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HR Leaders Talk Show – A Year of Two Halves

We were excited to host our first edition of the “HR Leaders Talk Show” Germany in June. This live and interactive online panel event met to discuss:

“A year of two halves – what should HR focus on now?”

We know that 2020 continues to be a unique year. As we move into the summer, there will still be more questions than answers on the burning topics of this next phase, and what the role of HR will be in shaping a different future.

For the panel, our hosts René Rosso and Dr. Frieder Rummel were delighted to welcome five HR leaders, based in Germany.

A full recording of the event can be found at the bottom of this article.

Here are some of the key learnings:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic functioned as a catalyst in accelerating future planning strategies. Many organisations had to implement new policies and procedures simultaneously, such as remote and flexible working arrangements. It also meant that they needed to shift how they assess roles. We have been used to seeing those roles as critical which require business critical skills, skills that drive strategy and the development of the company. A new view on this has emerged from the crisis: Roles can well be critical for the business without requiring such critical skills. An example is the role of a Senior IT Administrator. These roles do not require critical skills and have often been outsourced. The pandemic has shown that this role is critical and should be kept internally, as it is absolutely vital for the functioning of work flows in a crisis.
  • The first part of 2020 saw HR focusing on emergency topics to manage the crisis, the second half will be defined by managing a way out if it. This will bring a lot of opportunities and will help HR play a “front office role”. Two major aspects are important at the moment: reopening the office whilst paying close attention to new health and hygiene requirements, and still ensuring a ‘pleasant working environment’. The other, is to define the new way of working as there will be no going back to traditional office presence as flexibility and remote working is still a necessity.
  • We learnt that before the crisis, it was estimated that 10-25% of employees in Germany worked from home part-time. Now there is an expectation that at least 50% will still be working from home (some research even predicts up to 70-80% in certain sectors). This presents a lot of opportunities not just for employees to have a better work-life-balance but it also gives companies the possibility to redefine their real estate footprint and subsequently save cost.
  • Flexible and agile working, however, cannot replace the immediateness of interaction. Questions for Human Resources Managers is to think about how to address issues in interpersonal interactions; how to blend the online and offline working worlds in order to create random and spontaneous interaction: how to initiate the casual chat over coffee between different workgroups that spark new ideas? One thought, was that in a purely virtual working model, virtual lobbies where people can ‘meet’ must be created.
  • The circumstances of the first half of 2020 can be likened to a giant assessment center, it showed leadership capabilities and shortcomings, and let HR efficiently decide which attributes are critical, such as resilience, stress management and the empowerment of employees. The window of opportunity for quickly reacting to those needs has opened wider and should be used immediately by HR leaders.
  • The way to a transformed future must be to find a way to handle the balance between urgent needs of the business, and the need to retain relevant capabilities within the organisation. Before any necessary adjustments to the business are undertaken relevant skillsets, capabilities and talent must be identified. Only with this preparation can a company not only handle the current crisis, but also redefine itself in order to be ready for the new normal.
  • Looking ahead on the path to the new normality it is not going to be linear, it will have curves, left and right turns, and we will have to be ready for spontaneous actions and changes, for a considerable period of time.

HR Leaders Talk Show Recording

We would like to thank everyone attending our Talk Show and of course our panellists.

If you would like to discuss any of the points from our event, or just like to talk through any of your HR challenges (and successes!) feel free to contact René or Frieder directly.


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