Berlin, 22 March 2017 – I was invited to take part in the awards ceremony for the first European HR Excellence Awards 2017 as a member of the jury. These awards are the most important and renowned awards in the field of HR and this year they were awarded at an international level for the first time. This was a great opportunity for me to witness the excitement and the bustling activity of an event like this from another perspective.

The day began with a joint breakfast for the jury, and then from 8:30 am onwards companies such as IBM, Siemens, Nestlé and many others took the opportunity to present their unique concepts in ten-minute presentations. The participants’ concentration was almost palpable as they flicked through their papers and reread their notes. My work for MANN+HUMMEL and my areas of focus in my everyday professional life meant that as a jury member I was responsible for the categories of Employee Development and Feedback, Employee Engagement, Change Management and Transformation, Leadership Development, Innovation of the Year and HR Analytics. The companies’ presentations and concepts were just as varied as the subjects themselves. They ranged from contacting potential candidates to campaigns for existing employees and from virtual reality glasses to traditional communication measures.

An extremely varied day

In just one day, I met numerous people and heard about countless ideas, and I then had just a short amount of time to choose the best project – not always an easy task. It was particularly tricky in the category of Employee Engagement, for example, which saw four companies presenting their projects for improving employee engagement. The team from Bristol-Myers Squibb presented their project, which they had christened Star-Team, the presenters from Leonardo Hotels explained how they had improved internal employee communication with their own app, and NTN University from Norway presented their ‘Merger Cafes’ for ensuring employee communication during a merger. The category concluded with a presentation from Schneider Electric and their current initiative ‘Step Up’. In this case, the award went to the internal app created by Leonardo Hotels, which incidentally was evaluated based on strategy, implementation, impact and innovation.

My colleagues and I were again treated to four exciting presentations in the next category, ‘Change Management & Transformation’. One of the companies presenting here was A1 Telekom Austria. This company has implemented their concept, ‘the customer needs you’ [der ‘Kunde braucht dich’], which involves listening to them, understanding them and acting according to customer requirements, with great success. The company intends to use this process to implement and promote the necessary changes within the company. This was an innovative approach that impressed both me and my colleagues and ultimately clinched the title for the representatives of this company.

A shared success

In the evening, participants were treated to the highlight of the event. At a gala evening reminiscent of the Oscars, the awards were presented to the jubilant winners at TIPI AM KANZLERAMT [a marquee theatre next to the Chancellor’s office] in Berlin. There was a fantastic atmosphere and all the participants celebrated their success, regardless of whether they won or not. It was great to see the heart and soul that has gone into these creative ideas and that HR is more than just work for those who attended. It is thanks to their commitment that the field of Human Resources has now taken on another role.  Our goal is to provide employees with the best possible conditions and this is now perceived as part of our work too. We took the opportunity to celebrate this result at the awards ceremony.

We also won the German HR Excellence Award back in 2014 for our health programme YOLO@ MANN+HUMMEL. As we have already made our mark at a national level, we will be setting our sights higher with our new innovations in the coming year. J