Human Resources Management

"If you want a modern, functioning Studierendenwerk, you also have to make modern structures possible."

Andreas Schülke - Interim Head of Human Resources Management

In addition to human resources, the Human Resources Management department is responsible for occupational health and safety, insurance, fleet management, occupational integration management and occupational health management.

2022, what title do you give the year?
If you had to give the year 2022 a title from the perspective of human resources management, it would probably be the term "aftermath". In all of our departments, the Studierendenwerk's predictions from the past that the true extent of the dislocation in the labour market would only really become visible after the pandemic and that the labour market would become very tight for employers came true. That's why our big and all-dominant topic last year was employer marketing.

What was the greatest challenge for personnel management in 2022?
The Studierendenwerk's possibilities to stand out from other employers as an attractive employer are limited by the requirements of the collective agreement of the federal states (TVL). Especially in a very tight labour market, our competitors can entice us with offers that are not available to the Studierendenwerk. That's why, after the pandemic, we got the impression that we were falling further and further behind in the race for good new staff.

That's why - after all the classic ways of looking for new staff did not lead to the desired success - we went down creative new paths. The idea of our university catering department to hold a speed-dating event for temporary catering staff was a real game-changer in the race for new employees and we were happy to support it. But unfortunately, from our point of view, this is only a temporary positive effect. At the latest, when our competitors in the labour market follow suit with creative recruiting, the old gap to the top will be restored.

Oh yes, and of course the complete reorganisation of the department in 2022 was also an important topic. We were able to hire three colleagues on a permanent basis at the clerical level. At the end of the business year, the department was well staffed again and could devote itself not only to operational but also to strategic issues.

What has to happen so that the Studierendenwerk can face future challenges in the labour market?
In my opinion, the current situation on the labour market must also be reflected in new possibilities in the collective agreement of the federal states if we don't want to lose touch. It may be that these are only temporary effects, but we also need an answer to them - preferably a temporary one. Simply holding out and seeing what happens cannot be the political plan.

For example, 20 per cent of the workforce in the catering sector has left the industry. No one can say whether this is permanent or only a temporary effect of the pandemic. The situation is not much different in the day-care sector. The new day-care law has made the job of educator less attractive and has clearly distanced itself from the professional reality of life.
But even if these are only temporary effects - which I doubt - the situation will ease only very slowly. Too slowly to simply wait and see.

Why is that?
In my opinion, because of two effects. One is that confidence in an industry sector like hospitality has to be rebuilt first. Secondly, in other departments, what people want from their own workplace has changed a lot in recent years. I notice that almost no job interview is without questions about topics such as work-life balance, home office, mobile working and lifetime working account. It is clear that work should and must increasingly fit life and not vice versa. Current discussions about the introduction of a four-day week are also fuelling this trend. As an employer, this makes the search much more difficult. The question of whether the new job really fits in with life now often comes before the question of what one actually earns in the new job. This must make us think and we must react to it.

So what is to be done?
The Studierendenwerk must develop its own concepts on how to satisfy these wishes. With the preparation of a service agreement on mobile working and the creation of the associated technical solution with our IT, we are definitely on the right track here. But it is also important to send a signal to those with political responsibility. Because we urgently need help, more incentives and more flexible, modern employment contracts. Of course, we also hope that the collective agreement of the federal states follows the clear demands of the United Services Union verdi, because we are also losing out in terms of pay and additional benefits to the employment contract.

What effects are you already feeling?
The Studierendenwerk has always been a good and secure employer. But the high turnover in the administration speaks a clear language and is a reflection of the beginning erosion.

Another example: now - with a pandemic behind us - we lack the staff to reopen our locations. And this is not because we have not tried everything on the labour market, but because applicants are either choosing other employers or the labour market is empty.

What are your goals at the Studierendenwerk?
My goal is to give the personnel management a new structure to make the Studierendenwerk future-proof. But I think that won't work without support from politics and the collective bargaining partners. We have already made the absolute most of the situation and made employer marketing the main topic of the year and pretty sure of the next few years. We call on all parties to the collective agreement to support us in this task by offering more possibilities for shaping labour agreements.

In 2022, we have taken the first steps to be able to tackle occupational integration management and the issues of occupational health management / occupational health care. Probably the most important step here was that in November 2022 we created an in-house position that will primarily deal with these issues from 2023 onwards.

What is your medium-term forecast in the area of human resources management?
The battle for a good position on the labour market will continue. And we will do everything we can to be at the forefront. But I have to send a clear signal to the politicians: Allow us more modern, up-to-date and flexible structures in the design of employment contracts so that we can remain a good, secure, popular and sought-after employer.

Your contact person for the area
Andreas Schülke
Managing Director / Acting Head of Human Resources
Xylanderstrasse 17
76829 Landau
Tel.: +49 6341 9179 102