5 Observations from CHRO Exchange January

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CHRO Exchange_Human Resource Concept on Blackboard

Knowledge share is a powerful tool.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s exactly what sounds like:  the ability and desire to share knowledge with other people, peers, or organizations.  Such is the mission of the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) Exchange.

For three days, HR professionals and solution providers met in Orlando, Florida to discuss topics of change, specifically dealing with innovation through engagement, performance and culture.

Knowledge Sharing

As the editor for the HR Exchange Network, I have unique access to the event in that I have the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with speakers; people who are truly innovating in the HR space.  In the spirit of knowledge sharing, here are 5 observations I made during my time at the event.

  1. Change is a constant

Change happens to everyone and everything. 

“I think we’re all always preparing for the next thing,” Luciana Duarte said.  She’s the VP of Employee Experience for HP.

Like all companies, HP is susceptible to change, but for them it happens quickly.  As one of the most recognizable technology companies in the world, they have to live, breathe, and sleep agility.  The same can be said for their HR strategy around employee engagement.  Case-in-point, their finance department uses a large number of bots; more than 300 to automate mundane tasks.  In doing so, HP allows their employees to do higher level work which increases their level of engagement.

Courtesy:  Mason Stevenson

“So, what the human is doing, the human is interpreting the information that the bot is enabling.  It used to be with some of the processes, it took 48 man hours.  And now, they’re taking eight hours start to finish,” Duarte said.  “It really does free people up and it adds a different kind of value to the business.  That also includes the opportunity to retrain and to give people different kinds of tools to do their jobs more effectively.”

But there was also a surprise outcome.  With the new changes, Duarte says employees are now innovating new ways to work and accomplish goals.

  1. Autonomy and Flexibility are a key retention strategies

Nextel Brasil went through a difficult time during its history as a company.  Essentially the company was failing and had to regroup and to, in essence, stay alive.  In the process, the company made some significant organizational challenges.

Luana Matos is the Chief Human Resources Officer for the company.  She outlined the two changes during her presentation.  First, they changed the way the organization was structured to allow for more autonomy.  In doing so, they stripped away 30% of the managerial level and created fewer layers.  This meant decisions as well as communication between employees and executives happened much more quickly and frequently.

Courtesy:  Mason Stevenson

Secondly, the company embraced flexibility as a matter of survival.  They didn’t have a lot of cash on hand to offer bonuses or salary increases.  They also wanted to make sure they targeted those employees who were digital natives.  So, they had to create new differentials.  Flexibility/flexible scheduling was one of them.

“You want to arrive at 10 am?  No problem as long as you do your job and you get your time in and you deliver.  And the workforce, especially the young workforce, loved it,” Matos said.  “They start to feel like entrepreneurs and part of a start up culture.”

  1. People are the key component to organizational transformation

Terri Hoskins is the CHRO for TBC Corporation.  She says a large portion of her career has been focused on organizational transformation.  Such was the topic of her presentation.  From her perspective, people are a critical component to transformation of the organization.  So, how do you make people the focus.  Hoskins has a three step process.

  1. Get to know your company.
  2. Figure out how the company is currently investing in people.
  3. Make sure transformation is on pace with the people focus.


  1. Embracing Intellectual Disability as a Diversity Factor

When diversity and inclusion is discussed, often enough it is focused on gender, race, or pay issues.  Having said that, it is rare to include a conversation around people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. 

Want to know more about HR's role in Diversity?  Click here.

“There’s a lack of information in people and a lot of preconceived, incorrect thoughts,” Horace Porrás said.  He’s the Vice President of HR – Latin America for American Tower Corporation. I’ve always worked in Human Resources and I’ve always believed in the potential and capabilities of people.”

Courtesy:  Mason Stevenson

American Tower has hired several employees with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  He said the employees were truly capable and flawless in the execution of their responsibilities.

“If you need people to work on accounting, who are you going to hire?  An accountant.  If you need to someone to work in compensation and benefits, who are you going to hire?  Someone from HR,” Porrás said.  You follow the same principle when hiring someone with an IDD.  Figure out what you need them to do and hire accordingly.

Porrás said don’t be afraid to let these people into your company.  They can be a fantastic asset to the team.

  1. Employees are the best recruiting tool

“Think like a marketer as you’re considering this idea of strategic recruiting,” Associa Chief Human Resources Officer Chelle O’Keefe said.

Courtesy:  Mason Stevenson

This is really important in today’s changing world, especially when one considers the future of work.  The employer brand is under much more scrutiny by potential employees than ever before.  Take Generation Z, for instance.  Generally speaking, iGen workers take stock of the brand to see if it aligns with their personal beliefs.  If not, there is a real possibility the worker will pass on the opportunity.

Infographic:  Recruitment Success Tips

As companies start to re-evaluate their employer brand, O’Keefe said one component is key.

“Employees are your best recruiting tool,” O’Keefe said.


The overarching theme at the CHRO Exchange is:  Human Resources, as a whole, is focusing more on people-centric strategies.  HR professionals have always known people are a company’s best asset, but sometimes that is forgotten and the emphasis shifted to technology or profits.  What HR professionals need to figure out, and what this exchange facilitated, were ways in which HR can marry the three to ensure the best strategic outcome of the business and the company.

The next CHRO Exchange is scheduled for May 19-21, 2019 in Austin, TX.  For more information, click here.


Photo courtesy:  Stock Photo Secrets