CHROs Most Concerned About Maintaining Culture and Engagement

Community Blog
Written by Jason Larson

AUGUST 31, 2021

While the hype of “Hot Vax Summer” has dimmed with the recent spike in the Delta variant of Covid-19, top HR leaders are striking a balance between responding to new government guidelines and fixing their eyes on the future enterprise. 

CHROs are grappling with their approach to vaccine mandates and adjusting timelines for return-to-office. They’re fleshing out long-term hybrid workforce strategies and integrating holistic employee health and well-being programs. And, most notably, navigating the Great Resignation.  

To better understand CHRO’s top priorities and their view on the return to a new “normal,” we recently captured the sentiment of our CHRO communities through a pulse survey. Here are six things we learned from 300-plus HR leaders. 

1. Highly Concerned About Employee Engagement. 

When asked about their top business concerns, 81% of CHROs selected “maintaining culture and engagement.” This data point is inextricably linked with the growing pains (and sometimes myths) around remote work. See key learning #4 below.


2. Returning to the Office. 

On their timeline for returning to the office, 45% of HR leaders said they have “some employees back in the office now.” Others plan to return to the office in less than three months (24%) or in three to six months (18%). While these timelines may have adjusted for some organizations due to the Delta variant, the trendline here is that most organizations are eager to utilize their office space and foster face-to-face interactions, at least part of the time. 

3. Future of Remote Work. 

On the future of remote work at their organizations, 76% of CHROs report that their companies will offer some type of hybrid option between remote work and the office. Only 6% of CHROs say remote work will not be an option going forward. The overwhelming majority of organizations moving to a hybrid workforce illuminates the new war for talent. 

4. Long-Term Effects of Remote Work. 

Regarding their top concerns about the long-term effects of working remotely, 50% of HR leaders are most concerned about their ability to maintain company culture, followed by team communication and alignment (24%). Interestingly, employee burnout and/or morale was the top concern for only 8% of respondents. 

5. Business Travel 

Only 31% of CHROs have resumed business travel, while another 26% plan to travel in less than three months. Again, with the rise in the Delta variant, I would expect these numbers to skew a bit more conservative as some companies adjust their approach to business travel. 

6. In-Person Events

Overall, HR leaders are cautiously optimistic about returning to in-person events and meetings. 69% of respondents are very excited or somewhat excited about returning to in-person gatherings.


When looking closer at this qualitative data, CHROs are keen on adopting a hybrid approach to events like hybrid workplaces. Anecdotally, HR leaders are ready to embrace the change in how they teach, learn, and stay connected as a community.  


Like the hybrid working place, let's also make our community and shared learning go hybrid… We now know that either way works, so the combination of the two must be the future.”

I think it's important that we don't simply ‘return to the way things were’ at work or events. We need to challenge the old norms and role model a new, more flexible approach to work.”


I am ready to get back to in-person meetings, but when they make sense. The world has changed, and I hope the ability to use technology as we have the past year continues.”


Depending on the current Covid situation, I would be excited to attend in-person gatherings this year, and equally happy to have a virtual attendance option – hybrid and inclusive!”


You can view all the results from our June pulse survey here. For more information about our community gatherings, you can check our Calendar page or find your regional Evanta community here on our website. 


Jason Larson headshot

Jason Larson

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company


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