After a year of working and living in Germany, and after being part of a HR team in a company that was both rapidly scaling and had a high turnover of staff, I’ve come to know the quirks and nuances of the German recruitment landscape very well indeed. Not just the company I worked for either. As my interim role neared its conclusion I approached and was approached by several companies and got to see much of the recruitment culture from the other side. So what have I learned? Let us dive in and take a look.
Illustration: Soumyasanto Sen
The digital economy is shaping the aspects of society, including the way people interact, the economic landscape, the future of work and business transformation empowering with fast-changing technologies.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is distinguishable from the others because it is where humans meet the cyber world; where technology and people are not distinct, not separate. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will change not only what we do but also who we are. It will affect our identity, role, responsibility, a way of leadership and our mindsets.
2018 saw the toy giant, Toys R’Us close down all of their shops. Marks & Spencers has been hanging by a thread for a number of years now. Toshiba was forced to sell its computer chip business in 2017, and we know of the massive losses in the billions of Euros suffered by mobile phone giants for their texting services, due to the arrival of WhatsApp and Viber.
Volatility and unpredictability are increasing in business, as well as in the economy and the environment, and one of the questions large corporations and companies need to ask themselves, where is our innovation capacity going to come from in the next couple of years.
So what’s this “Brexit” thing we’ve all been hearing about then?
The HR Cat (Sarah Murray): Back in 2016, in order to retain the support of nationalists within the British Conservative party, Prime Minister David Cameron offered the UK a referendum on the UK’s EU membership. The people voted “Leave” by a margin of 52%/48%. The current Prime Minister, Theresa May, subsequently activated Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, and the UK is now set to leave the EU on March 29th 2019 as an automatic operation of law.
Oh I see. So why is this in the news so much?
Photo: Zukunft Personal Europe
Workplace safety issues and dismissals. Labour strikes, lockouts and mounting numbers of resignations.
With all the above issues escalating, John Patterson, owner of the National Cash Register Company, in 1901, was pushed to his very limits. In a desperate – but certainly historic – attempt he decided to try something totally different. He set up a new team in charge of people management. And so the first HR department was born; tasked with creating the company’s compensation, employee relationships, workplace safety and compliance policies.
To be totally fair, those specific areas of people management did not transform that much in the following 100 years. To recap, early HR practices, over the first part of the 1900s, focused rather on a “watchmen” function and were tasked with keeping the record on employee data and initiatives. The second part of the 1900s was characterized by momentous societal changes that lead to more elevated expectations on equality and safety policies.
By today, not only is our socio-economic environment changing rapidly and constantly but the expectations of our employees as well. Gone are the days when the role of HR simply revolved around administration, compensation or protective regulation. What will become even more nuanced for HR managers in the future that will require the acquisition of new knowledge? In one single word: Everything!
Doubtful? Critical? Don’t click away just yet.
Keep reading as we bring you our top predictions as to where HR needs to focus on in 2019 and beyond, built on our conversations, with among others Ralph Hocke, the CEO of Spring Messe Management GMBH and the key takeaways from the 2018 Zukunft Personal Europe.
If you work for a single company for a long time, especially a large company, you’re probably familiar with the common workplace rituals that have developed which mark the beginning and the end of the employee life cycle. The welcome cards, the little speech when someone starts, the little mementos people buy for you when you start. Then there are the leaving parties, the speech on how great an asset someone has been and how sorry everyone is to see them leave, and the post-work trip to a local pub with a few of the people the person leaving became close to. Perhaps you’ve shed a few tears yourself or had others shed tears on your behalf after moving on from a company you grew attached to.
As negative as the actual experience of leaving a job can feel, losing people is an absolutely necessary part of the work ecosystem. People come and people go. It’s in the very nature of most forms of social human activity. Whether it’s a circle of friends, a royal lineage, a scientific project, a private company, or a public service, fresh blood is regularly introduced and others move to something new. It’s a vital part of how social structures adapt themselves to a changing world or try to influence the changes that occur around them. Without this exchange of people stagnation and weakness sets in.
Recruitment, one of the principle functions of HR, has become such a sophisticated and involved process that it is now handled mostly by specialist people who know the questions to ask and the qualifications that matter to the role. Whole businesses have proliferated, worth millions, which do nothing more than offer specialist recruitment services. The reason it is such a weighty topic is obvious – having the right people work for you will make the difference between success and failure.
There have been numerous articles written on recruiting in HR publications across Europe, and even more on the internet. Besides from some notable exceptions, few have impressed me. An overreliance on buzzwords and corporate phrasing (“Reach out and pick a dynamic candidate who’s core competency gives them an attitude of thinking outside the box, enabling them to synergise rapidly with your business ecosystem!”) might be good for grabbing the reader’s attention, but such articles do nothing to advance the readers actual knowledge of the topic. One of the problems is that a lot of these articles are simply stealthy advertisements with email addresses or clickbacks to recruitment agencies, so exist to sell the process as opposed to inform about it.
As someone has done a fair bit of recruiting, let me try to inform, or at least illustrate the enormous amount of variables involved that make recruitment such a massive task.
Photo: Negative Space
There is perhaps no other decision faced by Human Resources professionals, that comes with such great responsibility, and yet so much uncertainty at the same time, than hiring a new person. There are endless resources with good advice on how to manage the entire process from advertising to appointing the candidates, and recruitment over the years has become its own industry, from agencies to thought-leaders, apps and software, to certification and training organisations.
And even though the industry is booming, particularly in the current labour market context, the majority of tools and methods we apply to attract and hire employees have proven to be not efficient in predicting future work performance, employee engagement and organisational success. As so much depends on finding and holding on to the right people, I venture it is time to spend some time on reflecting about our recruitment habits and re-consider some of the tools and approaches we deploy.
Modern technology has made travel easier than it ever has been. I can buy an airline ticket today and be in Australia by tomorrow. When I was interviewed for a job in Germany I boarded an aeroplane in my native Britain, flew to Berlin, spent several hours with the team I would be working with, and then flew back home again, all in a single day. Before I made this trip I had several initial interviews remotely via Skype. When I was offered employment I gave serious consideration to working here, staying here during the the week, and then flying back to the UK for the weekend, such is the ease of travel that being able to cross several hundred miles and a few countries every week is simple and easy.
Photo: spring Messe Management GmbH
With the warmer weather the conference season is also upon us. If you are like us, you are also looking forward to the events of the HRM conference calendar of 2018. Where is the most useful place to learn about the latest HR industry trends, get inspired by opinion leaders and network with like-minded professionals? The Zukunft Personal events, of course! On this blog we talk a lot about Zukunft Personal Europe, the international flagship conference and expo of the Messe Management events, but did you know that the organiser team pulls together several other top HR gatherings as well?