How crises are changing the world of work - Economy

companies, employees and Executives are currently confronted with one phenomenon in particular: the simultaneity of many crises. The war in Europe, inflation, the upcoming winter and the associated energy and gas crisis and last but not least Corona, everything is affecting the minds of employees. The particular challenge is that these crises were unpredictable. In complete contrast to changes that have long been apparent, such as digitization and demographic change. How HR managers look at these simultaneous crises and what solutions there can be for companies was the topic at the SZ Economic Summit Salon.

While the sun goes down and the editorial high-rise is bathed in orange light, SZ guest Nicole Gerhardt looks into the future on the top floor. The lawyer has been Head of Human Resources at Telefónica (O2) for five years and always strives to offer employees an attractive workplace. She encourages employees to change teams more frequently within the company in order to meet new managers. "Many stay with their team for a long time because they have a protected space there," she says. At Telefónica, employees can use a software program to display which positions are available where. In the past year alone, more than 100 Telefónica employees changed jobs. This also includes some executives in order to further educate themselves in a technical direction.

Managers play a key role when it comes to getting through crises together with employees. Jutta Rump researches the new normality that has determined everyday life since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. "We have to give people orientation in a world that is changing," says Rump, director of the Institute for Employment and Employability in Ludwigshafen (IBE). Because of the pandemic, managers need further qualifications: not only training on data protection and occupational safety, but also on health protection.

Many employees are more exhausted, more stressed, sleep worse than before

The hybrid work, sometimes in the office, sometimes from home, often in video conferences, demands a lot from employees. Many are more exhausted, more stressed, sleep poorly. Crises like the pandemic came as a surprise and were unpredictable for HR managers. The fact that several crises are taking place at the same time makes this more difficult - bosses and employees have to adapt.

Even before the crises, managers and HR managers were involved in several transformations: digitization and demographic change. Labor market researcher Rupp calls these transformations "megatrends". For example, there is this German problem that can hardly be solved with the only slowly advancing digitization: the paper economy. Telefónica board member Gerhardt complains that many documents in the application process have to be printed out instead of digital. This is an aspect that companies have to deal with when looking for employees. But companies also have to keep an eye on the requirements that job seekers place on their potential employers - and things are changing there too, says Mirja Telzerow, Human Resources Director at business consulting Kearney.

Applicants would like to have more opportunities to continue their professional development or to do a master's degree later: "An MBA or a doctorate is in greater demand than it was ten years ago," says Telzerow. "The question of how one would like to work is now being asked by all generations."

As head of HR, Mirja Telzerow has a special role in the management consultancy. On the one hand, she is responsible for the employees in the consulting department, on the other hand, colleagues occasionally ask her for advice when companies want advice on how the world of work is changing. Telzerow and her colleagues at Kearney are only just learning from the current crises. After all, Kearney and Telefónica can count themselves lucky, because their business areas are still in high demand.

The two HR managers and researcher Jutta Rupp agree on one thing in particular: the transformations in companies must be initiated by managers, not the employees. "The fish stinks from the head," says Rupp. Nicole Gerhardt also says that Telefónica initiates solutions to the crises from above, "top down", says the head of HR and finds optimistic words despite the crises that are plaguing employees: "Work can be something great and offers opportunities for personal training ."

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