Events - 31.08.2018 - 00:00 

Society 4.0: Fighting for Talent

At the opening of the 9th international HSG Alumni Conference, speakers explored the topic of “Fighting for Talent, or what kind of environment can generations Y and Z expect?” in a focus session.

31 August 2018. What can millennials expect from their work environment and their career planning? How will work develop in their lifetime? What can "Talent Management" achieve? How do companies deal with the "spatial efficiency vs. attractive workplaces" conflict? And what are the resulting challenges for companies? These questions were at the centre of the remarks by four speakers. Their empirical reports showed that there is not only one single path in the battle for talent, and opinions about the right strategy vary widely.

Working conditions are changing

In her opening remarks, Franziska Lienhard Nava recounted her dual role as mother and chairperson of Lista Office LO. After completing a degree course in business administration at HSG, she worked in the banking industry at home and abroad and later worked at the leading office outfitter in the Netherlands. Over the years, and with the birth of her first child, her work environment changed.

She is aware that women in previous generations would not have had the opportunity to dedicate themselves to both career and family planning, or only had under less favourable conditions. "Working conditions change with life planning, but also with changes in society. It was already like that earlier", stressed Franziska Lienhard.

Empty agenda a chance for a new start

Peter Wuffli spoke as the president of the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization. Its goal is to fight absolute poverty with entrepreneurial means. Central to this is the use of the advantages and potentials of globalization. His experience with young employees showed that today's talent preferred to be oriented toward meaningful work. For them, this required more democracy and collaborative co-operation and less belief in hierarchical structures. They are happy to work independently and strive for a more conscious and holistic lifestyle. For young talent as well, motivation, total commitment and adaptability are indispensable for a successful career.

The former CEO of the UBS Group remembered the time in 2007 when he was pressured to step down as head of the bank. His agenda was suddenly empty, but afterwards this proved very valuable to him. "I had time to think time about what really motivated me and the mark I wanted to make. The re-orientation emerged as a tremendous opportunity."

Create identification with values

Young talent is not recruited with rules, but with values, explained Barbara Josef, co-Founder of 5to9 AG and former Head of Communications at Microsoft. Anyone who wants to be successful in the changing and increasing fight for talent must make the work as pleasant as possible for the employees and create identification with values.

"For the first time in the history of work, thanks to progressive technological and social development, we are in a position to fundamentally redefine the way we work”, she stressed. "That is a huge opportunity for individuals and organizations". So that everyone can benefit from these changes, we must draft new rules together, create new exchange platforms and discuss new motivation and incentive models.

Employees elect managers

The fourth speaker was Hermann Arnold, who is co-founder of Haufe-umantis AG. He sees himself as a researcher and encourager of innovative organizational structures. In his company, he tests new approaches with his colleagues. Superiors are thus elected or executive development through resignation is sought for, for example. Once he had built the company, he stepped down as CEO and made an employee his successor.

It has not always been easy to work under the new boss. However, he learned an unbelievable amount, and he described his experiences. "He did things very differently and often with better results. I was able to observe him and analyse my ideas about leadership." The experience is humbling because you realize that all the attention you get every day as the head of a company depends not on the person, but on the role.

Hermann Arnold voiced criticism about the requirement that all the rules in the working world must if possible be abolished and young talent offered an "oasis of well-being" as a working environment. "It will also be necessary in the future to punish bad behaviour with consequences, and even collaboration needs certain rules to function." In the ensuing discussion, scepticism was also expressed. It will not be easy for the company to reach profit targets on the one hand, while on the other making people happier in their job, as one speaker put it.

photo: Fotolia/WavebreakMediaMicro

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