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Are HR Priorities Misplaced? Insights & Analysis

I recently read an article comparing the priorities of the CEO to those of the CHRO. It was an interesting read and for the most part the two were aligned.

However, after reading the article I wondered whether the stated HR priorities and what is actually being prioritized are the same. On almost a daily basis I have conversations with HR leaders and the conversation often focuses my area of expertise – employee retention. The HR leader frequently agrees that employee retention is a priority, but when asked what is currently being done to improve retention, I hear that another major project is being tackled. Alarmingly, most of the time the project receiving the attention is some type of technology implementation. These range from HRIS/payroll to enterprise talent management systems.

The HR leader usually suggests we regroup in a few months when they can focus more intently on retention issues. Believe me I get it. Technology can solve a lot of challenges and can make so many transactional processes more efficient.  However, all I can think about is that every day an employee is quitting the company and those costs associated with employee turnover will never be recouped.

I believe employee retention has never been more critical than it is right now. We’ve anticipated since last summer as we started to see signs of economic recovery from the global pandemic that employee turnover would skyrocket, which is now happening. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported almost 10 million job openings in April. They also reported over 4 million US workers quit their jobs in April, the highest number ever recorded for the month of April.

As someone who both runs a business and is an expert in employee retention, I can appreciate the juggling of priorities that a CHRO must accomplish. But what we find when reading anything about optimization, is that you must narrow your focus on just a few critical priorities. I hope employee retention begins making it to the top of the list quickly, or it might just be too late.