HR departments and works councils – accelerating the Industrie 4.0 transformation

The challenge

Businesses need to call on the expertise of their HR departments and works councils if they are going to master the Industrie 4.0 transformation process. In order to draw up personnel development plans, HR departments must be aware of the future qualification and job requirements, while works councils can help shape the digital transformation by facilitating at the interface between a business’s requirements and the interests of its employees. In everyday practice, however, it is not always possible to achieve optimal integration of a company’s HR department and works council – for a variety of reasons. As these parties have little to contribute to the technology-focused discussions that dominate Industrie 4.0 projects, they are not always adequately involved in them. As a result, neither HR departments nor works councils have much knowledge of the specific steps in the digital transformation that are being planned and implemented. What is more, they generally have trouble assessing the consequences of the transformation for employees, working conditions and employee qualifications.

Goals and outcomes

The project goal is to develop guidance and consultation guidelines that can be used within a cooperative workshop concept so as to enhance the skills of HR departments and works councils in dealing with the digital transformation.

The objectives of the cooperative workshop concept are:

  • To examine a company’s current digitalization strategy and fully understand it from the point of view of both the HR department and the works council.
  • To broaden knowledge of the technological changes that Industrie 4.0 will usher in, to build up Industrie 4.0 skills and to facilitate the sharing of examples of best practice.
  • To raise awareness of and communicate the projected changes in work organization that Industrie 4.0 technologies and applications will bring about.
  • To ascertain what phase a company has already reached in implementing Industrie 4.0 and, in the process, help estimate the change steps to be expected over the next 5-10 years.
  • To moderate methods-based discussions of the potential effects on employment, working conditions and employee qualifications.
  • To develop ideas for integrating good working conditions and personnel development concepts.
  • To enhance the ability of both the HR department and works council to articulate their thoughts and actively participate in the debate on the digital transformation process.
  • To agree specific steps in the development of a digitalization strategy and Industrie 4.0 agenda that are shared by all stakeholders.

The idea behind the workshop concept is to intensify the transfer of knowledge on Industrie 4.0 applications and technologies between internal and external experts, the HR department and the works council.

In addition to developing the workshop concept, the project will elaborate guidelines for implementing it as well as additional guidance.