Episode 301: The Role of the CHRO and Employee Well-Being

This 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 Daily Pay and Ginger.io. 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 301: The Role of the CHRO and Employee Well-Being With Adriana Bokel Herde (@AdrianaBokelHerde)

I talked with Adriana Bokel Herde, Chief People Officer of Pega. Adriana leads the software company’s efforts to attract, develop, and retain the best talent, directing teams focused on talent attraction, career development, performance management, benefits, mental and physical well-being, inclusion and diversity, and social impact. 

Adriana has more than 20 years of experience in HR leadership. I asked her how she started her career in HR and what led her to her current role. “I have done many different things in my career both within HR and other areas of the business. I spent some time doing people development, recruiting…I have been in generalist roles, specialist roles, in recruiting…what really changed how I see HR is the opportunity to work in other countries. Being outside of a company’s headquarters gives you a different perspective on how company communications are received.” 

“I believe that HR is there to challenge leadership to think differently.” - Adriana Bokel Herde #WorkologyPodcast #CHRO Click To Tweet

The CHRO Role in a Time of Crisis

I asked Adriana what working during a pandemic has been like for a company with 6,000 global employees, specifically from the perspective of her team. How can we ensure that our most severely impacted employees have resources for themselves and their families? “It was hard and it’s still hard. We’re still working from home and are having conversations about returning to the office. Nobody knew how long this was going to last or what the impact would be. I’m proud that we didn’t have to do a reduction in force and that we were still able to support our clients. We are in a digital transformation world here, but there is also the personal side. People’s lives totally changed during this time. We have people with small kids, with elderly parents. To adapt, and also to show to managers who might not be in the same situation, we worked on building empathy for everyone…in addition to trying to support our 6,000 employees and ensure their safety and work-life balance.”

One-third of Pega’s employees are located in India, which is still pretty severely impacted by COVID-19. I asked Adriana about the support they set up for this segment of Pega’s employee population and their families. “We arranged a call center for employees in India to help people get beds for their families if they were running out of oxygen, knowing that we couldn’t provide the beds ourselves, but to connect them to hospitals who might have them. We also did vaccination drives and vaccinated about 25% of our population and their families.”  

“We care very much. We saw the desperation in our employee population in India and wish we could do even more. We created an employee fund for our employees to contribute support to employees who needed assistance (and the company matched those contributions). These are the small things we can do to make our employees’ lives better.”

“I think what is important to HR leaders is to structure their organization in a way that supports the entire business.” - Adriana Bokel Herde #WorkologyPodcast #CHRO Click To Tweet

It’s 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 – and this is especially important during a crisis like COVID-19. I appreciate Adriana taking the time to share her experience with us!

Listen to the full podcast for more, including how Adriana works with her team on in-house recruiting and how they will roll out their tiered hybrid work model to allow employees the most flexibility possible.

Connect with Adriana Bokel Herde.



– Adriana Bokel Herde on LinkedIn

– Careers at Pega

– Pega on Twitter

– CHRO Job Description

– Apple employees push back against returning to the office in internal letter

– The Post-Pandemic Work-Life Preferences

– Why “REAL LIFE” Support For Your Employees Is A Great ROI

– Episode 267: Asynchronous Work & How Upwork Supports Black Employees

– Ep 248: How to Help Remote Teams Be Productive

– Ep 158 – Supporting Your Employees When There’s a Cancer Diagnosis

– Episode Transcript

How to Subscribe to the Workology Podcast

Stitcher | PocketCast | iTunes | Podcast RSS | Google Play | YouTube | TuneIn

Find out how to be a guest on the Workology Podcast.

Posted in

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


Pin It on Pinterest