Our mission in organising the Digitalisation & HR Salon was to provide clarity and insight on positive transformation in the workplace. As most professionals are aware by now, change and agility are more relevant to businesses than ever before. 55% of European executives believe they will need to retrain or replace over a quarter of their workforce between now and 2023, and HR departments are increasingly concerned with retention. At the same time, companies increasingly look to digital technologies to keep up with the dynamic needs of a 21st century world. So where do we go from here?
"IT and HR will be the deciding factors in whether a company is successful in the digital age."
– Ulrich Hermann, CEO of Heideberger Druckmaschinen
We wanted to tackle that question together and give stakeholders the chance to hear it from the experts. The salon brought in roughly 50 business leaders from diverse backgrounds, including human resources, education, tech and consulting. Led by our HR experts and innovation drivers, we got stuck into the most pressing questions around digitalisation and agility.
A short video of the guest speakers, hosts and attendees at our event. We look forward to the next one!
Katharina Heuer brought her experiences as an HR pioneer and expert to the table, discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation and innovative HR trends. Her keynote speech highlighted the importance of adapting to new workplaces, in which both power dynamics and working conditions are becoming less fixed. Rather than push against digitalisation, she encourages harnessing it to support new possibilities. For example, digital technologies provide easy ways to boost connectivity between independent or remote employees; and big data lets us make more informed decisions about our HR strategies. Digitalisation doesn’t detract from our values - it offers new pathways for those values to be upheld.
CTS Eventim’s Vice President of HR and Organisational Transformation Denise Grieffenhagen discussed the ins and outs of managing a rapidly scaling multinational organisation. This was particularly relevant to anyone undergoing considerable internal growth alongside significant commercial success. Grieffenhagen shared Eventim’s experiences with digitalisation so far, including strategic questions they had had to ask themselves and best practises they had reached through their experimentation.
"Transformation is not only a practical reaction to change and uncertainty, but also an evolving, creative action with exciting possibilities."
After sharing her insights, Denise Grieffenhagen was joined by Ministry Group owner Andreas Ollmann and TheDive founding partner Simon Berkler for a panel discussion focusing on change as the new normal. They spoke about the relationship between digitalisation and social impact; using digital content for people development; and finding digital tools to suit individual company needs. Reiterating Katharina Heuer, they concluded that ambiguities should be embraced, and that flexible, sensitive experimentation is key to finding out what works for your organisation. They agreed that transformation is not only a practical reaction to change and uncertainty, but also an evolving, creative action with exciting possibilities.
Our two workshops were run by Simon Berkler and Return On Meaning partner Claudia Braun. Simon Berkler built upon the themes raised in the panel discussion, honing in on the spaces where tension typically occurs in the workplace. We thought of our own individual, team, social and organisational relationships, and considered ways to hold more productive, solutions-based meetings. And the idea of managing tension found another aspect in Claudia Braun’s workshop, which focused on mindfulness at work and meditation. We took a look at common misconceptions around mindfulness as well as discovering small daily mindfulness practices. She clarified not only the professional benefits of mindfulness, such as an increased sense of agency, but also its true purpose in bringing awareness to your actions.
Finally we watched an engaging panel discussion between Michael Trautmann, Stephan Balzer, and Fabian Kienbaum. Michael Trautmann went from management and recruiting to advertising and marketing, as well as hosting the podcast #OnTheWayToNewWork. Stephan Balzer is a communication expert, TEDxBerlin curator and innovation specialist helping with the transformation of larger organisations. Lastly, Fabian Kienbaum is Chief Empowerment Officer of Kienbaum Consulting, and works with family businesses as well as writing about leadership and new work.
Stephan Balzer kickstarted the conversation with an introduction on generational differences within the workforce, a topic that’s deeply interconnected with agility. How do you implement change both practically and sensitively? The panel agreed that while many senior employees know change is essential, they’re often reluctant to act because there’s so much uncertainty involved. Tackling this paradox is difficult because senior employees are loathe to show any sign of weakness, but we have to break free of our comfort zones… even if that means having managers take a week-long coaching seminar on self-reflection; or embracing vulnerability.
One of the biggest challenges we face may be to expand focus beyond profits, and toward development, communication and disruption. It is here that HR can really fuse with digitalisation processes by building teams that advocate new values and innovative approaches - but it’s up to leaders to trust HR departments to do so!
So what did we learn?
Overall, here are the key takeaways:
- Awareness of individual, social and organisational needs are paramount for effective, meaningful transformation.
- We should always experiment with and fine-tune digital technologies to reach the best solution available.
- As well as ongoing feedback processes, clear communication with all stakeholders ensures that everyone is on the same page.
We were inspired by the passion of our speakers and the curiosity of our attendees, and can’t wait to hold our next event. In the meantime, you can check out this short video to get a glimpse of the action. And if you have any questions about digitalisation, HR or digital HR you can always get in touch with us via our website or social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter), or dip into our eBooks and blog posts.