Zurich : Breakfast Dialogue

13 Feb 2012

Creating People Advantage 2011
Time to Act: HR Certainties in Uncertain Times

Adrian Hofer, The Boston Consulting Group

The third European survey conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) with support of the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) was introduced to the 50 some IHRC members present as an annual health check of how well HR is dealing with current challenges and turning them into opportunities. The report, based on an online survey of more than 2,000 executives from 35 European countries, analyzes how HR challenges have been changing over time. Managing talent and improving leadership development ranked highest in importance in most countries again for the third year. HR capabilities are constantly assessed very differently by HR and non-HR executives and the perception gap is widening, not closing.

The overriding message is good things won’t come to HR executives who wait. It’s “Time to Act”. Adrian Hofer, Principal at BCG Zürich office, discussed four trends and the areas for development they entail:

1) Make Talent, Not War – switching from serendipity to strategy
With high demand for and lower supply of talent many economies will be facing a talent crunch. Even though HR understands the need to act, best practices remain rare. Mr. Hofer described key elements for talent management – expand horizons, create fast tracks, accelerate skills development, inspire for retention; and presented a framework for building talent.

2) Social Media Meets HR – a game changer
As social media becomes more prevalent, HR needs to adjust accordingly. Employers are being discussed in very public online forums. Mr. Hofer talked about both the opportunities and risks presented by online social networks and the interesting dynamic created. He explained how use of the web should be integrated into each stage of the recruiting funnel.

3) Hardwiring Diversity into Your Business
The growing diversity of customer segments combined with scarcity of talent demands greater diversity in the work force. Companies typically implement basic diversity measures, however, diversity is still lacking at the top of the pyramid. Hardwiring diversity into the management framework requires strategies to approach recruiting, promotion and retention. Clear goals for what the business wants to accomplish are needed as well as a means of measurement against them. When asked how he defines diversity, Mr. Hofer replied it’s matching the workforce with the business.

4) HR Without Frontiers – global HR people and processes
Globalization requires a global delivery model raising the bar for HR to become a strategic business partner. There is increasing importance to look beyond the local workforce and cope with the dynamics of international expansion and volatile new markets. HR activities are often widely spread across organizations with no clear pattern nor shared understanding of how to organize HR for the global playing field. Few HR professionals have international experience.

Mr. Hofer closed the session by telling the audience to ask of themselves “What can we bring back to our own organizations to improve our HR function?”

Browse the report

Text by Mary Bronson/IHRC Support Team