CHRO and human capital leaders

Latest findings from PwC’s Pulse Survey

Talent required: Investing in workforce is CHROs’ top priority in 2022

In today’s volatile job market, giving employees a reason to stay with your company is critical. So how are CHROs tackling that challenge? To start, 47% tell us their companies are improving career advancement opportunities. No wonder. Pride of ownership in your business grows as employees move up the corporate ladder. To keep your people—and keep them happy in their work—make sure they feel invested at multiple levels of your organization. 

HR leaders know that it’s people who move business forward, and 61% of CHRO respondents tell us hiring and retaining talent will be a key investment for their companies in 2022. That’s also the top investment area cited among all executives in the survey. As CHROs are increasingly elevated to a seat at the strategy table, other leaders are looking to them to drive this agenda.

Corporate investment strategies are recognizing that high employee turnover is at odds with sustained growth. The keys to reducing attrition are leadership development, increased communication with employees and a clear articulation of your vision and purpose—especially during stressful times. To decrease overload and reduce turnover, focus on internal career advancement, upskilling and learning programs. And always consider the employee’s perspective. They want to feel that their work is valued and connects to a broader purpose.




CHROs: Let your people know they matter


Improving internal career advancement opportunities
%
Increasing use of automation for certain jobs
%
Off-cycle raises and/or retention bonuses
%
Partnering with colleges and universities to train and recruit skilled labor
%
Increasing budget for apprenticeship programs to attract diverse individuals
%
Adding upskilling programs to address redistributed job functions
%
Increasing production in local communities
%
Changing business plan projections to take labor shortages into account
%
Changing job titles/descriptions to highlight our company's employee value proposition
%
Personalizing benefits
%
Onshoring jobs
%

Q: What changes are you planning to make in 2022 to address labor shortages and productivity challenges?
Source: PwC Pulse Survey, January 27, 2022: base of 678, CHRO base of 94

Real change: Purpose and communication are key to employee retention

Executives are realizing that without making clear your company’s purpose, employees can become disenchanted and leave. Increased communication between leadership and employees and better articulating their company’s purpose are top priorities for CHROs this year. In both cases, trust is essential, and HR leaders increasingly understand that.

Ultimately, authentic relationships with your people matter. Getting back to basics is important: Build relationships that show that you care. As boundaries between work and personal lives continue to blur, now is the time to know about your people, their interests and their passions. That includes recognizing today’s changed work environment. CHROs are prioritizing both the safety of workers as they return to on-site work and the dynamic of managing employees who aren’t in the office. 

CHROs also realize that a key component of their company’s purpose is how it addresses diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). More than a quarter said investing in DE&I initiatives and improving reporting on those initiatives are top priorities in 2022. Focusing on purpose and culture is a strong statement to your existing talent that they matter. By engendering trust in your business, purpose and culture, you'll help keep your entire organization pulling for the same goals.

Not just talk: Responding to workforce reshuffling—in the short and long term


Increasing communication between leaders and employees
%
Better articulating our company's purpose to stakeholders (employees, job candidates, customers and the public)
%
Addressing on-site employee safety
%
Providing training for managers to lead teams in a remote environment
%
Investing in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives
%
Improving reporting on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives
%
Creating new rewards/benefits to show appreciation (e.g., spot bonuses, career milestone awards or extra paid time off)
%
Enriching onboarding experiences for recent hires
%
Changing job titles/descriptions to highlight our company's employee value proposition
%
Addressing employee burnout
%
Addressing corporate culture
%

Q: Which of the following are you prioritizing most in the first half of 2022 to address employee turnover?
Source: PwC Pulse Survey, January 27, 2022: base of 678, CHRO base of 94

Remote work and flexibility: Stay nimble for what lies ahead 

In a testament to how much the workplace has changed in the past two years, more than three-quarters of CHROs are planning to keep hybrid work a functional reality. The scales have steadily tipped from our August 2021 survey, with workplace location flexibility ruling the day. Combined with those HR leaders who say fully remote work will be an option in some fashion, organizations are affirming employee desire for flexibility and attesting to its success. 

But managing remote workers takes care and skill on the part of leadership. CHROs recognize this, with 30% saying they’re concerned about better remote leadership to bolster mental wellness, reduce remote inequity and avoid a toxic work culture. That aligns with our 2021 Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey that found issues like burnout and mental wellness becoming real challenges—and a top reason why talent will pack up and leave. 

It’s no wonder that organizations providing additional or permanent remote capability is more common now. Considering the recent degree of turnover, 23% of CHROs plan on enriching onboarding experiences for recent hires. And although performance gains rose in a remote work environment, HR leaders are adamant about striking a balance between productivity and wellness. Indeed, 63% CHROs say increasing agility to better operate in a turbulent business environment is very important for company growth.

How are companies letting their people work this year?



Offering a mix of in-person, hybrid and fully remote
%
Offering a mix of in-person and hybrid (no fully remote)
%
All hybrid
%
Teams self-organize
%
All in-person
%
All fully remote
%
Delaying implementation
%

*Note: Total may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Q: Which of the following statements best describes your workforce location policy that will be in effect in February 2022?
Source: PwC Pulse Survey, January 27, 2022: base of 678, CHRO base of 94

CHROs know it’s go digital or go home

You think investing in tech and joining the digital revolution is just something for CTOs, CIOs or COOs? Not so fast. More than two-thirds of CHROs tell us their companies plan to invest in digital transformation initiatives in 2022, and nearly half say their companies will increase automation of certain jobs.

Between the rise of remote work and the increasing adoption of automation, digital skills are no longer just optional for companies in many industries. From increasing productivity to reducing risk to improving the customer experience, digital upskilling can provide benefits for companies willing to make real investments—something CHROs increasingly understand. As work becomes more embedded in daily life, employees crave enrichment and real purpose. Digital investment can take the shape of learning experience platforms, which move your work culture toward an employee experience of lifelong learning, upward mobility and value.

Embracing automation in your HR strategy also can help mitigate potential production shortfalls, particularly amid continuing supply chain challenges. But committing to digital transformation is still a very human endeavor, providing your employees with the skills and tools necessary to meet ever-changing customer needs.

About the survey

Our latest PwC Pulse Survey, fielded January 10 to January 14, 2022, surveyed 94 human resource leaders from Fortune 1000 and private companies, along with other C-suite executives, about business priorities, investment plans and concerns as they think about the year ahead. Find all of these insights in our PwC Pulse Survey.

Contact us

Terri McClements

Terri McClements

Partner, Transformation, PwC US

Julia Lamm

Julia Lamm

Principal, Consulting Solutions, PwC US

Follow us