Remember what’s at stake when you struggle to build up rapport. A strong collaboration between the CEO and HR can be a game-changer for the rest of the company, but it can’t be as simple or one-sided as HR doing whatever the CEO wants.
Enables organizational transformation
Outside of routine tasks like timekeeping and payroll, many HR departments feel powerless to make larger changes at the company. With additional influence in the C-suite, however, HR has a real chance to introduce big changes like adding new, innovative perks and benefits.
Likewise, many CEOs also struggle to implement their vision for the future of the company, and a closer collaboration with HR can expose blind spots and facilitate change.
Gives the CEO better insights into employees
Many CEOs are far removed from the daily experiences and frustrations of the workforce. When you’re rolling out a new product or pushing to increase production, it’s unclear how many employees already feel overworked. HR can introduce tools like employee engagement surveys for a high-resolution view of morale and motivation.
Gives HR insight into executives & company planning
When big decisions are made, HR needs to have a ‘seat at the table.’ Even when the decisions aren’t related to HR concerns, the changes may still need to be explained in a palatable way to employees.
Minor policy changes may need to be updated in the company handbook. Advocating for workers, HR can remind the leadership of the expectations and priorities of other workers, helping to reduce unnecessary frustration.
Facilitates important, difficult conversations
HR and CEO’s don’t have the luxury of avoiding tough conversations in the workplace. HR staff should be aware of issues that matter to employees, from childcare support to year-round initiatives for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. When there’s an issue with recruiting bias or anonymous complaints, you need to be able to honestly assess any underlying problems.
Improves company culture
Collaboration between HR and the C-suite can reduce two major sources of frustration: oblivious CEOs and ineffectual HR teams. By working closely with leadership, HR can follow through with programs to improve company culture, whether that’s on team building retreats or starting a workplace giving program.
The backing of upper management is significantly more empowering than a cheesy motivational poster, allowing HR to spend less time negotiating with individual managers. With HR’s backing, CEOs can make sure the whole company is headed in the right direction.