WHEN MEETING big brand-new obstacles, president frequently turn to a convenient tool: producing fresh executive functions. This helps channel resources to pushing problems and draw in talent. It signals to personnel and the wider world that managers understand what actually matters (and care about it).
In some cases, it ends up looking farcical– remember the expansion of “chief listening officers” a years back, as companies sought to react to social-media chatter? But certain contemporary C-suite functions do catch on; no self-respecting corporation can do without a chief sustainability officer nowadays. A few business positions that have actually gained prominence during an especially troubled 2020 are almost certainly here to stay.
The most apparent example is “primary medical officer”. Long common in markets where safety is an abiding concern (mining, state), health supremos are now being hired more widely, says Tony Lee of the Society for Personnel Management, a trade association. The pandemic is far from over, red tape around sick leave is becoming more twisted as an outcome of it, and mental-health issues among employees are likely to outlast the plague.
Another emerging function is that of “primary remote officer”, accountable for designing policies and disseminating finest practices for home-working. Being successful could …