HR in Germany: Lessons can be learned from abroad

Rene Rosso - HR in Germany

HR is changing throughout the world and German companies could do worse than monitor what their counterparts in the UK and US are doing, writes Rene Rosso, Head of Frazer Germany.

The role of HR within the business world is changing. We see it here at Frazer Jones as the rise of the HR thought leader becomes the new norm.

Companies are no longer hiring HR managers to simply deal with traditional tasks such as compliance and labour relations. Instead these employees are now expected to take a lead role in moving the company forward and bringing added value to operations.

However, while the UK and US are at the forefront of this evolution, it’s fair to say that Germany is somewhat lagging behind. Despite being an economic superpower that fared better than most during the recession, the HR market has struggled to become a true business function in Germany.

HR in Germany

Why is this the case?

The country is trying to implement modern working structures that have been in place in the UK and US for a couple of years. But due to the highly decentralized economic landscape, this will take time. If you go to London, Singapore or Hong Kong, the majority of top businesses will have all of their major staff in one location. This is not the case in Germany and therefore international companies looking to make a breakthrough find the market very challenging to understand.

Communication is another issue, as it will be near impossible to work in a traditional German company without being able to speak the language. Granted, it is not such a big deal when it comes to highly-internationalised organisations such as law firms, but it can still cause problems. This is where recruitment experience comes into its own, as it means non-German speakers will be placed at the right company for their skill set.

In order to drive improvements, we think German HR leaders should be looking to their counterparts in the UK and US. The main issues in HR - diversity, mobility and talent management - will not differ much country-to-country, but the approach taken to dealing with them does vary. By learning from the success of others, HR in Germany can take a huge leap forward.

The concept of using interim senior managers to improve a company has also been slow to take off in Germany. Already an established practice in other markets, both clients and candidates are only starting to recognise the benefits such an approach can have. This method is not only results driven, but brings a high level of accountability and sees clear objectives developed in a short period of time.
The biggest area for improvement is with benefits. Too many companies undervalue how important exciting benefits (including compensation packages) are to making a job attractive and as a result they are not concentrating enough resources on being competitive.

Frazer Jones in Germany

Frazer Jones has been active in the German market for a long time out of our London Head Office and has now established its German presence in Düsseldorf, headed by René Rosso and most recently in Munich.
We have an excellent record of successfully delivering top-quality candidates from manager level upwards for major international corporations, with a particularly strong focus on roles that have an international remit.

René and his team will host quarterly high level HR events such as the HR Directors’ Circle in Germany over the coming months.