“Each one of us is worth a fortune running into millions”

Three questions for… the HR management expert Professor Jutta Rump

Dr Jutta Rump is Professor of General Business Administration with a focus on International HR Management and Organisational Development at the University of Applied Sciences in Ludwigshafen. For more than 10 years, she has been listed as one of the forty leading minds in HR management by Personalmagazin, a trade journal for HR professionals. At the Natural BI Summit 2019, we took the opportunity for an interview with the HR management expert who, as a project and process facilitator, has been advising numerous businesses. We asked her about the consequences of digitisation in the world of work.

You have been thinking about the consequences of digitisation beyond technology. What exactly are these consequences?

Rump: The consequences are extremely diverse, and they relate to far more than the obvious effects on technology, value chains and business models. Digitisation is thus having a huge impact on the demands we make regarding working life, the workplace, working conditions and work time models. What, for instance, does our work-life balance look like? Digitisation has considerable consequences for leadership and organisational matters too, which extend to the question of how qualifications and skills are to be gained in future, as job specifications are changing, and some job profiles will disappear altogether.

Digitisation is going to bring major changes to our working life. What strategies are available to shape this transformation in the best possible way?

Rump: The strategies are just as diverse as the consequences. In all of them, however, agility plays a key role, as do self-determination, involvement and participation. In the context of leadership, the matter of democratisation is also coming to the fore. That does not necessarily mean that anyone is to be elected. It has rather more to do with teams collaborating and interacting with one another on a relatively liberal basis. This gives rise to an incredible amount of vigour, but cannot work without rules. Many people believe, after all, that agility, participation and democratisation don’t have rules. On the contrary! The more liberal the system, then, to a certain extent, the more extreme and the more robust the set of rules governing it all needs to be.

What are the key findings of your research? What skills should we all rely on to be equipped in future for the world of work?

Rump: It’s extremely important for each of us to work on our own employability. The training that you thought would last you a lifetime will no longer be sufficient. Instead of that, a set of very specific general skills and attitudes will play a major role in future: the ability and willingness to learn, the willingness to change, but also being open and having the courage to think a bit outside the box. These are essential core competencies. Each one of us needs to realise that we only have one lifeline left – and that’s in our own employability. We can even put a figure on it. By taking your average gross annual income and multiplying it by 45, which is the number of qualifying years for a full pension, you can work out what you’re worth. You’ll see then that each one of us is worth a fortune running into millions. When we multiply an average income on the German labour market of €38,000 by the 45 years of our working lives, it comes to €1.71m. That’s the greatest asset that most people have. What are we going to do with it? That’s the key question, and it has to do with our own personal responsibility.