HR leaders are known by many names: Chief human resources officer, chief people officer, chief administrative officer, just to name a few. But a few years ago, Amex took it a step further when it gave Monique Herena the title of chief colleague experience officer.

At a time when companies are adding a plethora of gimmicky titles to the C-suite, American Express’s name change could come off as superficial. But Herena says it reflects a broader business pivot, and reimagining of the HR function.

“It wasn’t anything where we just wanted to come up with the next cool name,” Herena tells Fortune. “For HR, it was a strategic decision related to the Amex vision and strategy.”

The change came soon after Steve Squeri became chairman and CEO of American Express in early 2018. He established a new vision for the company to “provide the world’s best customer experience every day,” and hired Herena for the top HR role in early 2019. She worked with Squeri and the company’s management team to rethink the HR function as a kind of product team focused on the employee experience, to reflect alignment with Amex’s new vision. The title change for her and the heads of other major functions followed accordingly.

“You spend a lot of time at work. What is your experience like?” she says. “Just like we would for a consumer on our app: What’s easy? What’s hard to do? How do you access certain things quickly and seamlessly so you know where to go for what? We had a lot of work to do, end-to-end, on the experience. Just like we would on a customer journey, we looked at our colleague journeys as well.”

To be sure, American Express’s HR function, now called the colleague experience group, still performs the same basic tasks any HR team does, like payroll and benefits administration. But that new emphasis on the employee as a customer led to new programs like streamlining the application process to go on leave, expanding benefits programs in areas like mental health and family medical care, more recognition from HR for milestone achievements like getting a promotion, and launching several internal HR products. The “Career Growth Model,” for example, provides a leadership development framework available to all employees. Herena says it’s been a hit with both existing employees and prospective candidates.

“The model, as we built it, has really helped colleagues think through where they’ve been, how they want to grow, and what support they need from us to get there,” Herena says. “It’s been wildly successful as a recruiting tool as well, because I think people love having a plan and really reflecting and demystifying career growth, especially in any large company.”

Paige McGlauflin

Today’s edition was curated by Emma Burleigh.

Around the Table

A round-up of the most important HR headlines.

A union representing over 23,000 U.S. flight attendants unanimously rejected a 17% wage hike from American Airlines, and said the raise didn’t address all concerns wanted in a complete contract. Reuters

A former Meta software engineer who is Palestinian American is suing the company for wrongful termination and discrimination, alleging he was fired for raising concerns over Instagram suppressing Palestinian posts. Washington Post

Due to hybrid work sticking around, a growing number of commercial office buildings are foreclosing or facing distress—and experts think things will get worse in the coming months. New York Times

A former OpenAI researcher alleged in a podcast that he was fired from the company in April because he “ruffled some feathers” by sharing a memo with board members outlining safety risks. Business Insider


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Autonomous paradise. A software company says AI assistants could guarantee “a workplace utopia” as employees can use copilots to improve workflows, productivity, and connectivity within a business. —John Kell

Braving boundaries. Despite having criticized Gen Z workers’ work ethic and professional etiquette, Jodie Foster says she admires the young generation for saying “no” when they’re uncomfortable and wishes she did so at their age. —Orianna Rosa Royle

Surveilled shopping. T.J. Maxx is equipping store employees with body cameras, reasoning it will help deter shoplifting, as the company attempts to counteract loss of inventory or “shrink.” —Chris Morris

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