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.

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.

Speech by the Chairperson

“Welcome to this year’s premier Human Resource Management event: The Annual HR Conference titled “Global Insights in People Management”.

This year I gave a lot of thought as to the theme that I was going to refer to in my opening address. After careful consideration it seemed that the most serious and recent development has been the Boston Consulting Group and World Federation of Personnel Management Associations study regarding “The Ways to Address the HR Challenges Worldwide through 2015”.

The importance of this survey lies in the fact that it provides us with a comprehensive view of HR practices and concerns in the world today. The survey conducted in 83 different countries and markets, presents the views of more that 4700 executives on 17 topics in Human Resource Management and a total of 194 specific action steps associated with those topics.

Managing talent was the topic at or very near the top of the agenda at every region and every industry in the world. The second most important topic was improving the leadership development in organizations and the third managing work life balance. In different regions HR executives tended to have different priorities. In Europe, managing talent and management of demographics emerged as the most important key challenges.

As if these challenges were not enough, HR executives still need to gain the trust of senior executives by exhibiting very high performance in restructuring their organizations, delivering in recruiting and staffing and mastering all the HR processes.

Our Conference will touch upon all three of the most important topics of concern that the HR Executives have identified.

For the last few years, from this podium and from other forums we have been stressing the fact that HR needs to be viewed as a strategy partner and that it has proved its value within the organization by using metrics and by aligning people issues with the strategic objectives of the organization. We will once more stress the fact that successful organizations are those that place great emphasis on people issues thus gaining a competitive advantage. We have always said that Cyprus is showing a constant progress in the area of Human Resource Management. We have witnessed over the years the growing importance of HR in Cypriot organizations but we need to say there is still a long way to go so that we can make sure that we take advantage of all the capabilities, skills, and experiences of the Cypriot labour market.

This Year’s Conference is a special one: We are proud to host and co-organize the event with the CRANET Network. This is a big chance for everybody to share the wealth of knowledge that the members of the network will present to us in the next two days. Most importantly we will have the chance to experience the comparative data on HR practices that the members of the network are going to present. Additionally we shall be able to compare Cyprus with the rest of the world on HR issues.

We believe that our collective experience in organizing Human Resource Conferences for the last nine years is the guarantee of the success of this year’s Conference. Our aim in preparing this year’s programme has been to bring to you and to discuss the latest trends and innovations in our field and to touch upon issues that concern Human Resource Professionals in Cyprus.

We have two main plenary sessions: The central theme for both plenary sessions is the “State of Human Resource Management in small and medium sized enterprises in Cyprus”: An important topic considering the fact that they are somewhere close to 98% of all organizations in Cyprus. At the first session you will experience Human Resource and Management Practices in SMEs. At the second plenary session, the Master Session, which is sponsored by Deloitte and takes place on the second day, business owners and managers will bring their own perspective regarding the importance of HR in their companies.

I would like to specifically mention our two keynote speakers, Professors Chris Brewster and Linda Holbeche. Their addresses are of major importance for us practitioners. The former is an account of the recent Developments in HRM from the Cranet perspective and the latter a presentation of the important work done by the CIPD in the field of research.

With the kind sponsorship of CYTA we also have with us Dr. John Kalogerakis, the prominent speaker, who will present “Anthropocentric People Management for High Performance Companies”.

Other important plenary speakers are Professors Nancy Papalexandris, Phil Benson and Wolfgang Meyerhofer.

This year’s Conference includes the largest number of parallel sessions we have had over the years. During these sessions there are themes for everybody, ranging from strategic leadership, productivity, work and life balance, the issue of older workers, leadership, training and development and many others.

Additionally, we have with us Peter Haen, the Vice President of EAPM, who will tell us about the latest developments in the European Association of Personnel Management including the next EAPM Conference to be organized in The Hague in 2009.

Under the coordination of the Secretary of the Association, we will also present to you the CyHRMA Excellence in HRM Award Winner for 2008 sponsored by OEB. This year we had the largest number of contestants in what proved to be a highly regarded concept.

As always you will experience all these themes in a most innovative and interesting way. You have already met our two hosts, the well known HR and Training professionals Dr. Mantes and Mrs. Stefanou who will keep you on your toes for the next two days and they will make sure that you will be part of the show whatever the cost!

At this point I would like to thank first of all the Members of the Board of the Association for all their support and help in making this Conference a reality. Foremost though, congratulations should go to the members of the Organizing Committee who worked really hard offering their free time for the success of this event. The Organizing Committee is comprised of professionals from the Association, the Employers’ Federation, the University of Cyprus, the CRANET Cyprus Team, the Promotion Agents and our own Administrative Officer. From this Group, I would have to single out Evgenia Papadopoulou who has been behind the organizing effort and has handled a lot of difficult and time consuming issues. She has definitely put a lot of hours of hard work to make today’s event a reality.

Assisting the Organizing Committee were also the session coordinators who helped organize the presentations and the speakers. Thanks to all of you and to all the speakers who are sharing their knowledge and experiences with us today and tomorrow. You are the soul of the Conference.

Again this year we have the mega sponsorship of Deloitte and for that I would like to thank the Partner Mr Nicos Papakyriacou and the HR Manager Mr George Pantelides.

Of course our main supporters are with us again this year and for that I would like to thank first the General Manager of the Cyprus Productivity Centre, the Rector and the HR Manager of the University of Cyprus and the General Manager of OEB for the cooperation and trust. For the first time this year we also have the important support of the newly formed Technological University of Cyprus and for that we thank the top management of the University and the Representative Director of Administration and Finance.

At this point I would like to make an exception and specifically thank the Management of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development for their unconditional help and support for our Annual Conference and other Association activities.

We are also grateful to the main sponsors, the sponsors, the supporters, the media sponsor and the official carrier for making our dream a reality. And thanks to all of you and your sponsoring companies for being here today. I am sure that you will enjoy this experience.

One last thought from me: We need to remember to work hard and we still need to always demonstrate the importance of Human Resource Management and our contribution to the success of our organizations.

Thank you”.