HR Leaders Talk Show Germany – The State of HR in 2021

We were pleased to host the first 2021 edition of our Germany HR Leaders Talk Show.

Our hosts René Rosso and Dr. Frieder Rummel were delighted to welcome an engaged audience from many industries, and three senior HR Leaders as panellists:

If you couldn’t attend our Talk Show live, enjoy the recording at the end of this article.

With our subject The State of HR in 2021 we were of course also interested in a comparison to the turbulent year of 2020.

The audience expressed, in a couple of polls, optimism for 2021, and confirmed that many companies have left crisis mode and are planning for the future.

Here are a couple of key insights from our panellists, a full recording of the event can be found at the bottom of this article.

Felicitas von Kyaw pointed out that the crisis has shown that when everybody pulls together things can be achieved faster than expected, specifically, remote work and digital collaboration, which worked well, taking a big leap on future ways of working.

Also, that our working world will not be the same as before, and that future work models will be hybrid and flexible.

Björn Kastl sees the term “people and culture” as more fitting during these times than traditional HR umbrella as people centricity is key. People are no longer “just employees” but are seen in a much broader context, e.g. employees as parents.

Dr. Janin Schwartau thinks that the key transformation challenge is being lean and agile at the same time, to be efficient and still able to respond to customer demands very quickly and effectively. The struggle on finding the right balance between the two is also visible in decisions on centralising and decentralising. This does often seem to go back and forth, and leaders need to find the right process for their company.

Personal development is changing, and Felicitas reflected that a career will mean something different in the future. She sees “portfolio careers” coming where people regularly move to different roles in different environments, under different constellations. Company investments in employees need to occur more quickly and more regularly. Employees need become “their own talent manager”.

Given the enormous pressure that the leaders are under, Janin sees “resilience” as the key requirement for leaders. She defines this as the ability to stand firm, healthy, and strong when everything around you seems to fall apart. If you as a leader know who you are, if you know your values, how far you will go, and also what your limits are – then you can be authentic and people will follow you.

Björn demands a more people-centric organisation and sees culture and people managers as critical for that. Company culture needs to put people in the centre. The “people department” can help by delivering leadership training to people managers and by aligning everybody on people centricity.

Because of the transformation challenges, Janin sees HR leaders ideally on eye level with business leaders, with a seat at the table from which the business is driven, in a proactive role. She finds it helpful to recruit passionate people leaders from the business into HR.

To find future talent, many companies still seem to hire in a very traditional way. Björn recommends new ways as more promising, e.g. involving peers in the interview and selection process. He calls this “meet the real people”.

Diversity and Inclusion is a competitive advantage and will be key to success, as Felicitas is convinced. She thinks we have achieved a good understanding of this and that now it is time to make it happen, making it a part of the business agenda and a business imperative!

In their closing statements our panellists confirmed the value of the sharing trends and insights which appear to be pretty much the same across industries and encouraged HR Leaders to stay close to management and employees, accepting and driving change, and continuing to use the momentum, energy and flexibility which was developed during the crisis, and keeping up that spirit.

State of HR in 2021


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Key Contributors:

Frieder Rummel

Executive Advisor

Executive Advisor
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Executive Advisor

Frieder Rummel

Executive Advisor

Frieder Rummel is an Executive Advisor for EMEA with ChapmanCG based in Vienna, Austria. He supports the EMEA team to build relationships with CHROs and global HR leaders in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with a primary focus on Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Frieder also works as a leadership consultant and coach, and he leads assessment and talent projects for ChapmanCG. His experience involves decades of intense corporate work, including 18 years with Procter & Gamble, 12 years with Allianz and three years with Hershey’s.

Frieder has worked in Germany and Austria and, most recently, spent eight years in Asia. The focus of his work has been on Human Resources, but he has also spent time as a Managing Director and Head of IT, as well as acting as a company spokesperson. His last corporate role before joining ChapmanCG was as Senior Director, Human Resources, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa for the Hershey Company.

Frieder is originally from Germany and holds a Master’s degree in Mathematics from Philipps University Marburg and a Doctorate in Mathematics from Technical University Darmstadt. He speaks both German and English fluently. In his spare time, Frieder enjoys nature and culture and has completed more than a dozen full marathons, with half a dozen in tropical climates.

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