Best of HR –®

Thomas Egenter is Human Resources Manager at Hansgrohe, a medium-sized company Companys based in the Black Forest. In an interview, he talks about his experiences with home office regulations, the reaction to the shortage of skilled workers and employer branding in the SME.

Thoma Egenter studied business administration at the Schwenningen vocational academy, specializing in industry, and wrote his diploma thesis in the field of human resources management. He has been with the fittings and shower manufacturer Hansgrohe since graduating in 1992, initially as head of the commercial department Vocational Training, later as a personnel officer, head of wage and salary accounting and head of the company suggestion scheme. Since 2000 he has been Head of Human Resources at the German company.

Mr. Egenter, flexible workplace and home office regulations are not often found in medium-sized companies.

For us, flexible workplace regulations are completely normal. At our Schiltach site, around 2.200 of the 30 employees work remotely and around 80-100 work from home.

What is the difference between home office and teleworking?

Teleworkers work at home for one or two days a week. These days are also contractually fixed.

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The home office regulations are more flexible: The Employees can stay at home for a day from one day to the next and for example on one Projects work. This is not contractually stipulated, but our employees have to work from home System register, so that in case of accidents we Insurance be able to prove that work was actually done at home.

In which areas do employees work from home or telework?

For example in human resources Accounting, on sale or the IT – actually in almost all areas except in production and in production-related areas.

How does the home office regulation look like - can employees go home when they want?

Not quite. If someone wants to work at home four days a week, that is not possible, we allow a maximum of two days a week. Even if appointments were to be missed because of the home office, that would be absurd. But our employees have just as much personal responsibility, which is why we trust them to manage it themselves.

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If, for example, my employee from HR development tells me that she will stay at home tomorrow to prepare a project, that is not Problem. With this scheme we have consistently positive Made experiences.

There are companies that allow their employees to work completely from home. Isn't the German middle class still a little old-fashioned?

No, it has nothing to do with that. It's simply an organizational question: There are a lot of coordination processes in our company, so the employees have to be in constant communication with each other. This is best done on site.

There are also reconciliation processes, for example, in IT companies. What is different with you?

With our faucets and showers, we make products to touch. Since we have subsidiaries in 42 countries and export 80 percent of our products abroad, we have to adapt the design to the respective markets, for example. This requires several adjustments between product development, designers and sales, which can only be done on site.

If you follow the Workplace of the Future report from the IT company Citrix, then companies also use flexible workplace solutions to save office space. Was that crucial for you when introducing home office solutions?

Of course, it's ideal when two teleworkers get together Workplace share, but that wasn't the point: on the one hand, flexible working hours were repeatedly mentioned by applicants, for free time and privacy have a completely different status today than 20 years ago - keyword Generation Y. Today, companies have to focus on their employees apply - not the other way around.

Above all, however, the topic was actively inquired about by our employees who are returning from maternity leave - as a company you should pay attention to the needs of its highly skilled workforce.

For the same reason, we offer, for example, during the school holidays a care for the children, with which then for example excursions are made. And even if family members are ill, we help with consulting services to find suitable help.

You were just talking about the generation Y - do you feel a skilled labor force?

So far we have still been able to cushion any problems, but that is also because we are training disproportionately ...

What exactly does that mean in numbers?

Overall, we employ approximately 140 trainees, each year, 40-50 are added, and almost all of them are usually taken over as well.

Nevertheless, of course one must be prepared for the demographic change: The location Schiltach is located in the countryside, the next largest cities such as Stuttgart are about 90 minutes away. You have to come up with something to be attractive as an employer.

What do you think? What does your employer branding look like?

We have set up a comprehensive campaign, where our own employees appear as testimonials on ads and in Youtube videos and promote Hansgrohe as an employer. We are also targeting the graduates at trade fairs.

Most successful, so that Feedback, our personnel marketing is always there, where who is personally in contact with the potential employees Contact came or if they got to know the company personally.

What are you looking for?

In principle, all: engineers, computer scientists but also business economists who can be used flexibly. Although we manufacture 80% of our products in Germany, we also have production sites in the USA, China, France and the Netherlands, and we have approximately 42 employees worldwide with our 3.500 subsidiaries.

That's why we always expect applicants to have an international background: they should have studied, lived or even worked abroad at least once. Internationality is an increasingly important economic factor.

Do you also advertise your employees abroad?

A good 10-12 percent of our employees come from abroad, but some have been in Germany for a long time. Recently we targeted someone for that Business Development Latin America sought and found in Portugal.

Of course, to hire someone like that, a company must also be prepared to help them with housing, bureaucracy and languageCourses.

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