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Human capital has become central to corporate agendas as the dynamic between employees and employers has shifted in recent years. CEOs continue to view talent as a top concern even in the face of a slowing economy. This has elevated the strategic role of the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) as a critical leader in the C-suite. Together, CEOs and CHROs are tackling critical talent management issues from developing the leaders and managers they need to drive the business to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives to keeping factories and stores fully staffed with an engaged workforce. All the while, they must jointly tackle the pressing tactical issues related to returning to the office, managing hybrid and remote workforces, and supporting an ever-growing need for health and wellness support as burnout, mental health challenges, and other personal health issues have risen to the fore on the HR agenda.

Sometimes, managing these elements can create tension in the relationship between these two C-suite leaders. While the word “tension” often carries a negative connotation, in practice it can be productive and used to strengthen the CEO-CHRO partnership and propel their organization forward. The debate about whether workforces should return to the office full time or on a hybrid basis is a particularly timely example of this tension. Many CHROs are walking the tightrope between representing the needs of employees, who desire flexibility, with the needs of CEOs and upper management, who are concerned with the need to promote in-person collaboration for innovation and culture. The trend of “quiet quitting,” the ongoing Great Resignation, and a looming economic downturn leave leaders with little margin for error.

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