The European HR market continues to be strong for ChapmanCG, and we have recently noted the following key trends in the region:

Team Management – or Not

We are seeing a strong desire in the European market for commercially orientated Senior HR Directors. This is occurring most often for global HRBP styled roles, whereby this individual sits as right hand person or business advisor to the business VP, whilst being closely aligned to functional HR. More often than not, this role reports into the CHRO or the HR number two, and often has only one or two direct reports, if any. Rather than managing a team, this person is expected to act as a strong influencer across multiple stakeholders, most importantly with the COE’s and Operations or Shared Services, but increasingly with Country or BU Heads as well. As a result we are seeing high potential or up-and-coming HR professionals gaining flexibility and business understanding through these roles that do not have significant levels of direct team leadership, but rather consist of more indirect and cross-functional influencer relationships.

The Continued Rise of the Specialist

Undoubtedly across all levels HR Generalists with specialist experience, business or line experience are viewed more favourably than those without this exposure. Having held a variety of Head office or in-market roles is also viewed in a positive light. There is a continued focus on specialist roles in Talent and Learning across areas such as Organisational Design, Performance Management, Leadership Development and Learning Academies. We feel this is due to an increased recognition of the importance of these functions, amongst the business stakeholders.

HR Operations Refocus

We are also seeing numerous organisations, particularly those in the Pharmaceutical/Healthcare and FMCG sectors, wanting to refocus on their HR operations. This may involve looking at how successful a Shared Services implementation has been, or it might include a continued focus on how effectively the HRBP function is working. In some cases organisations are embracing newly created roles where the HR operations head has an increased holistic responsibility across a broader remit. This may include the CEO, Shared Services and/or HR business partnering, which offers the ability for increased impact, due to a wider span of control.

Multi-Market Experience

There is almost always a preference for those who have worked in more than one market, and more specifically for exposure to what are often described as emerging markets. The geographic preference in terms of emerging markets tends to include Asia, but there is also an increased awareness for other non-traditional emerging markets, such as parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East or Africa.

It’s Getting Complicated

Our searches are becoming more complex and specific in nature, in terms of the exposure required, and we are seeing in the majority of cases a preference for a certain industry or geographic experience. We have noticed a very strong demand for high potential individuals with business backgrounds and strong analytical skills, the expected ‘People skills’ (listening, engaging, influencing) in HR, and more often than not a passion for or strong experience in Talent Development, Rewards and Mobility in that order.

Demand for senior-level HR professionals continues to be competitive in all of the major European markets, although interestingly we have seen a lot more movement in the first quarter of 2015 in the Rewards space than ever before. According to Tim Rayner, Director with ChapmanCG, “Because businesses now realise the importance of having first-class rewards strategies in place, they are increasing the expectations of their people in this space. We are seeing a progression from good analysts and numbers people, to those who have that core skill, but are also change agents, business partners and top-level influencers."

Tim Rayner is a Director with ChapmanCG, based in Spain. With a primary focus on Europe, Tim works across both Asia and Europe to identify HR talent worldwide.