With the ongoing decline in workforce numbers, surely automation is needed?
In some countries – Brazil, China, Germany, for example, we’re seeing a drastic shrinkage of the workforce. Japan is losing one million workers per year to retirements. They have lost six million so far, and in the next five years they will lose another five million. Automation can help plug this gap. So, too, can a more flexible workforce – this is reality, not just hype. The best example is Germany, which is among the top five countries in robotisation. We do 30% of our German revenues with car manufacturers, one of the most robotised industries. We supplied skilled workers, who often after working temporarily for us, end up being hired full-time by the automakers.
Speaking of hiring – hasn’t that process changed a lot through social media?
Society is becoming ever more transparent, and the younger generation wants transparency. When looking for a job in the past, you would have a reference check with schools and former employers. We still do this, but we also recognise the role of social media. Candidates are more exposed, and thus visible to recruiters like us who are embracing social media. Social media enables us to attract more candidates and helps us to find more work and training opportunities for them.
“Our job is to upskill, reskill, deploy and redeploy people so they can embrace the new economy.”
Is the job market more competitive, thanks to the Internet?
For certain jobs that are highly skilled and highly international, this is true. Candidates can come from most anywhere and go most anywhere. Nationalities are less important than they were. For instance, here at the Adecco Group headquarters in Zurich, we have 30 nationalities among around 200 colleagues. And young people are more mobile than they were. My four children, for example, work in three different countries, and none of those is Switzerland. The Internet and digitisation is also opening up fantastic new frontiers and huge opportunities for our industry, with apps and chatbots creating new areas of growth, improving how we work, and giving our customers the tools they need to succeed in the digital age.
Employer-rating websites have confronted your customers with transparency, right?
Ratings platforms provide wonderful ways for potential employees to get to know possible employers. They allow candidates to screen companies according to criteria of their own personal importance. One of our group’s ambitions is to be and to remain a great place to work – this is a competitive advantage. When one of my sons began looking for full employment, he was unsure of which direction to choose, so he simply selected the 50 best places to work, and then applied only to those. We want to have that kind of reputation and trust among employees and potential employees.
What about salary transparency, that’s coming as well, isn’t it?
My salary is already transparent, and the forerunner in this area is Scandinavia. In Norway, for instance, all tax returns are published online. All you need is a smartphone, and you can find out exactly how much your neighbour or your colleague or anybody else earns. One of the key criteria of being a great place to work is transparency. People want to be able to trust, but they also want proof that their company is trustworthy. Transparency is proof of trust.
How do you personally use social media?
I have a public role; I need to be transparent. So, I am on social media channels, and I know that my activity is out in the open. The technology I’m really waiting for is holography. If I can replicate myself as a hologram, then I can reduce my travelling time and truly be in two places at once.
Short questions – short answers
What’s your favourite app?
Adia, Adecco’s new end-to-end online HR platform for clients and candidates.
Can you still remember your very first mobile phone? Which model was it?
A Motorola StarTAC.
What kind of screen saver do you have?
A photo of me and my family.