An article by Lena Kletter & Tamara Winter from Lufthansa.
It was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. Since then coronavirus has spread to many countries around the world, with the World Health Organisation declaring it a pandemic. While researchers from all nations worldwide are desperately looking for a vaccine against the virus to combat the resulting lung disease COVID-19, the global economy suffers from the consequences. Of course some parts being hit more than others – the Lufthansa Group however, sadly but clearly has to be counted to the more affected ones.
Numbers from May 2020 show 95% of flights cancelled, temporarily 700 aircrafts grounded, more than 80 thousand employees in short-time work and still Lufthansa is losing due to the crisis about one million euro per hour. The situation could not be more severe for the entire airline industry and adjacent markets.
Lufthansa HR has already tackled difficult issues in the past month. Certainly, on all front lines our HR managers and business partners have done a great effort to provide professional and caring support, immediate communication and consultation concerning short-time work. As a next step, once the so-called “firefighting” is done, the role of HR in this crisis will be to support particularly the ramp-up phase. That means HR must become a strategical partner for the business, that enables the restart with tools and most important with a motivated workforce.
So this is where skill management comes into play at Lufthansa. Skill management is a mixture of knowledge management and resource management, with the aim to identify the capabilities of the workforce and to maximise their use. It helps to refine resource planning and respond to the demand from internal projects in a strategic way. A respective database and tool permits an automatic skill-based resource allocation, if the skills are registered accordingly. In fact, skills are a valuable asset of an organisation and from an HR perspective that counts at any time. But skills of the workforce become of utmost importance in times of crisis – now that many companies are facing hiring freeze and cost-cutting. We all have to rely more than ever on our internal resources.
So what are the chances of skill management in these uncertain times? And what can a possible tool look like?
We have been working on the topic of skill management long before Corona came across, but as stated before, if at all the crisis has contributed to the importance of the topic. But before we elaborate on that, I would like to highlight our initial motivation and vision from an HR angle.
When it comes to the field of people development, a skill management tool should provide statistical information to HR, which skills are most in demand and what skills the workforce possesses or does not have, yet. The gathering of such information makes benchmarking possible and gives HR very useful information, which can support strategical decisions and influence other HR measures. For example, training measures on an individual level can be planned and carried out very efficiently, based on the analysis of skill data and training needs. Easy to see that good skill management helps to qualify the workforce for current and future job challenges.
Moreover, it can also support the internal succession planning, if it is linked to performance and potential data. That data derives for example from the annual performance and potential review and indicates who would be ready for a next step. However, the next move does not necessarily need to be a vertical rotation. It could also mean increasing responsibility, a more challenging project or a step into another job family. All this can be prepared and implemented with a skill-based, cross-functional tool – a digital marketplace for project assignments.
And this is exactly what we are currently developing – a digital marketplace, where internal staff can enter their capabilities, work experience and of course what they are interested in. On the other side, colleagues and managers can post projects, workshops and events, look for experts, etc. Briefly said, it is a bottom-up, voluntary matching platform – where employees find meaningful tasks or projects and managers find an ideal contributor for their topics. A tool like this makes the fast allocation of resources with a certain skill-set to corresponding vacancies possible. It also can foster mutual support across departments and business units – coordinating supply and demand of skills and indicating where help is needed right now. After all, it serves as a platform for more agile exchange and collaboration.
One crucial and obvious target group are the talents and high performers of an organisation, who are striving for the next step. Those ones are lost the most easily due to a crisis, because they are soon under-challenged and quickly enticed away by other companies. In order to retain the talents, who will become very important during a ramp-up phase, the organisation must provide meaningful work to them, which proves, that their skills are still needed.
However, that of course counts for far more employees than just the high performers. People who are going through a crisis with their company, are understandably frustrated, often lose motivation and a career perspective. Others might desperately want to help, but do not know where their abilities are needed. They all could be inspired by a platform, which encourages one to participate and tackle challenges together.
Like this, a skill management tool can promote collaboration and further create team spirit among the workforce in times of crisis.
For HR though, it is a powerful instrument to analyse and organise the workforce according to their skill-set, while leading to a more lean, efficient and an agile way of working.
Lena Kletter is a Head of CoE Performance & Potential Management at Lufthansa. After studying psychology, she immersed herself deeply into the HR processes in a company of LSG Group, which she enjoyed immensely. With the move to the Lufthansa Group the responsibility grew and now she is responsible with her great team for feedback, performance management and succession planning processes for the whole LH Group, which is a challenging and exciting task for them. Outside of work, she loves going into the mountains and being out in nature.
Tamara Winter is a Manager Performance & Potential Management at Lufthansa. During her studies of Communication- & Media sciences, she gained a strong background in the fields of Marketing, PR and Employer Branding. She started with the Lufthansa subsidiary LSG Group in 2015 in a people development role, being responsible for global HR projects. As a next step she took over a project lead at Lufthansa in May 2019 and she is now mostly concerned with the topic of skill management, currently developing a digital marketplace for skillmatching. To her hobbies: She loves doing sports and good food – which is a great match already.