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2020 – The Unplanned Year

We were pleased to host the latest edition of our “Germany HR Leaders Talk Show”, at the end of September.

In our last talk show, in June, the summer had just started and we were taking stock of how life had changed. In this edition, the topics and the opinions took on a very different viewpoint. Our hosts René Rosso and Dr. Frieder Rummel were delighted to welcome three key senior HR leaders, based in Germany.

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

The discussion was insightful and inspirational, and at times even a little controversial and provocative. Here a couple of examples of subjects and questions that were addressed:

  • While the public discussion has more or less declared death of the traditional office, there was a strong view that there is still room for improvement for HR in Germany to make remote working a sustainable success model. Roland Hehn’s view was that there are still a number of questions that need to be answered and that “HR must have a closer look and develop customised, maybe even department specific, solutions to create value and to create benefits for companies”.
  • Despite the above, 73% of our audience said that remote working has not impact impacted productivity and 43% said productivity has in fact increased. However, Cora Koppe-Stahrenberg made an interesting point in that “we need to understand why people are so productive at the moment” to ensure that we don’t over rely on exceptional circumstances and end up in a productivity slump.
  • Collaboration and innovation are seen as key risk areas in remote working models which need to be addressed. Jan-Harald Fuchs said “that sustainable home working is a Pandora’s box….” and that “this level of productivity that we have shown at the beginning of the crisis is not sustainable”.
  • New organisational models have been forced into businesses as a result of the pandemic aftermath. Roland Hehn sees more decentralised decision making as “the most significant change and learning we will experience”.
  • While the US racial equality discussion may seem far away from Germany, 43% of our audience said it will “have a deep impact on diversity and inclusion”. Cora Koppe-Stahrenberg advocated that “Inclusion and Diversity is too important to not leverage the increased attention for all diverse groups”. A question from the audience alluded to the analogy to the refugee situation in Germany.
  • All our panellists are convinced that 2020 continues to be a year of unusually intense learning and change, with a sustainable impact on the way we will work in the future. As Jan-Harald Fuchs said “… this is the time to improve the underlying agility of an organisation…

The views from our panel and their stories were insightful and have certainly led to additional discussion within our own ChapmanCG world.

And their final words

In twenty years from now, looking back to the year 2020, I am convinced that we will all realise that in 2020 many good things had their start. Maybe it’s flexible working, maybe it’s decentralised structures. Many positive trends will have started in 2020. We should focus on all these positive opportunities and take those opportunities rather than focussing on all the difficulties we currently have.

Roland Hehn

I think this crisis, the pandemic, and the ripple effects, the second and third waves, the issues we will face in the economies or in society, they will go on. And that’s the time of learning for an organisation, that’s the time for businesses to do two things. Focus on their key purpose but also adjust, if required, the delivery this key purpose. The business model, the service model. This is the time to improve the underlying agility of an organisation and experiment.

Jan-Harald Fuchs

I’d say flexibility and an open mindset are more important, more required than ever. If we ever needed a case for a change mindset, this is it and I don’t think it’s going away. And that is required not only from companies, not only from HR but from all employees. We are in this together and maybe this togetherness will drive more change and make things better.

Cora Koppe-Stahrenberg

If you couldn’t attend our Talk Show live, enjoy a partial recording here:

HR Leaders Talk Show Recording


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