Today’s podcast is part of a series on the Workology Podcast focused on the role and responsibilities of the Chief Human Resources Officer, or CHRO. The CHRO is an executive or C-level role that deals with managing human resources, as well as with organizational development and implementing policies of change to improve the overall efficiency of the company. The CHRO Podcast series on Workology is powered by HUB International. One of the reasons I wanted to do this series is because there is a lot of mystery around the CHRO role. I want aspiring CHRO’s to know what type of skills and experiences they need to promote into a future CHRO role along with hearing from senior HR leadership how they are partnering and collaborating with their executive peers.
Episode 256: The Role of the CHRO in the First 90 Days with Michelle Mitchell (@MichelleMitchell)
How do CHRO’s help keep the “human” in human resources? How do we interact with our workforce in a meaningful way? How do we renew our passion for the work? In this interview I dive into the subject of being a new CHRO and returning to the workforce after a hiatus, plus why getting on Great Place to Work lists can benefit companies and employees. I talked with Michelle Mitchell, Chief Human Resources Officer at Aryaka Networks. Michelle has two decades of HR experience, but her CHRO role at Aryaka is a new one and we’ll talk about her first 90 days on the job and what she’s been focused on.
Michelle started her new role as CHRO at Aryaka after taking a year-long hiatus from her career to focus on her family. I asked Michelle about her time off and what returning to the workforce was like, especially considering that it was during a global pandemic. “I’ve always juggled work life balance with my three kids and my career, and I’ve been successful and progressed quickly in my career. That year off, I think, renewed my passion and enthusiasm for human resources. It really brought me home to where I wanted to land and focus my opportunities on and my career, collaborating with people to bring on change and help them be successful.”
As far as hitting the ground running during a global health crisis, Michelle said “we were really lucky here at Aryaka. We have a lot of resources already in place, but we weren’t leveraging them. So we’ve been really making sure that we communicate, put out information, make sure our hotlines are open, and ensuring that not only the employees, but their families feel empowered to help themselves or anyone during this time.”
Getting a Ranking on ‘Great Places to Work’
Aryaka was named one of the Great Places to Work in the U.S. and Michelle is currently working on getting certified for all employees (400) globally. I asked her to tell us more about this and how it affects her company. Michelle said “as of today, we over 80 percent employee participation in the Great Places to Work survey. The way I look at the survey opportunities for us is not just for our brand, but also internally using it as an engagement survey. There are a lot of great questions you can tie in based upon region and employee classification and really start to hone in on things that you could improve on. So we are using it in two different ways, one for the branding and the recognition, but also internally so that we can see how the pulse of the company is. What are we doing right? What can we improve upon? Last year we made three strategic improvements. One was to our training and development program. One was in corporate communication. We added town hall meetings and one was to add a work from home policy.”
Using the Great Places to Work survey as an employee survey is a smart idea. As Michelle explained, “HR typically doesn’t have the largest budget in organizations. So I look at it as how can I use things for dual purpose, not only that certification, but for engagement as well? What other tools do I have out there? I have a pretty finite budget and I can only do so much. So it was great to take this and take a different lens and look at how you can use it as an engagement tool. I think it’s a great opportunity.”
It’s really interesting to delve into how a role like CHRO whose experience more closely connects them to the strategy and operations of the overall business works with the rest of a company leadership team. The CHRO doesn’t just lead HR within a company, the role is also key to structuring the leadership for a company’s executive team. I appreciate Michelle taking the time to share her experience with us.
Connect with Michell Mitchell.
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