The company as a learning organisation

Modern HR work takes into account the dynamics in the labour market and the needs of the company’s own workforce. In an interview, Stefanie Klaerding (SK), Head of HR Development and Employer Branding of the Doors Division, discusses the strategy for these areas.

Employer branding is a central key to being attractive to applicants in the – sometimes highly competitive – labour market. How does the Doors Division position itself as an employer brand?

SK: At the Doors Division, we see two main challenges for our strategic HR work in respect to employer branding. The first challenge is recruiting and the associated shortage of skilled workers. This starts with trainees and ends with highly specialised IT workers. In many areas, there is an employee’s market and graduates and students are very well aware of this. In the area of employer branding, our main goal is therefore to make the individual companies and in particular the Doors Division as a whole so attractive in the labour market that we attract the best. And we have to do this in a target-group-specific way via the various channels of communication – from classic printed advertisements to social media.

And what is the second challenge?

SK: We see this in the retention of our employees. We have to be so attractive as an employer that we keep our good colleagues with us over the long term. Incentives for this include interesting benefits, exciting, cross-division projects and further education as well. This is why the two areas of HR development and employer branding are closely interlinked in the Doors Division. The employees want to continue their education – and have to do this as well – to keep pace with the new developments and achieve the best performance for the company. This not only holds true in areas such as digitisation but also in respect to topics such as leadership or project management.

What demands do you perceive from the young generation in particular?

SK: Especially younger applicants place a great deal of value on the topic of corporate culture and are very different from the baby boomers and Generation X, especially in Generations Y, Z and the upcoming Alphas. For Generation Z and Alpha, meaningful and sustainable work is a focal point. Can I help to shape things? Can I contribute ideas? What is the work-life balance like? The demands go far beyond the hard facts such as salary and position. The younger ones above all want to have fun at work and feel involved. In other words, they do not want to work at a company but on and with a company.

When you think about a brand, it is about distinctiveness. What qualities make Arbonia Doors distinctive as an employer?

SK: We are currently in the process of refining our employer brand further and pushing it in a more target-group-specific way. At the Doors Division, we already cover the wishes of our target groups. On the one hand, we are locally very connected with our companies, and on the other hand, as part of the Arbonia Group we can ensure a versatile employee development with a Europe-wide training. "Work locally, think globally" characterises the brand of our division.

How flexible is such an employer branding when the demands differ between the individual generations?

SK: A company is always a living and learning entity. With each new generation that we onboard, with each trainee course, new impulses are added. For example, we are currently changing over our entire social medial channels to the new demands of the generations, improving our internal and external communication through targeted measures and developing a cross-division HR development with a focus on leadership and performance management. Our goal is for us to continually re-invent ourselves and develop further together with our employees.

How do you develop the right messages so that the employer brand stays authentic with all the adjustments?

SK: For this purpose, we speak with a lot of employees, do workshops, look into the executive programmes. I regularly meet with executives, employees, trainees, as well as trainers and we also intensively exchange ideas across divisions. In doing so, it is important to us not to approach the matter too conceptionally but pragmatically together with the employees.

You link the topic of employee retention with HR development. What opportunities and incentives do you offer employees?

SK: HR development starts in pre-onboarding and onboarding. We then accompany the employee during his or her entire career at the company. We do not see employee development as a collection of forms that are eventually deposited somewhere and whose measures, which are usually derived according to a watering-can principle, end up in some rigid programmes. While their sense and above all impact are usually not measured. Instead, we always learn through employee and feedback discussions, performance appraisals and digitally supported talent reviews precisely where employees stand and what kind of individual development they need to be able to perform their tasks even better. We do not want a talent management where we administer employees, instead we believe in talent empowerment in which employees continually develop further through us.

HR work will become even more flexible in the future and be even more strongly oriented to key performance indicators. What does that mean concretely for your day-to-day work?

SK: We work with modern digital systems which naturally monitor our key performance indicators – whether in recruiting or in development. However, we use them not only to measure the use of budgets and the return on investment but also the sustainability of the measures as well. After all, good HR work – and thus also the employer branding and the corresponding HR development – is ultimately not an end in itself but always has the central goal of improving the company’s performance.

What is the goal of employer branding?

Employer branding is a strategic corporate measure to present a company as an attractive employer on the whole to existing and potential employees and to gain an edge on competitors.

The generations:

1946 – 1964

1965 – 1980

1981 – 1996

1997 – 2010

2011 – 2025

Baby boomers