Return to the New Work Normal – an exchange with the `Senior HR Community` What do the others dare to do?

April 29, 2021
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Did you know that 1/3 American CEOs have little idea how the process of returning to a “new normal” will take place ?

AltoPartners Executive Search, Austria, hosted an informative HR Breakfast with four expert panelists and the senior Austrian HR community to discuss this topic and facilitate the exchange of best practices. A special thank you goes to our keynote speakers, who offered exciting insights into the handling of the current situation in their company and initiated interesting discussions about the future approach:

  • Bettina Augeneder, Human Resources Director, Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company
  • Angela Kaipel-Zaffalon, Human Resources Business Partner Engineered Materials, Group Functions & Head of Group Office, Mondi Group
  • Peter Krtschal, Head of HR Services, Ottakringer Holding AG
  • Gerald Senn, Director Corporate Human Resources, Greiner Foam International GmbH / NEVEON Holding GmbH

Key findings from our discussion

  • Covid has made digital transformation steps possible, some of these steps previously encountered resistance or progressed only slowly. Remote and hybrid work were also able to move into traditional environments, where physical presence was previously the norm. In the past, change projects often advanced slowly whereas currently, these have a greater opportunity of progression.

  • Remote and hybrid working hours - in contrast to traditional structures requiring physical presence - will not continue as such everywhere and certainly not as a single solution but will certainly play a greater role than in the past. This brings with it a large number of consequences and tasks. The following points should be highlighted in this context:

a. Managers need and receive support for “remote” leadership; Corporate culture and values should be actively managed and not be a product of chance

b. The structure for physical, online and hybrid contact and corresponding meetings must be developed and specified. Trust-based working hours and locations promote entrepreneurship, but also require regulations that must be set by the employer but also by the political system (including cross-country commuters, home office in countries other than the contract of employment …)

c. The idea of a Compressed Working Hour Model was discussed. This type of system monitors the working hours that can be saved and can then be exchanged for a type of voucher for existing all-in contracts. A particular challenge here is finding the right tool that records working hours and calculates the corresponding free time in order to keep track of things

d. Existing office space can be reduced or converted and used completely differently. For example, the need for lounges, meeting rooms, etc. increases

  • On the one hand, inequality between employee groups increases; these groups must be optimally reached regardless of rank and status. On the other hand, there is the awareness that not all employees have the same interests and expectations

a. In this case, for example, “bring and connect with your own device” models were developed for blue collar workers

b. In the past, existed wellbeing offer existed almost exclusively in the form of face-to-face offers; the topic of mental health is also very much on the agenda. In addition to digitization issues, Covid has also brought about the urgency of teamwork and individual well-being. In addition to virtual sports programs, the focus is, for example, on the implementation of campaigns and mental health policies

c. In some companies the new type of cooperation has also triggered the discussion about compensation & benefits. Our HR Breakfast clearly showed that in this space there is a need for optimization and the question arises as to whether individual benefits still achieve the desired goal or which specific reward systems are suitable instead

d. Independent working behaviours and flexibility have become a requirement of employees and also something that employees aspire to

e. Home office fatigue must be addressed

Keep watching this space! More interesting topics to follow…