Rise of the Chief People Officer: Evolution of the Role
While the chief people officer (CPO) is a role that has always been common in the tech and startup worlds, in recent years it has begun to make an appearance on the leadership teams of home-based care providers.
Broadly, the CPO occupies what was once a human resources (HR) role and widens the scope of the position significantly. The CPO works directly with the CEO.
“One of our primary responsibilities is making sure that we work in concert with the executive team and other leaders to have a people-based strategy that allows us to accomplish the business goals,” David Cook Jr., executive vice president and CPO at AccentCare, told Home Health Care News. “Chief people officer evolved from human resources roles. It’s become much more of a strategic role than it was in the past.”
Cook joined Dallas-based AccentCare — one of the largest providers of home-based care in the country — and took the helm of the company’s people operations in October.
On his end, Adam Holton stepped into the CPO role at Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) in September. With more than 20 years of relevant experience under his belt, he has also seen the role evolve.
“If you go back in time and look at the ’70s, the HR function in the United States was mainly about labor, being able to sort of manage through unions and big labor agreements,” Holton told HHCN. “I think in the ’80s, it seemed to shift into being about compensation, benefits, total rewards and how an organization differentiated itself for employees. In the ’90s, my view of our overall function is that HR became about business partnership: ‘How could I partner with the business to really understand what was most important?’”