[CONTENU PARTENAIRE] Interview with Philippe Ferry, President of ACT-ON GROUP, IS&HR consulting firm. The latter is returning to the challenges and expectations at the economic level, inside and outside its sector, on the eve of the 2022 presidential election and at a time when the consequences of the war in Ukraine could have serious consequences for the eurozone.
With the possible return of COVID, can we say that the organization initiated the necessary modernization and digitalization of HR functions early enough?
Human Resources Departments (HRD) did not wait for COVID to begin its transformation. In recent years, the HR function has been redesigned to take on new roles and not just payroll and legal administration as it used to be.
Now it is a lever to accelerate work in the organization. It is also an actor who accompanies companies in their transformation by managing employee commitment, helping to create a new corporate culture, implementing new processes to improve hiring, etc.
As a result, HR departments have had to arm themselves with IT, technology and digital tools to enable them to take on these new challenges. COVID, for its part, has played the role of a catalyst, an accelerator of these transformations, in particular, the massive appeal to remote work. We can also be glad that this digital shift was initiated before COVID, otherwise economic activity (especially in the service sector) would have stalled much harder.
How specifically do you respond to the requests made by your customers today?
Current requests from human rights defenders to ACT-ON GROUP cover three main groups. This concerns, first of all, regulatory and legal aspects. Growing demands on these issues (social data, corporate social responsibility, GDPR, parity, etc.) mean they are becoming more important in budgets.
The second family includes inquiries related to the work of the company, for which HRD is increasingly being contacted. Hence the importance of equipping yourself with the tools to solve these problems. However, many HR departments are not yet equipped with information systems and digital applications that would enable them to manage careers, training, recruitment, or even give the company the means to bring employee experiences to life.
Finally, the third family of requests is specifically technological. It consists, among other things, in providing the organization with the keys to optimize the use of data in order to make predictions, anticipate needs and propose specific actions in accordance with the desired effects.
But that’s not all. Today we see how the HR departments of CAC 40 companies are equipped with RPA, automation and robotization (for example, chatbots). This allows for the delegation of first-level support functions and allows HR departments to focus on tasks with real added value.
Could the current fears of stagflation, caused in particular by the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia, become a brake on business investment in these areas?
The economic risks are real. Even if the war does not drag on, it is clear that Europe remains very dependent on Russia and especially vulnerable (unlike the US or Asia). In this sense, the sanctions imposed against him will also cost our companies dearly, risking a serious blow to their budgets. Because I remind you that the basis of the whole economy is energy… and that everything related to energy therefore affects our economy.
In such a context, transformation projects may be affected. Moreover, the personnel department is one of the auxiliary functions for which budgets are often frozen during a crisis. This is the fear that we have, with all the implications it can have for our group, as well as for the entire consulting and business services sector.
On the other hand, certain strong trends on which ACT-ON GROUP is positioned will continue, despite economic tensions or not. I mean, for example, major hiring issues (the famous war for talent) or legal obligations, with the need for organizations to respond to them by implementing processes that will improve their work in the field.
The presidential elections will take place in this complex context. What do you want for the next five years?
Before talking about the future, let’s briefly dwell on the previous five-year plan. It has undergone numerous reforms (withholding tax, calculation of social security contributions, part-time work due to COVID, remote work agreements, etc.) that have affected the regulatory framework and therefore “shaken up” the work of human rights defenders .
We have also witnessed the modernization of the state, in particular through the digitization of public services (State WeTransfer, online registration in the voter lists, servicepublic.fr, various and varied applications, online taxes, etc.).
We expect that from the next five-year term, no matter who is elected, there will be no going back. There is nothing worse than canceling to redo and then redo. Hence the importance of defining a clear vision, a long-term trajectory and ensuring real continuity in the actions taken.
In short, we must set a visible and encouraging course. This is all the more important as the “COVID + war” context retains real economic uncertainty.
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