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The role of a CHRO in a Family Business


CHRO and the Family Business Tree

In large family-owned businesses, the importance of strategic human resources cannot be overstated. As stewards of enterprises with valuations exceeding $1 billion and workforces with thousands of employees, family business owners face unique challenges that require well thought-out, strategic responses. These enterprises stand at a crossroads where the preservation of family values intersects with the realities of global competition, technological innovation, and evolving workforce dynamics. It is here that the need for a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) on the leadership team becomes not just beneficial, but essential.

A CHRO brings a forward-looking perspective to managing the company’s most valuable asset—its people. This role transcends traditional HR functions by focusing on strategic talent management, organizational design, and leadership development, all aimed at aligning the workforce with the culture and long-term goals of the business. By doing so, a CHRO ensures that the organization is not merely reacting to market changes, but proactively preparing for the future, safeguarding the company’s legacy while driving innovation and growth.

The CHRO can bring Role Clarity and Systems of Accountability to the Family Business

The CHRO plays a pivotal role in establishing clear job roles and accountability mechanisms throughout the organization. In large, complex family businesses, the delineation of responsibilities and expectations is fundamental to operational efficiency and employee satisfaction. By ensuring that each team member understands their role and how it contributes to the company's objectives, the HR leader fosters a sense of purpose and alignment across the workforce.


The CHRO can Reduce the Cost of Employment

One of the most tangible benefits of having a CHRO on your leadership team is the significant reduction in employment costs. This is achieved through strategic initiatives aimed at reducing turnover—by enhancing employee engagement and satisfaction—and streamlining the organizational structure to eliminate redundancies. Such measures not only reduce direct costs but also contribute to a more agile and responsive organizational framework.


The CHRO can Reduce Legal Liabilities

Navigating the complex web of employment law and regulations poses a significant challenge for large family businesses. A CHRO brings the expertise required to ensure compliance with labor laws and employment standards, thereby reducing the risk of costly legal liabilities. This proactive legal compliance serves not only to protect the company's financial interests but also to uphold its reputation among employees, customers, and the wider community.


The CHRO can Optimize Compensation and Benefits Plans

An effective compensation and benefits strategy is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent, especially in competitive markets. A Strategic HR Officer can tailor these plans to meet the unique needs of the organization and its workforce, ensuring that the company remains an attractive employer while also managing costs efficiently.


The CHRO can Plan Staffing for the Future

In the face of rapid technological advancements and shifting market dynamics, preparing the workforce for future challenges is paramount. A CHRO is instrumental in identifying the skills and competencies required for the company's long-term success and implementing strategies to close any gaps. This includes talent development programs, succession planning, and strategic hiring practices.


The CHRO can Enshrine the Culture and Values of the Family Business

Of the most distinctive aspects of family-held companies are their cultures and values, often reflecting the family's beliefs and aspirations. A CHRO ensures that these core values are embedded in the fabric of the organization's operations, from hiring practices to daily business activities. This alignment between family values and corporate practices strengthens the company's identity and fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty among employees.


The CHRO can assist with Succession Planning

For family businesses, succession planning is not just a strategic imperative but a matter of survival. The strategic HR Officer plays a critical role in this process, ensuring that the business has a pipeline of capable leaders ready to take the helm. This involves identifying and nurturing talent within the organization, aligning the succession plan with the family's vision and values for the business, and sometimes, critically, helping family leaders understand their own mortality.



The appointment of a Chief Human Resources Officer to the leadership team of large family businesses is not merely an operational necessity but a strategic investment in the company's future. Through their expertise in human capital management, strategic planning, and organizational development, they provide the leadership necessary to navigate the complexities of today's business environment. By ensuring role clarity, reducing employment costs, mitigating legal risks, optimizing compensation plans, and preparing the organization for future challenges, the Strategic HR Officer plays a pivotal role in sustaining the company's growth and legacy. Furthermore, by enshrining the family's values and culture within the organization and guiding succession planning, they ensure that the business remains true to its roots while poised for future success. For family business owners, the decision to integrate a Strategic HR Officer into their leadership team is not just wise—it's indispensable for long-term prosperity and legacy preservation.


About Stranberg

We are a 2nd Gen Family Owned and Operated business based in Chicago, Il. Our team advises families and founders on critical talent and executive search issues. You can learn more about us at:



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