Panel discussion: We need a revolution in corporate culture

Findings of NWX22

Cover photo: NWX Talk corporate culture
IBA editorial team IBA editorial team ·
5 Minutes

Corporate culture was one of the top topics at New Work Experience 2022 in Hamburg. Host Swantje Allmers, CEO at NWMS GmbH, talked in a panel discussion to management consultant Fabian Kienbaum, who holds the position of Co-Chief Empowerment Officer at his consultancy, the CEO of NEW WORK SE, Petra von Strombeck, and Zuzana Blazek, who is a senior researcher at the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) and the Competence Centre for Securing Skilled Labour (KOFA). Their topic: new demands on human resources, corporate culture and the question of which factors can have productivity-enhancing effects.

Demographic change, the fact that baby boomers are leaving companies for age reasons, the associated retirement of five million workers by 2030 and the resulting phenomenon of “workerlessness” pose major challenges for companies. One consequence: an increase in productivity is inevitable.

More productivity through fit, purpose and an active culture of error

According to Zuzana Blazek, there are various ways for companies to increase productivity. Assigning employees according to their strengths and thus increasing the accuracy of job fit is a possible lever on company side, as is the establishment of an active culture of error as well as the empowerment of employees and the promotion of their personal responsibility. Blazek referred to the results of a basic study from 2021, which the Institute for Economic Affairs had conducted together with StepStone, NEW WORK SE and the management consultancy Kienbaum on productivity, innovation and employment.

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The study, which surveyed 8,000 employed in Germany, including 2,400 managers, showed that only about one in five could make the best possible use of their skills in their job and thus also be correspondingly productive. For the researcher, the purpose of a task is an essential tool to avoid dismissals. Currently, one in four is actively thinking about changing their employer. This means that the first to do for companies is to avoid losing productivity by quitting. In order to increase productivity, however, it is also necessary to improve the fit between personal skills and job content, as well as to improve the ability to innovate in companies. Variety, diversity and international teams could promote creativity and spirit of innovation.

Focus on corporate culture

For Petra von Strombeck, actively working on corporate culture and creating an environment in which people feel comfortable and can show their competences to their best advantage is one of the central future tasks for companies. Hybrid work models have made the office even more of a place for social interaction, where “refuelling the corporate culture” and shared experiences are possible. For von Strombeck, it is increasingly a matter of staging offices as places of social interaction, actively involving employees in cultural processes, enabling participation and establishing more communication between managers and employees. Office work can thus serve as an effective lever for more productivity, according to the Chairwoman of NEW WORK SE, after all, corporate culture is created in the daily teamwork.


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Lifelong learning, re- and upskilling

Human resources departments are thus facing major challenges. Skills shortage and demographic change will lead to new priorities and a change in HR tasks in the future. For Fabian Kienbaum, the trend is towards more dialogue and persona marketing, but also towards a general increase in the importance of employee retention. Lifelong learning and a development of employees along their competences will be on the agenda of HR departments just as much as more freedom to learn and more individual training opportunities. In a talent market where companies have fewer and fewer employees available, internal mobility will have to be reinterpreted in the future. Developing employees according to their individual strengths, playing off fit better, offering opportunities for job rotation and providing employees with the maximum level of autonomy – according to Kienbaum, this is becoming a success factor for HR departments. According to the Co-Chief Empowerment Officer, upskilling and reskilling, the acquisition of new competencies and talent development that is more than just professional training will lead to a rethinking of careers in the future. For Kienbaum, those companies that create an attractive learning atmosphere and live an appropriate culture will have an advantage.

Lifelong learning will be more necessary than ever in the future. Shaping it in a cultural environment, that allows freedom and productivity increases based on individual strengths, will be the imperative of the new age, the participants in the panel discussion agreed.

Swantje Allmers, Co-Founder and CEO of NWMS GmbH and Co-author of the book “On the way to NEW WORK”, accompanies organisations in their realignment in the area of New Work. The consultant, trainer and executive coach previously worked in research and in various positions in companies.

Petra von Strombeck has been CEO of NEW WORK SE since May 2020. For the former CEO of Lotto24 AG, New Work and corporate culture are topics of great importance. The business graduate studied economics at the École des Affaires (now ESCP) in Paris, Oxford and Berlin.

Zuzana Blazek, Senior Researcher for Skilled Labour Security at Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) and the Competence Centre for Skilled Labour Security (KOFA), focuses on the topics of professional qualification, employer branding and future hiring. She publishes studies and gives lectures on her area of expertise.

Fabian Kienbaum is a management consultant and Managing Director of Kienbaum Consultants International. As Co-Chief Empowerment Officer at Kienbaum, the business graduate, who studied in Cologne and at École des Affaires (now ESCP) in Paris, focuses on New Work topics in the area of leadership.

Cover photo:

Fabian Kienbaum, Swantje Allmers, Zuzana Blazek, Petra von Strombeck (f.l.t.r.). The photo was taken on 20 June 2022. Photo: NEW WORK SE

The complete lecture has been made available for listening by NEW WORK SE at this link.