Annual Conference 2008



CyHRMA Chairman's Speech at the Annual Conference 2008

This year’s conference concentrated on HRM practices in SMEs while also presenting studies by the CRANET Network as well as the CIPD. The numerous speakers, presenters and plenary session participants from Cyprus and abroad were all distinguished HR and business professionals as well as academics with breadth of knowledge and experience to share with the audience.

The conference started with the welcoming speeches by officials and academics who support our Association’s work and efforts to keep up to date with the latest HR trends. After the welcoming speeches, the 1st presentation of the conference "Latest developments in HRM: The CRANET Wisdom" by Professor Chris Brewster focused on the slow but steady moves of HR practices towards e-HRM, shared services, outsourcing and strategic HRM amongst others. This was followed by a panel of HR professionals from local SMEs, coordinated by Mr. George Ashikalis, who had a lively debate, answering questions from the audience on the Current HRM practices in Cyprus in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. The panel talked about their own challenges as HR Managers and shared their experiences.

Then, the distinguished Professor, Nancy Papalexandris of Athens University of Economics and Business spoke about the increasing trend of HR getting involved in Corporate Social Responsibility and business ethics for sustainable development. This is increasingly viewed as an important consideration in business today.

She was followed by Professor Phil Benson of New Mexico State University who talked about The Future of Jobs: How do We Organise Work for the 21st Century. Professor Benson argued that the future of jobs as we define them today has to be redefined as modern work. He believes that the focus from quantitative is shifting to qualitative. Quantitative job loss is reduction in headcount. Qualitative job loss is change in the nature of the work done. He also talked about the move towards generalist roles vs specialist and structuring work in such a way that people are held accountable for getting work done, not for “doing their job”. A lot of current HRM practices and re-engineering work processes are moving towards this direction.

The afternoon of the 1st conference day continued with 3 concurrent sessions. The 1st one, presented by Dr. Betty Tsakarestou and Mrs. Demetra Iordanoglou of Panteio University, Greece, explained the benefits of Experiental Learning, where and how it can be practiced. The 2nd one, by Mr. Peter Andreou a well-known, local trainer, Managing Director of People Achieve, Cyprus was an interactive session exploring the challenges and competencies of HR Executives and it offered a personal roadmap on how to achieve the implementation of strategic HR leadership. The 3rd concurrent session of the day dealt with Employee Engagement. This presentation looked at the challenges today’s businesses face of maximizing employee contribution and actively retaining those performing highly. The presenters from Towers Perrin-ISR, a consultancy wellknown for its opinion surveys, explained the “engagement gap” and used case studies to prove the argument that employee engagement affects economic performance. Best practices for attracting, retaining and engaging employees were shown before looking at how a local organization: CYTA, used its Employee Opinion Survey to drive the business forward.

The concurrent sessions were followed by Dr. Pieter Haen’s presentation of Present Research & Future Projects of the European Association of Personnel Management. Dr. Haen, who is the Vice-President of the Association presented the first European HR Award launched to coincide with the 2009 EAPM Conference themed "People, Planet,Profit" The CyHRMA was among the first national Associations to register for participation in the Award and will be awarding the Cyprus winner of the competition in February 2009.

The first day of the conference ended with the CyHRMA Excellence in HRM Award ceremony where Mr. Yiannakis Hadjidemetriou, of the Union of Municipalities of Cyprus was awarded with the prize for his work in developing a unified grading structure within all Municipalities across the Republic of Cyprus. Mrs. Kiki Kalli and Mrs. Vicky Charalambous, of British American Tobacco, received a Commendment/ Special Mention for their work on the company’s Outplacement Project. The winners were presented with an award certificate by the Association’s Chairman and Mr. Michalis Antoniou, representing the Employers’ Federation, who also provided a financial award of €850 to the winner.

Photos from the 1st day of the Conference:

The 2nd day of the Conference started with a very interesting presentation by Professor Linda Holbeche, Research Director of Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD). Mrs Holbeche talked about CIPD’s research and policy of building a credible body of knowledge, demonstrating that people management drives competitive advantage, workplace practice improvements and increases the ability to influence policy makers and have an impact on public policy affecting work, people management and development. The presenter went into considerable detail on what leadership, HR and line management practices are best practice for creating sustainable high performing organizations.

This was followed by a presentation by Professor Wolfgang Mayrhofer, of Wirtschauftsuniversitat, Vienna on career trends. The topic titled “Up, up and away” dealt with the career drivers of people in a changing external and psychological career landscape and how understanding these drivers is essential for current Human Resource Management.

The rest of the morning was split into 2 consecutive concurrent sessions of 4 choices each time. The first session comprised of the following topics:
'The Strategic role of HRM' with presentations by Dr. Astrid Reichel and Professor Wolfganga Mayrhofer of Wirtschauftsuniversitat, Vienna on 'HRM and Firm Performance' and 'When and What HRM can contribute and by Dr. Irene Nikandrou and Dr. Leda Panayotopoulou, Lecturers of Athens University of Economics & Business on Human Resource Management: HR and Line Managers’ Perceptions. The first two talked about the impact of HRM on performance explaining that HR scholars are united in their belief that HRM can influence company performance but differ in their approach. They ended their session with empirical evidence on perception and time and by offering a set of questions to HR practitioners as food for thought.

The latter two presented a recent study on line management perceptions of HRM concluding that HR has a predominantly administrative role and with a moderate satisfaction with HR. It was suggested that HR should increase its flexibility by adopting Employee Champion and Change Agent roles.

Flexibility and Work-Life Balance comprising of 2 presentations again, that of Professor Michael Morley, Head of the Department of Management & Marketing of the University of Limerick who talked about “Living to Work, Working to Live:Policy and Practice Dilemmas in the Work-Life Dyad” and Mrs Christiana Ierodiakonou, Research Associate of the University of Cyprus who presented “Becoming a Women-friendly, Flexibility-friendly Organisation”. Mrs Ierodiakonou talked about the Channels of Access project which studied a number of unemployed women and 24 companies in Cyprus to find out about the factors that influence
the adoption of flexible work arrangements.

'Retaining valued employees' dealt with retaining older workers and diversity management. Mr. Hans van Dijk (Researcher at Vlerick Leuven Ghent Management School, Belgium) presented a study looking at retirement age determinants and the perceived effectiveness of HR measures in retaining older workers. The study concluded that there are large differences in career-ending needs and preferences between older workers and HR departments should tailor their retention measures to the individual needs and preferences. The implications of these differences are that job involvement should be raised to understand individual personal situations, job content, work context and perceived appreciation. Also, training should be provided and businesses are urged to challenge retirement habits by being open and transparent.

Dr. Andrej Kohont (Researcher at the University of Ljubljana) talked about the good workplaces which enable performance by allowing diversity. When people feel different they become creative. Advice provided on managing diversity at the individual level included informing/”teaching” line management and co-workers, having empathy, creating support groups and cross-cultural teams, providing mentors and work-life balance programmes and organizing events of diversity presentations.

Training and Development for Leadership – “Leadership conversations – the DNA of High Performing companies” was presented by Mr. Andrew Armes who reflected with participants that relationships are made up of conversations. In this context he argued that leadership conversations in companies need to take place because they accelerate and improve relationships. He went into great detail giving tips on how difficult conversations could be dealt with to align promises and actions with personal intentions and beliefs, and managing conversations to create value for all involved rather than manipulating them for personal gain at the expense of the other person.

The second set of concurrent sessions that followed dealt with the following topics:
Learning Lessons in HRM from Eastern Europe “Key trends and tendencies in external consultant involvement in HRM– Eastern European perspectives” by Professor Joszef Poor of the University of Pecs, Hungary, explored the economic growth in Eastern and the levels and evolution of consultant intervention in HRM. Outsourcing is a hot topic and consulting services including HR consulting are used a lot more than in the US or Western Europe, due to traditional lack of people management and training. The presentation “Implementation of Virtual HRMD Library for Training and Development of HR Consultants in TechnoLogica” by Professor Elizabeta Vatchkova of International University and Assistant Professor Galina Ivanova of the University of Rousse, both of Bulgaria, was about the rise in virtual HRM training in Bulgaria today. This is due to the labour force deficit and the need to learn “on the move” which led to creating a virtual library.

'Employees as Internal Customers and the Role of HRM' by Professor V. Lale Tuzuner and Dr. Cenk A. Yuksel of Instanbul University looked at the relation between Marketing and HR where employees are becoming central to the process of brand building of workplaces. The presentation focused on segmenting potential employees according to firms’ employer attractiveness dimensions in the Employer Branding concept.

In 'The Strategic Role of HRM - Part 2' the presentation on “How to configure HRM for Performance?” by Professor Erik Poutsma and Dr. Paul Ligthart dealt with the effectiveness of HR practices and how to choose combinations and patterns of such practices. Some interesting examples to avoid deadly combinations were presented e.g. promoting teamwork while at the same time adopting performance related pay based on individual targets. Whereas powerful combinations come about when ALL HR practices are highly adapted for all employee categories.

'The Leader Manager – A matter of Essence and Form' by Dr. George Mandes, Managing Director of Team Management Consultants was a presentation on the theory of leading from within, discovering the essence of leadership and using it to create work fulfillment, necessary for sustainable growth.

During lunch, Dr. John Kalogerakis of JMK Ltd was a Guest Speaker, speaking on “People Centric Management”, a very touching presentation which explained how people who make things happen are people-centric/humane and have ethos, pathos (passion) and filotimo (love honour, employeeship, professionalism). Employees need brains and soul, and managers must create the environment where employees can motivate themselves. It was
a presentation packed with positive thinking and animated advice for today’s professionals.

After the 2nd day’s lunch, Dr. Eleni Stavrou-Costea, the Cyprus CRANET Representative and Professor Cem Tanova representing the Turkish-Cypriot community in CRANET presented the 2008 CRANET Research findings for the Cyprus labour market. They showed us that the main market is growing, however Cyprus has still got a long way to go in terms of HR practices.

The main focus of the afternoon was The Deloitte Spotlight Master Session which was a discussion between panelists consisting of distinguished Directors from Cypriot organizations and coordinated by Mr. George Pantelides, Head of Human Capital Services of Deloitte & Touche Ltd. The panel discussed their experiences of HR practices in their organizations and their expectations from HR and they interacted with the audience, answering to questions.

The conference ended with a closing address by a Special Guest Speaker, her Excellency Mrs. Sotiroula Charalambous, ex-Minister of Labour and Social Insurance.