What challenges are HR professionals facing today and what opportunities can they benefit from? To find it out, we participated for the very first time this year to the HR Bar Camp event in Berlin. More than 200 HR professionals took part in this “non-conference”.

What is a BarCamp?

Not the typical conference where someone holds a presentation in front of passive listeners, following a precise agenda. Instead, a BarCamp is an open discussion based on the spontaneous initiatives of its participants who make the agenda on the go. Anyone can suggest a topic, pitch it in one sentence and submit it to the others´ vote.

Curious about how this would work with so many people, we were positively surprised by how smoothly it all went. Within minutes, a huge line of participants formed, all ready to pitch. 48 topics were suggested this year. Participants were then given points they could use to vote on topics they would like to discuss in detail.

36 topics made it on the 2-day agenda, giving us in the very beginning already, a good idea of the main trends and pain points driving HR today. Objective #1: check!

Digitalization, Recruiting and New Work dominated the talks.

From “Coding in HR” and “Remote Work” to “People Analytics”and “Artificial Intelligence”, the opportunities of digitalization are definitely a hot topic!

Artificial intelligence came up in many sessions. Particularly, the possibilities that AI software solutions enable for ad placements, applicant selection or active sourcing. An interesting debate about whether AI is replacing the human touch in HR or not, took place. The conclusion was that a “middle-way” solution would be the best. One example would be to use the benefits of AI such as automated postings and advertising, to enable the human focus to be on candidate selection. Very interesting!

Digitalization however was only a runner-up to recruiting which was the main theme this year. With sessions about trust and empowerment in recruiting, the challenges of the new generation, employee engagement, talent attraction, obsolete use of job advertisement or onboarding as a main part of employee experience.

“New work” on the other hand also seemed to be of great interest with many sessions such as “New-work quartet” or “Learning vs. Working”: a session about how to motivate employees to learn, what learning formats to offer and how to give them enough time to balance work and development. Some of the results were: open failure culture, management setting an example and involving employees in strategy definition, gamification to incentivize learning and much more!

Despite some recurrent topics, there were also some great sessions about “Love HR Hate Racism”“Are Women worst at Networking?”“Design Thinking in HR”“Emotional IntelligenceMindfulness & Meditation” or “Working Moms”.

Although it was our first time participating in such an event, our focus topic was also chosen for a detailed session: innovative skill management.

Why skill management?

We have been noticing an increased necessity and difficulty to manage skills within an organization. Due to digitalization and changes in the workplace, qualification requirements are changing faster than employees can be recruited or re-skilled. This leads to a large skill gap. The topic in general created a lot of interest and many participants shared their negative experiences dealing with skill management. One common issue is the failure of skill catalogues to become “living documents” that are up-to-date. Instead, they remain static documents with no clearly defined role. Existing skills are thus not accurate and do not enable strategic planning and employee development.

We therefore split the participants of our session in three groups to answer the following questions:

  • How can organizations define and present both current and future skill requirements effectively?
  • How can employees continuously and rapidly develop skill that are in line with market and company needs?
  • How could gamification help improve skill management processes?

The results confirmed the need of a new solution for better skill management. Objective #2: check! We also got a lot of good input about how this solution could look like and should be introduced. We are now actively working on developing one. Objective #3: check!

Overall many interesting talks, great people and a lot of fun (Objective #4: check!): an experience to recommend!