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New Hiring: "The talent journey goes well beyond the recruiting process"

Retaining and developing employees is part of the program at the European technology consultancy IKOR - even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Stefan Alfermann, Recruiting Manager in the HR team at IKOR's Hamburg headquarters, sees New Hiring as a continuous improvement process. He spoke about New Work Culture, recruiting, onboarding and continuity as part of the new online event series "60 minutes New Hiring" under the aegis of New Work SE (Xing) (from minute 44:00, in German).


"A new understanding of recruiting"

Under the title of the online event series "60 minutes New Hiring", Kira Niklas (New Work SE), Jutta Krey (forsa) and Stefan Alfermann (IKOR) spoke about how companies can achieve "New Hiring" - sustainable recruiting methods, concepts and tools. The focus was on a successful working world of tomorrow.

Stefan Alfermann speaks from minute 44:00 (in German)

IKOR recruiter Stefan Alfermann shares practical experiences: From remote recruiting and onboarding to working life with virtual dialogues.

As a technology consultancy, in an economic sector characterized by high labor demand, recruiting has always driven IKOR: "We view New Hiring as a talent journey that goes well beyond pure recruiting. This is one of our key success factors. This is how IKOR succeeds in constantly expanding its own competitiveness and implementing its own growth strategy over the long term," emphasizes Alfermann, who has been driving recruiting at IKOR since 2017 and is responsible for its continuous optimization.

This is important, because the number of employees at IKOR has tripled since 2017 and currently stands at around 300 IKORians (which corresponds to an average of 30 to 50 new employees annually) at eight locations in Germany, Austria, Serbia, Poland and the UK. Since the start of the pandemic at the beginning of 2020 alone, almost 80 new colleagues have joined IKOR.

At IKOR, New Hiring encompasses recruiting, onboarding and continuous retention through employee development and cultural work. "In line with our company value 'Be what you are, show what you can do', we consciously look for personalities. Cultural diversity is particularly valuable in a constantly growing company," Alfermann is convinced.

Recruiting: "The decisive factor is speed"

This starts with recruiting: Because knowledge workers have long been able to choose their job offers in the technology sector, IKOR involves its team leads and respective employees in the newhire application process at an early stage. Through networking, applicants and new hires gain insight into the IKOR culture and immerse themselves in the company's professional as well as technical expertise. "This not only raises the professional level of the interviews. It also signals to new colleagues how important authenticity and empathy are to us." To this end, IKORians who have been working at the company for some time and are involved in the application process undergo in-house training. The declared aim is to structure job interviews, develop questioning techniques and apply them themselves. A comprehensive recruiting manual supports them in this. "The decisive factor is the speed with which good talent wants to be recruited. We try to inspire them over two, maximum three interviews until a decision is made and, if they like each other, bring them on board. In the past two pandemic years, this has also worked very well via video conferencing," explains Alfermann.

Onboarding: Recruiting does not end with the signing of the contract

Recruiting is a continuous process that goes far beyond onboarding. To ensure that IKORians can integrate well despite the company's strong growth, the HR team has drawn up a robust process guideline for up to six months of onboarding. The core idea is to integrate many players from various departments into the onboarding process at an early stage. "Every new employee is assigned a mentor. The mentors are caretakers who accompany new colleagues as permanent contacts," emphasizes Alfermann. In the department teams, permanent colleagues act as a HR point of contact between the units in which the new colleagues will be working and the HR department. "In consulting, we work on a project basis and across teams. To promote this type of collaboration, new IKORians should establish contact with as many teammates and managers as possible as early as possible and thus be able to network," explains Alfermann. "In this way, we succeed in exemplifying our culture and making it tangible for new colleagues." Through networking, applicants and new hires gain insight into the IKOR culture and immerse themselves in the company's professional as well as technical expertise. Onboarding includes numerous offerings such as Welcome Days, which take place three times a year, or the centrally organized monthly Onboarding Day on the first day of work. In both formats, new colleagues learn more about the company and its culture while getting to talk to other collegues and managers.

The pandemic acts as a new-work catalyst

Recruiter Stefan Alfermann does not see the fact that collaboration since the start of the pandemic has been predominantly virtual (previously, consultants spent an average of four days per week working on site at the customer) as an obstacle: "Virtual management has always played an important role at IKOR because the teams have always worked together at different locations since IKOR was founded 25 years ago. "We are currently anchoring this orientation even more clearly in our management responsibilities. We are also working to develop flexible hybrid solutions. The pandemic serves as a catalyst for us to further advance New Work Culture - also in recruiting.

Continuity after the probationary period: differentiation via culture, further training and benefits

IKOR succeeds in retaining colleagues in the long term - a Herculean task in the software industry - because four years ago they transformed from a classic top-down, line structure to an agile matrix organization. IKOR undertook this transformation in order to better align itself with the market from the customer's perspective. This means that core teams are limited to a maximum of seven people to remain manageable. As growth creates new teams, low-threshold opportunities through which individuals can develop into leadership roles also arise. Changing the professional focus is also possible for individuals with the appropriate strengths and endorsements from their professional circle.

With the focus on quantitative and qualitative growth, it is hardly surprising that IKOR has made continuous development mandatory for every colleague. "According to HR expert Alfermann's recommendation, every employee should regularly consult with their managers, select professional technical, methodological or soft skills-related topics from the company’s extensive training catalog and book appropriate seminars."

Whether it's further development, benefits (e.g., support for dual studies, childcare costs, sabbatical, the lifetime work account, culture, company bicycle) or employee representation, IKOR has an established program: "We do a lot for personnel development and skills training," sums up Alfermann, who is always discovering new potential.

– Conclusion

Hold and develop

New Hiring at IKOR has the character of a continuous improvement process. The HR team takes the lead in reviewing and regularly adjusting this journey. By giving new hires many opportunities to immerse themselves in the culture through networking, IKOR's new hires can build their professional as well as technical expertise. They can also discover many new facets of the company. Alfermann wants to stay "at least one step ahead" of the competition: "Our goal is not to have to keep recruiting new people, but to retain them, develop them into IKORians and inspire them so that they stay with us for as long as possible."

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