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Everything is moving, except for hr?

Af: Christian Vetter // co-founder, HRForecast

Florian Fleischmann // responsible for the implementation of data-driven decision-making tools, HRForecast

Prof. Dr. Marion Festing // Chair of Human Resource Management and Intercultural Leadership at the ESCP Europe Berlin Business School and is founder of the ESCP Europe Talent Management Institute

Maximilian Tallgauer // research associate and Ph.D. student at the Chair of Human Resource Management and Intercultural Leadership at the ESCP Europe Berlin Business School

The role of HR in change

HR is currently at a crossroads: on the one hand, developments in society, such as demographic change and a shortage of skilled workers, present personnel departments major challenges in their search for suitable talent. On the other hand, digitalization and technological possibilities are changing tasks, processes, and responsibilities. This makes it necessary to prepare for the changes and trends in a targeted manner and to focus consistently on future-oriented skills.

In a joint project between HRForecast and ESCP Europe, we investigated how HR departments around the world are facing the current challenges and what national differences can be identified. We focused on the recruiting process to identify skill trends and derive insights into the respective organizational adjustment measures. In total, we analyzed more than 150,000 HR-specific job advertisements from 18 focus countries and conducted several expert interviews. Our intention was not only to show change processes in the HR area but also to support companies in an increasingly complex market environment.

HR at the center of organizational change

HR can certainly become the core of the digital transformation, since HR departments are jointly responsible for the prevailing organizational culture. It has become clear that the implementation of technological innovations in the field of predictive analytics, robotics or virtual reality must be accompanied by a change in the organizational culture in order to reduce resistance and create an effective and smooth symbiosis between employees and IT systems.

Besides, in the age of lifelong learning, it is extra important to continuously prepare employees for current and future requirements. This requires individualized training and re-training measures as well as progressive evaluation and feedback concepts in order to identify and gradually marginalize skill gaps of employees. Last but not least, HR must not only help to shape the overall organizational change processes but also equip its own functional areas such as recruitment, onboarding and talent management with digital competencies and integrate technological innovations such as chatbots or workforce analytics into the processes.

So, what are the two main results?

Firstly, the study shows that HR in 18 countries is very differently prepared for change. With the mediocre result of 25%, the Danish companies seem to be only partially able to meet the desired requirements, in particular, to implement and control technologies, as well as to create digital strategies and overall concepts.

Secondly, the digital trends and challenges in some of the focus countries were recognized earlier and moved to the center of organizational planning and strategic direction. HR departments should see it as an opportunity to make decision-making processes more evidence-based in order to consolidate and strategically align their own role and, on the other hand, to support the company in structuring the digital transformation as an important partner in terms of structure, personnel, and ethics.


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