As preoccupied as human resources professionals may be with planning the reopening of offices and factories, they can’t afford to ignore the need to retrain and reskill workers says the CEO of one of the world’s largest HR organizations.

“Every HR officer should look at their talent needs and become a chief reskilling officer,” says WorldatWork CEO Scott Cawood.

In a commentary for HRDive, Cawood said the need to retrain the nation’s workforce for the digital economy was clear long ago, yet businesses were slow to take action. “We tripped, and stumbled, and then a global pandemic pulled the rug out from under us. We need to get back up, and fast.”

The COVID-19 crisis only accelerated the computerization and automation that was replacing rote work and changing the nature of millions of jobs, he says. Now, as workplaces begin to reopen, many returning workers will find them a very different place transformed not just by hygiene considerations, but “by the sweeping changes that were already in play and now accelerated.”

“Post COVID-19, every organization and role will feel a bit different and multiple roles will need to be tweaked,” Cawood says, making resilience and reskilling “critical competencies” for companies to be successful.

Sending workers to occasional training classes isn’t enough anymore. “We must bring the reskilling inside our workplaces,” he says, insisting reskilling must be made “the new normal every 6 to 12 months.”

The responsibility is HR’s. “HR leaders will need to steer companies right into the face of disruption without hesitation or remorse,” Cawood declares. “Instead of focusing on job descriptions, performance reviews and annual incentives, HR leaders can take the time right now and build new thinking, new capabilities, and new strategies, and plan to invest in reskilling now.”

Acknowledging the important role HR has in reopening workplaces, Cawood says “’t has an even bigger role to play in the massive reskilling of workers.

“Perhaps,” he says in closing, “This is a unique opportunity for HR to have its truest and most significant moment and do both?”

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash


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Green Key

More Vulnerable, Women CEOs Negotiate More Severance

When it comes to severance agreements for CEOs, the gender gap works against men. Women who lead publicly held companies negotiate severance packages more than half as rich as their male counterparts.

Good news? Not really, say researchers, who not only studied the size of these agreements, but also the reasons for the disparity.

“Pre-employment severance agreements reflect the heightened concern of prospective female CEOs that they are more vulnerable to being dismissed,” says Pierre Chaigneau, one of the three researchers whose study was published in November in the Journal of Management.

Writing about their findings, Chaigneau notes the statistics support women’s fears of being terminated.

“Female CEOs are 45% more likely to be fired than their male counterparts,” he says. “Previous research has shown that a man’s competence is often assumed in leadership roles while a woman’s competence is generally questioned. And female CEOs are more likely to be blamed when their organizations struggle, and are much more likely to be targeted by activist investors.”

To protect themselves, women negotiate higher severance agreements. For struggling organizations, their severance payout is higher still. Men got no premium for taking on a company with flagging performance.

The researchers found one exception: The severance gap was smaller in industries where women CEOs were more numerous or where there were women on the board.

“The takeaway for boards is that if they really want to bring women into the executive suite, they can use the severance agreement as a recruiting tool to compensate women for the obstacles that they will inevitably face,” Chaigneau says.

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash


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Green Key