Changes in Behavioral Health: The Role of CHRO

Changes in Behavioral Health: The Role of CHRO

The healthcare industry is currently experiencing a worldwide shortage of workers. If this continues, more than 18 million positions may open by 2030, based on information from the World Health Organization. 

You may be wondering: who will contend with the brunt of this problem? The answer: A Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). 

Every CHRO in behavioral health is going to have the heavy task of finding solutions to overcome the workforce shortages. The HR function and capabilities for all HR departments now include more than hiring and retaining employees.

The senior leadership team will include a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) to set the talent management vision and direction in this new environment. Recruitment, interviewing, prospect engagement and onboarding take on an entirely different meaning in this environment and Chief HR executives needs to be more creative and innovative than ever before. Labor relations and employee satisfaction once new team members are onboarded are imperative for retention and for the organization’s success in building a self-renewing stream to accommodate growing and changing business structures.

In this article, we’ll tackle the importance of a CHRO role in the behavioral healthcare setting and understand what their role is in this ever-evolving industry. 

Chief Human Resources Officer | Jeri Davis International

What Is a CHRO?

Within an organization’s HR department, there are typically two senior leaders responsible for handling employees: the CHRO and the HR Director. While people conflate the two terms, there are very clear distinctions between the two. 

On the one hand, the CHRO is an HR specialist and the chief officer responsible for drafting and implementing human resources strategies to manage the company’s workforce. On the other hand, an HR Director is responsible for the organization’s daily HR operations, including recruitment, employee relations, and salary. 

The HR Director reports directly to the CHRO while the CHRO reports directly to the CEO, and works in close coordination with the CEO and other corporate executive team members to address critical talent shortages, establish an engaging culture, and create a plan to ensure current employees are trained and developed for both personal and organizational growth and advancement.

In essence, the CHRO’s plans of action must support the organization’s strategic direction and overall business plan, especially in terms of talent management, organizational and performance management, training, compensation, development, and succession planning. Because of this, they take on the leadership role of overseeing all human capital needs in relation to the organization’s broader plans.  

What Are the Responsibilities of the CHRO?

In the past, CHROs in healthcare settings focused mainly on transactional workforce-related activities, such as hiring, firing, record-keeping, and executing retirement and healthcare plans.

Today, the role of a CHRO in healthcare is not only more complex, CHROs today need to lead with transformational versus transactional skills. This means looking at all current HR strategic and daily functions through the lens of change management and by asking the questions:

  • Are we addressing workforce shortages creatively through targeting new talent populations (e.g., second career adults) and/or creating certification programs to bring more qualified and prepared staff into the organization at the BA level and then supporting them in getting advanced degrees?
  • Are team members current and comfortable with technology and how can our organization help better prepare employees to understand and embrace greater use of technology?
  • Do we have a culture that embraces or resists growth, and change?
  • How do we create a self and accepting culture that still challenges and rewards employees at all levels to share the philosophy that everyday is a learning opportunity?

These are just a few of the more dynamic responsibilities of CHROs in this new environment when it comes to hiring and retaining behavioral health employees especially in the wake of the pandemic in 2020, when senior HR executives had to address wellness issues including mental health, physical health, and burnout at astronomical rates.  To succeed and excel in this setting, effective and versatile chief human resources officers have to innovate and come up with strategies to not only ensure the safety of their employees but also create a conducive environment for all to thrive.  

Today, CHROs typically must perform the following HR functions:

  • Set organization-wide HR policy and goals.
  • Contribute to a healthy and conducive company culture to boost productivity, workflow, and employee retention. 
  • Lead recruitment efforts, promote workplace inclusion, and hire top-quality talent to meet the organization’s business goals. Stay up to date with industry trends and government regulations, as well as ensure compliance in terms of employment laws.
  • Ensure that HR plans align with the company’s mission, vision, and objectives. Advise C-suite executives and senior level managers on HR-related concerns and develop solutions and policies that target these concerns directly.
  • Coordinate with the human resources management and other leadership to resolve workplace conflicts.
  • Create, monitor, and evaluate training programs and development initiatives. 
  • Evaluate, analyze, and update existing policies in collaboration with employees and executive members. The Essential Skills That Ensure the Success of a CHRO

There’s no question that a CHRO has complex and elaborate responsibilities that require expert knowledge in both human resources and behavioral health fields. Below are some of the essential skills they need to master to succeed in the healthcare system.

Effective HR Leadership

As top HR professionals, CHROs need to have experience in managing not just people but also business processes as a whole as they inter-relate with talent acquisition and management. They need to understand talent management and their organization’s employees’ needs and provide change management resources with a written step by step guide for coaching people to achieve their highest productively.

Although CHRO is a corporate-level position, the individual must have the ability to connect and relate with employees at all levels throughout the organization. They are tasked with following their CEO’s agenda and must do so with an empathetic, understanding, and, in many cases, diplomatic approach. 

In essence, these leaders must be able to create a culture organization wide that promotes openness, transparency, and reliability. Only then, can they become effective leaders in the behavioral health field.

Cultural Vision

An experienced CHRO understands that the workforce is diverse and multi-faceted. The organization’s culture is made up of mixed attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, traditions, and behaviors that define the organization’s environment.  Therefore, a CHRO is responsible for cultivating and sustaining this vibrant culture by promoting respect and acceptance. Moreover, the policies that they decide to implement must cater to all employees’ cultural needs and well-being. In doing so, the CHRO can preserve a positive corporate culture, increase employee engagement and satisfaction, and promote customer loyalty. 

By achieving these objectives, the CHRO can, in turn, impact patient outcomes more positively. 

Business Acumen

As an HR leader, the CHRO works alongside key board members and corporate peers to create a successful organization. As such, they need to have strong communication capabilities and acute business instincts to advise the right HR policies. 

In addition, they must also have experience and expertise in handling various industry-specific responsibilities, like union contracts and insurance laws. To obtain these, they must work closely with the organization’s lawyers to ensure that the company complies with government regulations and industry standards. 

Ultimately, a CHRO must work for the betterment and achievement of the organization’s mission and the treatment needs of the patients’ they serve.

Talent Assessment

Being able to spot and develop great talent from a pool of candidates is one of the most critical skills of a CHRO. Talent assessment, after all, is a key element when it comes to recruitment, career development, performance management, and succession planning. This skill holds more influence in the healthcare industry where talent is often specialized and can impact the patients’ lives. 

Finding the right talent involves more than just assigning a person to the right position. It also means developing their skills to redeploy them to new roles. Since there is a shortage of talent in the healthcare sector, finding talent that can adapt to different roles is essential to the growth of the company. 

Adaptability and Flexibility

Much like how employees need to be versatile enough to take on different roles, a CHRO also needs to be adaptable and flexible to cater to the evolving needs of the organization. They need to be able to step back from a crisis and look at the problem from a broader point of view so they can address the matter with long-term and sustainable results in mind. 

To do this, they need to anticipate the trends, needs, and options available to them, rather than simply reacting without considering all angles. Likewise, they need to listen to feedback and modify their plans to produce the desired outcomes. Their openness and willingness to change can make a difference in the organization’s performance. 

Analytical Mindset

In addition to these skills, a CHRO must have ample knowledge and a clear understanding of reading and analyzing data. Data contains a wealth of information regarding the strengths and weaknesses of an organization, as well as the effectiveness of an HR policy. Because of this, being able to comprehend what the numbers mean and translate them into a concrete business strategy is one of the most vital skill sets of a CHRO today. 

Chief People Officer | Jeri Davis International

How Are CHROs Pivotal in the Behavioral Health Setting?

At this point, you know what a CHRO does and what skills they need to obtain to provide substantially to the company. But what do these details mean specifically in a behavioral health treatment setting ? How does a CHRO play an instrumental role in enhancing your behavioral health organization? Health and behavioral health treatment settings have many more regulations, as well as professional licensing, skill requirements, and training  that define scope of practice from quality, credentialling and legal perspectives. Senior HR executives need to be well versed not only on these requirements but they must also understand the nuances, politics, professional philosophies that lead to or disrupt effective teamwork across disciplines.

With their skill set, a trained and experienced behavioral health CHRO can quickly pick-up what is causing friction between departments or professions, and provide appropriate guidance to create solutions which are agreeable across disciplines and specialists. Team building skills, diplomacy and industry knowledge are essential to the success of a Behavioral Health CHRO.  

CHRO: The Key to Success in Behavioral Health

CHROs play a pivotal and transformational role in the behavioral health setting. Their roles and responsibilities as HR leaders are a crucial part of an organization’s decision-making process and success. That’s why we believe that a CHRO is indispensable in the behavioral health industry. 

More than finding the right talent and initiating new hires, these HR leaders are responsible for developing policies and influencing positive change in the workplace setting to ensure employee retention and growth.

JDi Can Help You Find Your Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)

For over 34 years Jeri Davis and team have been finding C-Suite positions throughout the behavioral health industry. Whether you are seeking a CHRO, Chief People Officer, Chief Talent Officer or Human Resource Executive, we can find you the best fit for your organization.

JDi Healthcare Consultant & Recruiters specialize in finding financial capital companies and behavioral healthcare organizations the best corporate officers, executive vice presidents, CEOs, and other C-suite leaders.