The Future of HR in Organizational Success

Q&A with Anna Lyons, Chief Talent Officer, Alegeus

anna lyons headshot

Anna Lyons, Chief Talent Officer

Q: What is the most significant challenge currently faced by Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) in relation to the evolving talent landscape and its impact on human resources?

While CHROs constantly face big issues, one of the biggest issues I’m facing right now is the talent landscape – it’s going through both a revolution and an evolution, which is having a significant downstream impact on human resources.

If you think about even the past twenty years, the differentiator, or the value proposition that made companies stand out, was their access to technology and the systems they utilize. Now, that access to technology is more or less available to all. What is really creating that differentiator for organizations is the people. I once read this great quote – it was about how, where it used to be this conversation around HR having a seat at the table, HR is the table now.

A company is built on its talent, and HR is the foundation for attracting really high-quality, high-caliber individuals, and creating each step in the employee lifecycle that helps to retain those individuals. It’s about allowing the sort of opportunity that keeps people upskilling and moving within the organization and within their careers.

Q: How do you foresee the role of CHROs evolving in response to changes in traditional HR functions and the growing emphasis on creating a comprehensive employee experience?

From my perspective, traditional “human resources” was very much around the compliance and administrative components of having an employee at an organization – whether it be an offer letter or onboarding or benefits, that was really the focus of what used to be a relatively small human resources function.

What I see now in the evolution that’s occurring is that the talent team is charged with creating a holistic employee experience – something that is differentiated and unique to that specific organization.

More and more, human resources professionals are looking at each touchpoint in the employee lifecycle. From the very first contact, through onboarding, through the culture and values of the environment in which this individual gets to work, and even through the separation process, every aspect of the lifecycle is a touchpoint at which the employee decides if they want to continue their journey with the organization.

Q: What advice would you give to benefits administrators, brokers or consultants seeking to capture the attention of and obtain buy-in from CHROs?

One really important role of talent professionals is to be accurate and compelling storytellers. And by that, I mean that the talent organization is charged with creating the values and the culture that really permeate the organization.

When I think about a way in which someone could get both time with the CHRO as well as a seat at the table, it is very much around how they contribute to that story.

As an example, in the past, many viewed benefits as sort of a necessity – something basic and expected that you offer in an employer-employee relationship. What I want us to think about is how those benefits reflect the culture and the values we are trying to create. For instance, if an employer is really committed to work/life balance and supporting the “whole person,” the choices they make around benefits might involve things like improved family leave, information around fertility services and adoption services, etc.

And if the individual who wants time with the CHRO can tie their piece to that broader culture and values puzzle, it is much more likely that I will select that particular organization or vendor. Because they are helping me to create that narrative that we are trying to bring to life each and every day.

Q: How has the perspective of HR leaders toward benefits evolved over the past two years?

Benefits have become a hot topic within the broader talent community, for two key reasons.

First and foremost, obviously, organizations are paying attention to every dollar spent. And so ensuring that you have value tied to each of those dollars is critically important. Any capabilities, levers or otherwise, that a CHRO can pull to lower cost for the employer while still providing robust benefits for the employee are top of the list. When you think about how much an employer spends on benefits, it is a truly significant amount. Steering those dollars toward things that both attract and retain employees is critical.

Second, for the first time in a long time, we have five different generations within the workforce. As you can imagine, the types of benefits they want and need are hugely different. It’s critically important that you create a benefits package targeted to each of those unique needs. That might include an improved health savings account that allows individuals who are a little later in their journey to save for future medical costs. Or it might be a lifestyle spending account that helps a new parent pay for daycare services or helps with educational expenses. These are some of the new offerings outside of the typical medical-dental-vision area that we’re looking to as attraction and retention tools in this talent market.

And so, figuring out both how you balance the first piece, which is around cost savings, with the second piece, which is around unique and tailored benefits that meet employees where they are, is the name of the game as it relates to HR and benefits.

Q: What insights or predictions can you provide regarding the potential future of the talent landscape?

When I think about the future of human resources and talent more broadly, I see a future powered by data-driven people decisions.

Over the past few years, the amount of data related to talent has increased significantly. Access to claims data, ability to track why an employee is leaving, understanding different demographics, how diverse a workforce is – all of that is certainly present and growing.

What we have not seen yet is an effective and efficient way of taking all that data and turning it into people insights. As an example, one of the things I am particularly excited about from a data perspective is productivity. In this post-COVID environment, we spend a lot of time talking about where an individual should work – whether they are as productive working from home as they are working from the office. What employees have told us time and time again is that they want the choice, they want the flexibility. And what employers are saying is they want the output, right? So the ability to understand productivity data is hugely important, so we can ensure we respect and balance everyone’s priorities.