Faced with the need to transform company culture in line with the changes taking place in the socio-economic environment, a key role for HR managers is now to help drive their firms towards more flexible, collaborative structures.

Human Resources: Fostering Collaboration Now the Central Concern

Collaboration – and by extension all ideas and tools for collaborative working – are now a central issue for companies, whether we are talking about employees or recruitment managers. At a recent invitation event hosted in Paris by management and HR consulting firm Yuman focusing on the changing role of the Human Resources department in entrepreneurial strategy, speakers pointed to a sharp paradigm shift in the demands placed on HR managers and their approach to the management of Human Resources. Rather than simply seeking to hire the most qualified person for a given job, modern HR managers now try to assess how a potential recruit would respond to a sharing environment in which it is important to be able to working in tandem with one’s colleagues. However, this desire among HR management to bring about change often collides with the existing company culture. Using the 4-part typology developed by Yuman, we can observe the major considerations which tend to structure French enterprise culture: technical expertise, competitiveness, innovation and family values. YumanChairman Laurent Saussereau encourages firms to diversify their approach to people management even while maintaining the existing company culture. “This is a difficult manoeuvre to pull off,” he concedes, which can be encapsulated in the notion that “Today we’re living on the cusp of the ‘I’ culture and the ‘We’ culture”

Driving change from the inside

These assertions have not just been plucked out of nowhere. They are based on satisfaction surveys carried out among HR professionals. Yuman presented a survey carried out by Deloitte which underpins Yuman’s thinking. Findings showed that some 93% of companies in 2013 stated that they intended to concentrate their efforts on staff retention, while 53% planned to transform their companies from the bottom up. The polls also revealed that 60% of information that may be useful to a company is not currently being put to good use. The figures also indicate a syndrome to which HR professionals often allude, namely the loss of productivity due to sectors being too stuck in their silos. Impermeable barriers between departments negatively affect a firm’s ability to keep pace with the structural evolutions taking place in the world of work. The need for a company to be agile – agility being defined by Laurent Saussereau as "[...] speed of anticipation, decision-making and execution” – was one of the major issues raised by HR managers at the Yuman workshop. And this is where HR managers have the opportunity to exploit the dichotomy which is characteristic of their profession – i.e. the need to remain anchored in the current realities of a company and at the same time to have the foresight and drive to bring about much-needed changes.

Think Big…think Big Data

The figures from the Deloitte survey clearly show that the main concern is no longer about recruiting the most qualified people but rather about retaining existing staff  who are able to work in teams to achieve the best results. This is all about ‘collective intelligence’, about putting the group first, recognising that it is the team rather than the individual that gets results. Yuman highlighted the importance of collaborative tools to help draw on valuable synergies within a team. For example, in-company social networks, which are not usually very efficient at creating social links between employees, can prove to be highly useful as a collaborative working tool. The goal, as defined by the Yuman Chairman, is to “transform awkward customers into positive team players,” with Human Resources playing the role of “facilitator of interactions inside the company.” However, speakers at the workshop argued that before being able to set these trends in motion, the primary HR role is one of education and training, bringing back step-by-step and level-by-level the human and social elements into the work process.

By Quentin Capelle