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Why the right HR strategy is more important than ever today

Updated: Jul 5

About five years ago at lunch at Google in Zurich – two colleagues more or less stumbled upon a conversation, topic: Over half of humanity lives in places where there are no street names. The colleagues wondered how to create a system that allows locating someone without street names. A project quickly emerged that engaged an entire team within a short time and is now available worldwide as “Google Plus Codes.” Born in a Zurich canteen. "Street View," "Google News," and the newest creation "Touring Bird" could have been born in similar ways.

Credit: Unsplash

How does Google consistently maintain such a high level of innovative power that its development almost seems playful? Or does Google have the most capable employees who, alongside their daily work, develop a series of new apps?

One answer to this question is the much-praised and repeatedly declared abolished “20 percent rule.” It should be noted that this rule was never abolished but has evolved. The basic idea remains: Employees are allowed and encouraged to spend a part of their work time on a project of their choice. The only condition: It must fit into Google's world of topics.

With this masterstroke, Google not only created an incubator for innovations but – and this is just as exciting – ensured that talented employees do not start their own start-ups and leave. Moreover, they could become Google’s competitors. A clever HR idea thus sets in motion a whole series of positive effects.

In this article, we want to highlight why a precise and creative HR strategy has become a crucial factor for companies in times of a skills shortage and why an interim HR manager or CHRO with their external expertise can significantly contribute to finding and retaining the best employees for a company.

The Evolution of the HR Function

Originally founded as a pure advocate for employee interests, the role of HR has changed significantly over the decades. Until the 1980s, the HR department in companies was primarily responsible for representing workers' interests and promoting internal talents. However, the following decades brought about a significant shift. Economic turbulence, such as the stagflation of the 1970s and the recessions of the 1980s and the late 2000s.

The focus shifted to radical cost-cutting – the purchasing power of wages fell, and job security decreased. In response, employee satisfaction dropped, and turnover rates increased. With negative consequences for companies: Almost every resignation causes costs: stalled projects, time resources for ad-hoc recruiting processes, onboarding phases, the possibility of a wrong hire, unrest, and resulting lack of productivity in the team. In short: too high employee turnover costs every company resources that are better invested in value-adding activities.

The Importance of the Right Employee Selection and Retention

The example of Google quickly raises the famous "chicken-and-egg question." But in the hectic HR everyday life, there is little time for philosophizing. The task sounds logical and simple but is extremely complex in implementation: "Find employees who perfectly match the company's requirements."

But how do you find this perfect match? The precise filling of a position has an immense impact – both positive and negative. Because if employees and companies do not fit well together, it is like driving with the handbrake on. In the best case, however, companies and new employees complement each other perfectly and deliver top performance. Because a company resembles an orchestra where each instrument must find its place to play harmoniously together. When the right employees are in the right positions companies reach their full potential and are successful.

Proactive HR Strategy

In many companies, recruiting is often still reactive: only when there is an acute need do they react and start looking for a suitable candidate. There is enormous potential in a proactive approach. An interim manager in the HR field can play a significant role. HR experts, bring fresh perspectives and extensive experience and can take on operational responsibility immediately. They analyze the current and – above all – the expected needs of the company and develop strategic planning to meet them.

For example, by building and maintaining a candidate pool, an HR interim manager can ensure that the company always has a range of potential applicants to recruit quickly if needed. It’s clear that not all candidates are available exactly when needed – but you always have several pre-selected options. If there is an acute need, you have already gained an advantage. The chances of filling the position accurately and long term increase enormously.

Moreover, interim managers can introduce innovative approaches and best practices from their external experiences that drive the company forward. The example of Google shows what innovative HR ideas can trigger in a team.

Judith Baumberger has wide experience in Human Resources and Research in a national and international context with responsibility for the recruitment, planning, and development of personnel, as well as basic and advanced training for staff. Success in team building, administration, and in reorganizing departments to optimize the deployment of the staff concerned—extensive experience in project work and project management.  


Data-Supported Recruiting is Becoming Increasingly Important

A key component of this proactive strategy is the use of modern technologies and data analysis tools. An HR interim manager can use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify patterns in the qualifications of successful employees and recognize potential candidates with similar characteristics and skills early on. They can also make the application process more efficient and ensure no talent is overlooked. By using data analysis tools, companies can continuously improve their recruiting strategies and adapt to current market conditions.

A Strong Corporate Culture as a Talent Magnet

Technology alone is not enough. An experienced interim HR manager understands the importance of a strong corporate culture and clear employer branding to attract and retain the right talent long-term. Today, employees are not just looking for a job but for a workplace that reflects their values and goals. When talking about their employer among friends, it is more important than ever that they are proud of the company’s reputation.

HR interim managers who help strengthen the corporate culture and make it more attractive to potential applicants not only increase the chances of finding the coveted “perfect match.” They also create additional value for the company: A strong corporate culture promotes employee retention and increases the satisfaction and productivity of the existing workforce. Companies with a positive culture have clear advantages in motivating their employees and maintaining high morale, which attracts new talent. A positive, mutually reinforcing cycle is set in motion.

Today's Challenge: A Tight Labor Market

Recent developments in the labor market and economy have led to a strong shift. Slow growth and stagnant productivity keep the labor market tight. Frequent overwork of employees, fear of layoffs, and the pressure of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, have led to a massive increase in workplace stress. Against this backdrop, priorities in HR departments had to be redefined: It is now primarily about attracting and retaining qualified employees, which means a return to the traditional role of HR as an advocate for employees.

Specifically, five megatrends have significantly increased the importance of the HR function:

  1. Increased willingness to change jobs in the labor market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic makes it difficult for companies to retain qualified employees long-term.

  2. The skills shortage as a strengthening long-term trend drives the demand for top talent higher and leads to increased “pull effects” between employers.

  3. A pronounced desire for more meaningfulness (“purpose”) in work. The growing demand for highly qualified candidates for meaningful activities poses a challenge for companies in attracting top talent.

  4. Digital collaboration models that emerged during the coronavirus pandemic and have evolved from an emergency solution to the new standard pose new requirements for teamwork.

  5. The rapid increase in digital business models, such as AI, requires further development of employees' technical and analytical skills.

A special example of a complex problem that requires this newly defined HR approach is virtual onboarding, a practice that is becoming increasingly important. LinkedIn elegantly demonstrates how to master this challenge with collective intelligence. Effective virtual onboarding requires close collaboration between HR and IT departments. According to SHRM, LinkedIn’s IT team developed special permissions that allow the HR team to install necessary software remotely, supporting the onboarding of new employees. This required the HR team to break down existing hierarchies and involve employees from other departments to develop the best communication strategies for new team members. This strategy promotes interaction between employees and departments, enabling them to overcome seemingly overwhelming challenges.

Good HR Work Pays Off

Investments in a well-thought-out HR strategy and the involvement of interim managers can pay off both in the short and long term. Companies that take the time to optimize their HR processes and focus on selecting and retaining the right talents will be rewarded with an engaged, productive, and loyal workforce. These companies are better equipped to compete in a competitive market and secure long-term success.

Our community includes HR interim managers with extensive experience. If you’re interested in learning more about this dynamic field or have a specific need, we recommend scheduling a consultation today.

Learn more about how targeted personnel strategies can transform your company by reading our HR case study “Bridging the Gap.” This study offers valuable insights and concrete results from our collaboration with clients.

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