Xenia Meuser, VP Human Resources at XING, has more than a decade of experience in HR. She shares her expert knowledge and insights on the topic of New Work in an international context and managing international talent.
1. How do you define the concept and values of New Work?
New Work is about creating an environment where people can do what they really, really want to do. The dimensions of New Work are to be purpose-driven and offer a culture of trust, psychological security, autonomy, and self-responsibility. This, combined with the aspect of digitalization that offers opportunities like the mobile office and remote work, as well as automatization that help employees to focus more on the value-added aspects of their tasks.
2. Why is New Work important in an international talent acquisition and retention context?
Due to the global war for talent, companies have to offer an attractive work environment to international hires. Employees want to perform, and they know what they individually need to perform. In my experience, people who are able to do what they really, really want to do act in their personal flow — taking on big challenges with high competence. That is the basis for top performance. Therefore, companies are well advised to understand what drives employees and to give them tasks that fit.
That’s why they choose the employer that offers a challenge that meets their strengths best and offer the best support and benefits that are in line with their needs. This is applicable to support both inside and outside of the workplace — on a professional level but also on a personal level. For example, supporting international hires with their onboarding and integration in the work environment, but also with their social integration in their new home country. It's also not only applicable to the new employee. The company has to also care about the whole family of the newbie. It starts with the relocation, helping to find the rights schools, new friendships etc.
3. What are the benefits of New Work?
Digitalization is causing the world to become smaller, meaning more job opportunities (remote work) and bigger recruiting markets for the employers. Automatization helps to reduce routine work. Therefore, employees have more time for interesting tasks that cannot be automatized. One mega trend of New Work is that people want more and more flexibility and part-time options. It is necessary to offer different working models and benefits like sabbaticals and holiday+ as XING does. Furthermore, international workforces often offer more diversity. And diversity is the basis for innovation and success.
4. How have employee needs changed over the years and what should employers do to keep up with the times?
Employees are longing for purpose. The “old” career model is dead and employees are more self-confident, because they can choose their jobs. Furthermore, the people manager role has changed from the one and only decision-maker, who thinks and the others have to follow or execute without thinking, to the people manager who is an enabler who clears the way of obstacles.
Employers have to understand the needs of employees and their individual drivers, they should have an open dialogue with them, and help them to do what they really, really want to do. That is why we believe in transparency at XING. For example, each week, via our mood-o-meter tool, we ask our employees how good we perform as an employer. The colleagues vote anonymously and are invited to add comments to explain their voting, or ask the top management questions frankly. The results are presented weekly in our company meeting and commented on by the Board. Furthermore, we have transparent salary ranges in all of the countries we are located in to enhance transparency, also in this dimension.
5. How is workforce internationalization changing the HR landscape in terms of talent acquisition and retention, and employee benefits?
In my experience, employees mostly leave their people manager and not the company. So, it is helpful for organizations to invest in, for example, leadership skills and cultural trainings, to help managers adapt to workforce internationalization and deal with it in a constructive manner.
It is very important to hire diverse teams in order to reach top performance. Therefore, organizations need people managers and recruiters who are able to understand the drivers of the candidates, as well as their various strengths to form diverse, high-performing teams.
In my experience benefits are just a hygiene factor. Of course employers must catch up with the competitors at the recruiting market to attract high calibers. But the most important factors that make people stay are social glue and meaningfulness of their work.
6. In an international context, what are the key HR challenges you currently experience?
Although the internationalization of our working world has a lot advantages for companies, managing remote teams means new types of cooperation. These need to be established and is bringing about its own challenges. But, New Work also brings changes with it. Over the next years, due to technical developments such as artificial intelligence (AI), professional competencies will become less and less important. Instead, social skills are becoming increasingly important. In contrast to technical know-how, which can be trained well if the cognition is sufficient, soft skills are difficult to train.
Employers, therefore, need to hire the right personalities that best fit the job. As mentioned before, soft skills are becoming more and more important for people managers too. Last but not least, the war for talent will make recruiting harder and harder. So we have to find new sources and recruiting channels.
7. Any final advice to HR managers?
My advice to HR managers is to open their mind to the opportunities that New Work brings. That also means that HR managers are no longer in the role of administrators and control, but need to understand the business, their needs, and ultimately offer suitable solutions.
About the Expert: Xenia Meuser found her profession early on. Since studying business administration at the WAH, she has been involved in human resources — whether at the beginning of her career as an HR generalist at Tchibo or later on as part of the Otto Group. Here she initially headed the HR Consulting Department before setting up the first KPI-based recruiting center for the Otto Group. Later, she led the Change Management Department for Otto Group IT, before starting at XING in 2013 as VP Human Resources. Since then, she and her team have been driving HR work forward in the spirit of New Work and are accompanying the dynamic growth of the company.