In the November 2022 People + Strategy podcast, Ola Snow, CHRO of Cardinal Health, talks about the post-pandemic changes to the workplace and to the CHRO role.
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While remote work is impossible for Cardinal Health employees who work with patients, many of the company's office-based staff have tasted remote work and are requesting more flexibility in their work locations and schedules.
"There's a lot of push back. I call it this tug of war a little bit," said Ola Snow, CHRO of the Ohio-based health care company, in the recent of People + Strategy podcast.
"Our relationship with the office has changed somewhat," Snow said. "And through listening to our employees, we learned that a lot of them preferred to have flexibility in where they worked. And for that, we morphed to more of a hybrid environment for many of our employees. Now we are less focused on where employees are getting their work done, but rather focused on helping employees create environments where they can be successful."
Rather than setting a rigid hybrid schedule, Snow said the company created a concept called "Moments that Matter" to focus on getting maximum benefit from the hours that employees gather in the office.
"Moments that Matter really is about when are the times that are critical for us to be together. That could be welcoming new teammates, mentoring sessions or meetings with customers," Snow said. "Flexibility is here to stay."
Employees required to come to the workplace each day are also requesting flexibility. And Cardinal is working to provide that, too, by allowing more leeway on shift times and employee scheduling.
The Changing Role of the CHRO
The pandemic also led to changes in the role of the CHRO at Cardinal and in organizations nationwide.
"CEOs are finally seeing CHROs as business leaders, not just as functional leaders," said Snow, who noted that HR leaders played a key role during the pandemic in safety, risk management and new labor issues.
"I think the role is viewed a little bit differently, and those perceptions have changed because of some of those challenges. I think COVID quite frankly changed that," she added. "I spent a lot of time over the last year or so with our board of directors talking about human capital risks, about how culture is enhancing our business results. … Now you see CHROs joining more public boards. You see the word 'culture' show up in every single board [PowerPoint] deck."
Snow says the experience of the past few years has caused the C-suite to look to CHROs for more big-picture planning and strategy.
"[CHROs] think about some of the challenges of the workforce of tomorrow, like what does work even look like?," Snow said. "So I get to not only sit beside my CEO talking about how our culture enhances and enables the best business results, but also what are the things we need to do in five years to meet our business and customer needs?"
Snow credits her experience working in different roles at Cardinal Health with allowing her to have a holistic view of the company's functions and finances—a skill that is essential for CHROs these days.
"I spent a lot of time with our business leaders in my career as a business partner, and then moving into a leadership role," Snow said. "I really became a student of the business and had to know a lot about more things than just those business partner roles that I had done. So I do think it's great for us as leaders, especially those on a journey to be a CHRO, to have different experiences along your career path. Be humble and realize you don't know every single thing. Focus on learning new skills, but also new leadership opportunities along the way."
More Key Takeaways from Ola Snow in the People + Strategy Podcast
Listen to the full People + Strategy podcast
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