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In September 2022, the Practice Leaders at FlemingMartin held virtual lunches with over 90 Chief People Officers (CPOs) from leading software and life science companies. We touched on a wide range of subjects, including:

How has the current economy affected your company’s recruiting?

While all companies are bracing for economic headwinds, CPOs confess that recruiting remains a bit of a challenge, but not as difficult as it was in 2021. Talented people still have options, and they still expect inflated compensation.

How has your company’s position on Remote vs In-Office work changed, if at all?

Responses to this are still all over the board. Some companies remain 100% remote, while others are requiring all employees to work in the office 2-3 days a week (although, enforcement is mixed). A few are requiring a return to office 4-5 days each week. Most CPOs are leveraging lunches, team-building events, and all-hands meetings to encourage employees to come on-site, but nothing has been overwhelmingly effective. This discussion led to our favorite quote of the quarter: “In-person access to the executive leadership team is the new office amenity!”

With restrictions loosening, how much of your bandwidth is currently tied up in COVID issues?

Almost unanimously, companies are no longer tracking Covid cases and are worrying less about compliance.

In the evolving legislative landscape, what new benefits might you offer in 2023?

This is a hot button for most attendees. CPOs report that their companies are communicating frankly with their employees about expectations and fears related to reproductive care. Some companies are providing travel reimbursement and other resources to help employees located in states with growing restrictions.

How might your HR budgets change in 2023?

Most CPOs expect to cut expenses in real estate, large corporate gatherings, and pricey offsites. Some are also planning to watch their external recruiting budgets more closely. The expenditure that seems most critical to preserve is managerial training and development. With the challenges of leading teams in a remote work environment being felt by everyone, this training is considered by CPOs to be off-limits for budget cuts.

How does your company leverage coaching?

The general theme is that most CPOs seek better coaching and leadership development resources. They are wary of hiring executive coaches in perpetuity because of the high costs. CPOs feel it is critical to ensure a coach works for the company and not for the individual. This means having tangible outcomes and also regular communications between the coach and HR department. Otherwise, the coach turns into a therapist. Some specific coaching recommendations are on pages 9 and 10 of the detailed notes document here: CPO Lunch Notes Q3 2022

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