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Chief People Officer

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What Is a Chief People Officer? How to Become One, Salary, Skills.

A chief people officer (CPO) is an executive-level role overseeing the operations and initiatives that affect employee experience and company culture. Here’s what to know about a chief people officer’s needed skills, salary and how to become one.


What Is a Chief People Officer?

The chief people officer is responsible for the programs and initiatives focused on engaging employees, developing a company’s culture and improving employee retention rates. 


What Do Chief People Officers Do?

Chiefs people officers manage the teams that oversee talent acquisition, employee engagement and on and off-boarding processes. CPOs influence compensation plans and other workplace policies that support the personal needs and well-being of employees.

Chief People Officer Responsibilities

  • Shape a company’s people strategy, including hiring practices, leadership development and training programs.
  • Establish and maintain on and off-boarding strategies. 
  • Refine recruitment policies. 
  • Gather feedback on employee wellness and productivity to inform culture strategies. 
  • Help develop succession planning. 
  • Oversee company-wide communication with employees.
  • Manage employee benefit programs.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities of Chief People Officers

  • Oversee the big-picture strategy and daily operations of people and HR teams. 
  • Communicate with employees about company-wide initiatives. 
  • Collaborate with other executives to maintain hiring and employee engagement strategies. 

Chiefs People Officers Within a Company

The chief people officer is an executive role in charge of people or HR departments, depending on the structure and size of the company. This role typically reports to the CEO. 

Importance of Chief People Officers

Chief people officers are vital to a company maintaining its operations and reputation. They foster a positive company reputation by working with the CEO and other company leaders to develop wellness initiatives, rollout employee benefits and maintain hiring strategies.  


What Skills Are Needed to Be a Chief People Officer?

Qualifications to Be a Chief People Officer

  • Ability to act as a liaison between the CEO, department heads and employees. 
  • Extensive HR experience and knowledge of labor and employment law.
  • A high level of emotional intelligence. 
  • Ability to envision new policies for hiring with a focus on DEI. 
  • Ability to identify issues with complex systems, like payroll and performance evaluations, and propose and implement fixes. 
  • A firm grasp on business and industry trends as well as necessary regulations. 

Chief People Officer Prerequisites

  • Bachelor’s degree (and sometimes a master’s degree) in people management, HR management or a related field.  
  • Extensive experience working in HR and managing people.

Chief People Officer Hard Skills

  • People management and business acumen skills and knowledge. 
  • Financial budget planning and management for hiring and compensation strategy.
  • Ability to evaluate all aspects of a company’s people management systems and make recommendations and implement strategic changes.
  • Ability to use HR software tools, such as employee engagement platforms and applicant tracking systems.

Chief People Officer Soft Skills

  • Strong communication, presentation and interviewing skills.
  • Ability to keep a pulse on industry trends and business.  
  • Organization and prioritization skills. 
  • Interpersonal skills. 
  • Strong problem-solving skills.
  • Crisis management. 

Tools and Programs Chief People Officers Use

  • HR management platforms like BambooHR, Gusto, Paycom, Namely and Workday. 
  • Employee engagement platforms like 15Five, BetterUp, Bonusly and Culture Amp.
  • Hiring platforms like Notch, Entelo, Deel and Applied.
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How to Become a Chief People Officer

Chief People Officer Education and Experience

Chief people officers often have a bachelor’s degree in HR management or a related field. Before becoming a chief people officer, it’s important to have several years of experience working in people management and/or human resources as well as the ability to demonstrate success building and scaling employee programs. 

Chief People Officer Certificates and Courses

Chief People Officer Career Path

Chief people officers often begin their careers as HR coordinators or specialists before advancing to roles like HR director or VP of people. 


Chief People Officer Salary and Job Outlook

The job outlook for those working in HR is promising. The job growth rate for HR managers, a related field, will increase 7 percent by 2031. 

The full compensation package for a chief people officer depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the candidate’s experience and geographic location. See below for detailed information on the average chief people officer’s salary.


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