Wednesday, 19 September 2007

The future of European HR

The session was opened by Philip Krinks at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reviewing their recent survey of European HR: what will be important in 2015 and where HR does not currently have capability.

Key factors are managing talent, change / cultural transformation, demographics and work-life balance.

This review was followed by inputs from Martin Ferber from Pfizer and Brendon McCann from Independent News and Media.

Given pharma's 15 years product development cycle, Pfizer were already thinking about the future of HR when they participated in BCG's research.

Martin talked through some great developments in change / cultural transformation, demographics, talent and diversity.

Pfizer use Gallup Q12 to measure engagemennt, supporting change and cultural transformation, and emphasise "you don't need big strategic plans for engagement, you need to get the manager in there doing their job".

I'm not sure about this.  In many knowledge based roles, and I presume pharmaceutical research, engagement comes from a wide range of factors, particulalry senior leadership, organisational values etc.  The line manager role is less important as knowledge professionals often feel they know more about the particular area they are working on than their manager.  So managers have less ability to make a difference locally.  Developing managers is clearly a key part of an engagement strategy, but there is more, and I think Pfizer may be missing a trick here.

Independent News has a 24 hour product development strategy and less sophisticated HR so hasn't focused on the future as much as Pfizer.  As a result, Brendan's presentation focused much more.on the newspaper industry than on what HR's role within his company / the indsutry.

Social media is having a big impact on the newspaper industry.  Brendan quoted Independent News' competitor, Rupert Murdoch as saying;

"My two young daughters will be digital natives.  They'll never know a world without ubiquitous broadband internet access.

The next generation of people accessing news and information, whether from newspapers or any other source, have a different set of expectations about the kind of news they will get, including when and how they will get it, where they will get it from, and who they will get it from.

So unless we awaken to these changes, which are quite different to those of 5 or 6 years ago, we will, as an industru, be relegated to the status of also-rans."

Brendan's presentation also focused more on potential ideas than actual experiences.  But these covered strategies within talent, demographics, work life balance and becoming a learning organisation.