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Don't dehumanize personnel management!

Digital change is transforming the way HR managers work and forcing companies to modify their strategies to attract and retain qualified employees. HR departments are more important than ever, says Harald Smolak.

In an ever more rapidly developing, increasingly networked society, many companies are fighting for the best brains. The work of HR managers is changing more and more. A number of new digital tools are taking the place of analog recruitment methods. Automation and artificial intelligence should in future help to target personnel decisions more effectively and reduce administrative tasks to a minimum.

Application processes have become much more mechanical in recent years. This development is set to increase. Holistic HR software solutions or recruiting bots have found their way into personnel departments. Algorithms are supporting human assessments. But is it realistic to expect that job interviews will be conducted by artificial intelligence in the future?

The human factor makes the difference.

I don't think so. People make the difference, even in a digitized world. The goal of companies must be to reinvent themselves within the context of industry 4.0 without dehumanizing themselves. Of course, this also applies to the selection process. Respect and appreciation, for example, are attributes that no machine can offer. A healthy and trusting relationship between everyone involved is the basic prerequisite for successful talent acquisition and retention. Although personnel diagnostics can help, they cannot replace the final decision.

Whereas up to now the previous positions of a potential candidate have often been compared with the ideal profile of a current job description, in future HR managers will increasingly be required to identify those personalities who meet the requirements of a changing work environment. Template-like job profiles are a thing of the past. Ideally, these would be candidates with professional, digital qualifications and social sensitivity. Values such as the right to self-determination, equality and equal rights are becoming increasingly important, as are empathy, the ability to network and teamwork. 

Agile working methods and a distinct climate of innovation.

New Work is the keyword. Digitization has significantly changed the way we work in terms of time, space and organization, but it has also developed it further in a positive sense. Modern companies have recognized this, introduced agile working methods and created a distinct climate of innovation. And they serve as role models for less agile companies.

In a work environment characterized by volatility and transience, both applicants and employees are looking for greater flexibility. They want to be able to work anywhere, anytime. The possibilities are there and the infrastructural prerequisites have been created by digitization. Companies need to recognize that where hierarchies used to dominate, networks now exist.

Successfully shaping change.

Changes are an integral part of working life. They challenge and transform existing structures. In this context, HR departments occupy a strategically important position to set the course for the future. They are challenged on different fronts, need to get the employees behind them and convince them of the new path. The shake-up of outdated power structures is also part of this process.

Changes are an integral part of working life. They challenge and transform existing structures. In this context, HR departments occupy a strategically important position to set the course for the future. They are challenged on different fronts, need to get the employees behind them and convince them of the new path. The shake-up of outdated power structures is also part of this process.

Harald Smolak, Director and HR Director at globalise company Atreus

Harald focuses on the fields of mindful leadership, coaching top management executives, conflict management, organisational and team development and enterprise transformations. In his work he advises and assists clients from the IT, telecommunication, services, electronics, medical technology and insurance industries. He has more than 25 years of experience in general management, marketing & sales, human resources and consulting. Before hiring on at Atreus, he held several executive positions in leading telecommunications companies, including Senior Vice President Sales Americas at Siemens AG and Head of Human Resources Marketing & Sales at Nokia. 

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