Interview Work 4.0 Marcus K.Reif portrait

Working Environment 4.0 in marketing / HR departments

Marcus K. Reif, Head of Recruiting and Employer Branding at Ernst & Young GmbH, speaks about personnel marketing in the Working Environment 4.0.

  1. How will we know that we are living in the reality of the Working Environment 4.0?

We are already using a variety of apps today, which are symbolic for the new working environment. These include apps to call and pay for taxis, purchase clothing, food and consumer goods, book our next vacation and many more. The smartphone penetration rate in Germany is extremely high.

You’ll find such examples even in your professional life. Processes and procedures are increasingly being digitalized and transferred to the cloud. Digitalized business networks are becoming increasingly important and bringing forth new forms of collaboration. We are experiencing the same thing at the machine level with the Internet of Things. Networked devices interact without human intervention. And automation will cover an increasing number of areas, which not only include standardized processes, but also knowledge work. All of this enables the increasing acceleration and compression of work.

Germans are leaders in the tertiary sector of the economy, which is characterized by services. Strict results-oriented thinking is gaining importance. This has replaced the input orientation of previous generations. Thus, more flexibility is needed. And a new understanding of leadership, which now includes coaching and participation rather than instructions and control of the performance level.

We are also seeing an evolution with regard to status symbols. Quality time for one’s children, hobbies or personal preferences now often outweigh the attraction of sports cars, for example. In other words, the transition is far more advanced and extensive than many realize.

  1. What changes result from this for the marketing and HR marketing of the future?

Glossy antiseptic marketing is coming to an end. Authenticity and realism, beliefs and values characterize modern HR marketing. At the same time, it is clearly important to communicate concrete possibilities and opportunities.

In addition to this, each person subconsciously perceives over 5,000 brands per day. This is just one of the reasons why it is now more difficult than ever to achieve the necessary momentum with one’s own marketing instruments. Advertising has to be even smarter than before and this equally applies to HR marketing. Another factor consists of the ability to interact with modern forms of advertising, which target groups are more likely to respond to.

Of course modern advertising continues to focus on differentiation from competitors and successfully addressing dynamic and highly networked target groups. But ways to achieve these objectives keep changing.

  1. How are requirements changing in terms of the people in the company?

 I am convinced that we are moving away from the “Resource Management” dogma and will have to once again focus on the actual individuals. In a complex world and confusing times, a multi-layered organization can not be managed via Excel. Globalization, demographics, digitalization and the distinctive value orientation of the coming generations show that the fight for the best talent is steadily increasing.

The main challenge here consists less of winning these talents, but ensuring their long-term commitment to the employer. This can only succeed if people are at the heart of personnel policy and corporate strategy. The instruments for this are evident.

  1. How can companies adapt to this fundamental change?

 Companies are very fine, highly complex and fragile constructs. Every employer must understand that no one can shape a modern culture merely by managing the production factors. HR departments, for example, can play an important role in creating the framework conditions for continual development of a culture. It can also make targeted adjustments where there are gaps between rhetoric and reality.

For example, when it comes to increasing digital literacy, possible increases in flexibility of working hours and places, performance evaluation based on results, and the strengthening of a modern management culture as well as the personal responsibility of each employee, or when it comes to value orientation in line with the convictions of the senior and junior team members.

Working Environment 4.0 will not be designed merely as the sum of individual measures. Therefore, no one should underestimate the overarching cultural aspect. It can be a key for opening up the opportunities of this change for one’s own company.

For more information on Work 4.0. have a look at the articles Workplace 4.0 – what form will it take or Working Environment 4.0 – what companies and employees can expect or the article “The office of the future” in the Top Fair magazine

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