Fractional CHROs - The HR Heroes Who Have Been Around for Millennia

Fractional CHROs - The HR Heroes Who Have Been Around for Millennia

Mar 2024

It’s no secret that emerging companies face the unenviable challenge of achieving a lot with limited budgets. This is especially true for companies in their growth stage where they need to hire specific talent, sometimes at scale to get them to the next level. Having a strategic talent acquisition plan to build a capable team is a fundamental requirement that can make or break your company.


This is why it’s crucial to work with a senior talent leader or a CHRO - Chief Human Resources Officer. CHROs are an integral part of leadership teams. They meet on-ground HR needs and lay the foundation for a successful long-term HR department. But CHROs don’t come cheap. Hiring the wrong one can be a recipe for disaster. Asking someone with operational HR expertise to run strategic initiatives can have long-term consequences. This is where a fractional CHRO can help.

Fractional hiring is a strategic solution for growing companies with tight budgets. For these companies, a sourcing problem is usually a ‘marketing’ problem. Fractional CHROs are experienced professionals who offer interim, part-time or project-based HR leadership. They bridge the gap between immediate challenges and long-term departmental needs. They provide high-level strategic guidance, akin to full-time C-suite professionals, and rarely take up routine tasks. They have the skills to engage with the leadership team while offering hands-on HR consultancy and training.

“Our personal experiences play an outsized role in defining who we become. The psychological shift from believing that “I am my work”, to appreciating that, in fact, “My work is an expression of me”, is now under way.” - Aki Taha

This lends well to what fractional CHROs bring to the table. They relish the chance to apply their expertise and experiences across diverse industries. They find fulfillment in delivering value to multiple companies in a short time. They love the high of problem solving without being bound by a company’s culture or biases.

The world’s first fractional CHRO

If you think fractional hiring is a new phenomenon fueled by the gig economy, let’s go back in time. By 4,500 years.

The year is 2560 bce and Khufu, an ancient Egyptian monarch, wants to build the 450-feet tall Great Pyramid of Giza. The project employed an average of 13,200 workers and a peak workforce of 40,000 over a period of 23 years.

If you’re wondering who oversaw this massive workforce, it was a man named Ankhaf. He was the half-brother of Khufu and his vizier. Today, Ankhaf would be known as the world’s first fractional CHRO. Back then he was simply called “chief for all the works of the king”.

Ankhaf managed thousands of workers as they built the world’s tallest structure. Be it surveying and excavation, obtaining building materials, transportation or workforce logistics - he made sure everything was on point. Ankhaf ensured the workers were paid on time, got their bonuses and relocation packages, and implemented DEI frameworks. 

Modern full-time CHROs would crumble under the pressure. But not Ankhaf. And here we are.


Why fractional CHROs are a viable option for companies

Emerging companies that are balancing resources and contemplating their next strategic move regularly turn to fractional CHROs for HR innovation and efficiency. These specialists offer expert advice to navigate complex HR challenges and a sense of shared purpose.

They don’t demand full-time salaries or benefits. So companies can meet their holistic HR needs faster, cheaper and better with fractional CHROs. They minimize their hiring risks by entering the top level of the talent market.

For startups operating in a competitive landscape, the sooner they bring in HR expertise, the better. It’s well known that getting teams in place earlier helps achieve business outcomes faster. Having the right candidates at the top of the hiring funnel is beneficial. Well-run teams lend a degree of precision that enables startups to remain true to their core. They remain agile and make the most of their resources.

High-impact, company-specific deliverables

On Wizly, fractional CHROs like Aki helps startups prevent hiring pitfalls and improve talent acquisition through a replicable comprehensive, company-specific hiring and interviewing framework that applies for all roles.

This includes:

  1. Generate a clear, well-written JD that will draw quality candidates and defining a simple, repeatable and intentional hiring process for new roles
  2. Conduct interview training to hiring managers on the fundamentals of interviewing, and how to use the hiring criteria to assess candidates well
  3. Generating a list of high-quality questions to assess for each criterion

Aki’s hands-on guidance as a fractional CHRO allows the team to address talent challenges at its root: hiring right. This replicable framework ensures consistency in the interview process and assessment, and a better match between candidates and companies.


Another challenge growth-stage companies often face is setting salaries for new roles. Fractional CHRO and HR/DEI consultant Orin Davis offers a talent acquisition package that streamlines the hiring process, from job design to onboarding, including specific deliverables like drafting offer letters and designing an effective onboarding process. 

In a recent project with a rapidly expanding international tech company, he was able to develop benchmarks for each new role over five weeks, considering aspects like existing salary data, job descriptions, requirements, and market trends. These benchmarks were rooted in the company's compensation philosophy and culture, and were so successful that they’ve been able to apply the same methods for related positions in other countries and business areas.

Overhead costs

The single biggest factor why companies pursue fractional CHROs. Typically, a full-time CHRO draws a substantial salary. For candidates who have worked with larger companies, the price goes up. Once you add health benefits, bonuses, development costs and incentives - it reaches a different level. Companies then naturally opt for someone less experienced and give them responsibilities beyond their pay scale. This is usually where it begins to go wrong. 

Fractional CHROs cost significantly less in terms of hiring, training and professional development costs. Their cost falls anywhere between one-third to half of a full-time CHRO. Hiring seasoned and HR pros at a fraction of the cost is simply a no-brainer for emerging companies well-versed with optimization of resources. They know how to do more with less. Such companies scale efficiently and give on-ground HR teams the support they need. They do it without burning cash and risking non-compliance. They reduce the financial and organizational cost of hiring the wrong candidates and bring forth efficient hiring decisions. 

Top talent

A quick LinkedIn search shows 54,000 fractional CHROs. The availability and quality of HR leaders available as fractional CHROs is huge. It gives emerging companies the opportunity to lean on top talent that has worked on challenging projects. Smaller HR departments can learn from experienced leaders at a cost the business can afford. At the same time, companies can maintain a healthy HR-to-employee ratio of about 2.5 per 100 full-time employees in a creative way. This provides a roadmap into how to scale HR teams.

Agile decision making

Fractional CHROs come in with a few key objectives and a fresh perspective. Their unbiased opinion is often crucial for driving initiatives without being delayed by compliance or hierarchical challenges. They can adapt to evolving needs. Be it firefighting during growth or downturns, building strategic HR roadmaps or tackling urgent employee situations - they can do it all. Fractional CHROs operate with a flexibility that full-time hires struggle to implement. Fractional CHROs come armed with diverse professional and personal experiences that give them a well-rounded approach to solving complex challenges. By nature of their title, fractional CHROs can balance complex projects and flourish in an uncertain environment where out-of-the-box thinking can be a precursor to success.

Optics and culture

It’s important to remember the optics of hiring a fractional CHRO. For a growing team, it’s an indication that the company cares enough about their benefits, development and more. Fractional hires can boost employee morale through employer brand building and culture setting. Any workforce will be happier and healthier with effective HR management, irrespective of its fractional nature. This leads to more engagement, which positively impacts culture and the bottom line. Fractional CHROs also develop internal HR teams by training them on acquisition, engagement, diversity and inclusion and more.

Conclusion

The modern business landscape is competitive and ruthless. Incremental changes add up to make companies sustainable. In this regard, HR leaders are a must-have. They align company goals, talent and culture in a cohesive way. They drive performance that keeps companies ticking. They deal with the challenge of multiple generations with different values working together.

Fractional CHROs have emerged as a transformative solution in an uncertain environment. It is a method that is time-tested, affordable, requires less commitment - it simply works. It enables founders to hire relevant and culture-aligned candidates and avoid common hiring risks.

If you want to learn the nuances of fractional hiring, Aki Taha’s framework will save you hours. Aki will share real-life stories from the front lines of team building for Google, Uber and Netflix in their early days. You will learn practical ways to hire right and avoid common hiring risks. The Wizly Amplify sessions are scheduled in Singapore for March 22 and April 18.  See you there!

The following blog has been written by Wizly Expert Rahul Thadani.

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