Monthly Archives: September 2017

Is it really already Christmas?

Why on earth does the blogger pop up with Christmas while the leaves that were green just turn to brown? Why? Even the supermarkets haven’t started to sell gingerbread yet!

By Jens Kügler

This morning came this email: “Dear team members, it’s time again … I would like to invite you to our traditional Christmas dinner!”. Of course, the author wants to book the location on time and thus know for how many people. Because those distant cold weeks which we down here call the quiet time are indeed the hottest and most hectic days. All the good restaurants, bars and places will have long since been fully booked, especially on the popular Thursdays and Fridays. Also, everyone will have his own individual schedules on the days right before Xmas.

You need to organize now if you want to offer something special to your employees, customers and partners. In the case of above, the event location’s name is—translated into English—Ice Factory. Located at a huge lake near the city. I’m curious! Why not some Caribbean flair? At Düsseldorf, a venue applies with such an offer. At the historic Rheinfels Castle, you can experience a “magic of winter”. A place in Saxony invites to a great Christmas spectacle at a famous mountain fortress. And in Hamburg, you can book something they call Christmas Magic in the old port scenery. These are just a few examples. And all this is now bookable. Just google for event-location online catalogs!

What about a dinner in an intimate club atmosphere? Why not a theme night in an old listed industrial building, decently-decorated and charming, with stage shows and interactive competitions? Everything is possible if the number of invitees is correspondingly large. It is only important that it fits into the target group. The Generation Y have fun in a different atmosphere than a best ager’s society. A few tips I gathered from a blog article that my colleague Hans Schriever recently published (yes, other journalists start to write about Christmas, too!). Instead of the typical pompous decoration with balls, tinsel and glitter, he recommends modern and reduced Christmas decoration. A few smartly placed branches may replace the classical Christmas tree. In addition to this, puristic-looking dishes in sun-drenched colors look very well.

His next tip is to practice event management with the digital means of communication. Merge the channels. You may plan a campaign in advance to make sure that the target group gets attracted. Create an event-hashtag and a home or landing page. After the event, ask the guests what they liked best and what they did not like. Give them the opportunity to comment, because they generate free content for your own Google ranking! And you will get to know how to celebrate Christmas 2018 even better and more successfully. Last but not least: The own Christmas party homepage shall not disappear from the web after the event. Everyone can still post beautiful memorable photos and videos and click on them.

So much for Christmas. Quite honestly, wasn’t it a more beautiful subject than the item that most other channels over here report about today, September 25, 2017? Horrible Federal Election results from yesterday. Not only the leaves turn to brown …

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More Flexibility: the Soft Skills of Tomorrow

Who will companies in Germany be looking for in ten years? It’s employees who can “switch” technically and culturally. They must be cross-thinking and acting instead of being focused too deep in only one professionalism. That’s the result of a study published last week.

By Jens Kügler

The Institute Bitkom Research and the career portal Linkedin have asked CEO’s and personnel managers of German companies. They wanted to know which hard and soft skills are in demand today—and which they believe will be in ten years. The assumptions are based on the expected requirements of the advanced digitization.

Today’s most wanted hard skills are data analysis and data interpretation ability. In ten years, the bosses and HR professionals will see it only in second place, as they think. Number one will be the current second-placed ability, the knowledge management. Three and four remain unchanged: project management and change management. It is only a bit surprising that the point of corporate leadership is to move from seven to five—and thus leave social media knowledge and general digital competency behind.

Much larger changes will take place in the soft skills. The ability to deal with criticism—today at number one on the wishlist for candidates—drops down to number four. Intercultural competence jumps from eight to five in ten years. The most important rise makes the capability of interdisciplinary skills—from number seven today to number one in the future! That means that employees of tomorrow shall be able to communicate well, cross-departmentally, in several languages and also with colleagues from other cultures.

Conversation and negotiations will also promote—from three to two. Employee leadership climbs from four to three. And, most surprisingly, the decision-making ability falls from number two today to number six then! I’m very curious whether personnel decision-makers will actually judge their candidates in ten years as they believe today …

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The Working-Day Revolution has begun

Bye bye time clock: Today, entrepreneurs recognize that rigid working hours don’t fit in today’s living reality anymore. But it’s not only the employees who ask for new ways to work, but also the customers in global competition.

By Jens Kügler

Bavaria … This traditionally very conservative state in the south of Germany is not necessarily connected with social innovations and revolutions, but wrongly. Sometimes Bavaria is compared to Texas with its conservative attitudes and strong own “national” identification. And just as it’s American correspondent, Bavaria is indeed a technology hub. Twenty years ago, the state had already promoted its economic innovative capacity with the slogan “laptop and leather pants”. Today, living in Bavaria, I see a slogan on large-format posters, online banners and beer coasters. It says “That’s how I want to work: Greater flexibility in working hours!”. It is an advertising campaign. Employees are shown who explain why they need more flexibility. They also explain the advantages of a more individual time division for their company and ultimately for markets and consumers.

Sounds like a trade union initiative? Not at all! The campaign was launched by vbw, the Association of the Bavarian Economy. An institution of employers. Their President says that the German working time regulations of the 1970s and 1980s urgently need an upgrade in times of globalization and digitization. However, the association does not want to increase the working-time volume. Bavarian bosses expect economic benefits when they offer their employees flexibility, work-life balance, mobile work and more self-responsibility through flatter hierarchies. Above all, they want to make their companies more attractive to young people. Bavaria is urgently looking for skilled workers. The association has realized that.

Not only associations, but also individual companies are making progress. Last week, I read in a trade journal that the advertising agency group Dentsu Aegis disposes the core working hours in their German subsidiaries. The approximately 1,300 employees at all five German locations from Hamburg to Munich can choose their own starting point and their working hours within the scope of individual weekly hours. They are also no longer bound to a place of work. If they have technically adequate equipment, they can work anywhere—at home, at the beach, in the café, on the road …

Ulrike Handel, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network in Germany, explains the reason. “In order to further develop our business sustainably, cultural change is essential,” as the agency boss said. “We want to enthuse the best talents—our employees and potential newcomers—for our work and challenges”.

To me, it looks like the working world of tomorrow comes closer to reality day by day. Companies need to react and so they do. It’s not at all ironic to quote the former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. He told East Germany’s communist leader Erich Honecker the famous words: “life punishes those who come too late”. Honecker didn’t understand. A few weeks later the revolution blew him away.

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Urgent: Trainees Missing!

September 2017. Summer holidays are over and almost everywhere in Germany the year of education has begun. Now it becomes is obvious that once again numerous workbenches and PC tables will remain unoccupied. The lack of skilled begins with the absence of trainees.

By Jens Kügler

According to statistics by the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), one in three German companies could not fully occupy their training places in 2016. Almost every tenth training company did not receive a single application. “We miss the next generation,” complained DIHK President Eric Schweitzer.

Since 2008, the number of apprenticeship positions has exceeded the number of applicants in Germany. Is there, so to speak, over-employment instead of full employment? Could this be a reason for joy—while in countries like Spain, there is a horrendous youth unemployment? No, because unoccupied workplaces harm the economy. The companies concerned may be less productive and may have to cancel orders. And today’s missing trainees are missing specialists of tomorrow. Eric Schweitzer explains that this is a dangerous development for society as a whole. The lack of skilled workers means less growth and prosperity.

On the other hand, not all those who look for a training place will find one. It sounds strange, indeed, but only at first sight. Because there is a valid reason for the discrepancy. Namely popular and unpopular jobs. The young men would like to become a car mechanic and the women love to be business woman for office management. Least asked is the hospitality industry. Here the number of companies with missing trainees is 58 percent. Followed by the construction industry—with 42 percent.

Why in particular did they not get their training places occupied? That’s what the DIHK also wanted to know from the surveyed entrepreneurs. The most frequent reason for this was the lack of suitable applications, named by almost 70 percent. But 26 percent of the jobs remained unoccupied because companies did not receive any applications at all. And in 22 percent of all cases the apprentices did not attend their training places.

Should one blame the young people saying, you only want to do what you love? You are lazy? You do not want to work at all? Shall we tell those with unsuitable applications words like: You are too stupid? This can hardly be true and it won’t help. Rather, the sectors and companies that are most likely to suffer from the lack of trainees need to consider how to make themselves and their offer more attractive. Salary, work-life balance or flexible working hours are key words. There is a magic word for business, and that is employer branding. Eventually, some entrepreneurs should think about starting to advertise their professional fields in order to change their image. Stop to complain, learn to market yourself!

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