Undoubtedly, the pandemic has focused attention on the People agenda, and the approach to people management, leadership and conduct is under the microscope across industry, from start-up, to multinational, in both private and public sector and, most recently of course, in government.
In 2020, many HR practitioners found themselves working in new ways to answer new questions amid the complexities presented by both Covid-19 and Brexit. And while both issues continue to present HR with new challenges every day, most recently events in Ukraine have meant ever more complex socio-economic, ethical and moral decisions are being played out on the world stage.
In essence, the issues the function is tackling now in many cases simply didn’t exist two or three years ago.
An additional layer of scrutiny comes from the fact that we live in a social media age, where what would have previously been considered small missteps or ‘internal people decisions’ are played out on the world stage and have the potential to cause exponential damage to both customer and employee reputation. The media storms around free school meals, ‘no jab, no job’ and office presenteeism mandates, to name a few, have increased the public profile of a function that still, so often, feels the need to talk about how to secure a ‘seat at the table’.
The last two years have demonstrated the power of a strong People and Culture function to so many businesses, and this has now come into even more of a sharp relief due to the war in Ukraine. Against this backdrop, the focus on the role of Chief People Officer has intensified, with a heavy responsibility to lead the organisation’s approach to people risk and reputation.