The "unternehmensWert:Mensch" (Human resources: a valuable asset) programme seeked to assist small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in devising viable, employee-focussed HR policies. It was based on a tripartite, holistic approach which had been developed as part of the New Quality of Work Initiative. Rather than being geared toward individual measures, this approach aimed to set in motion lasting processes of change in organisational development in central central fields of activity of HR policy that were key to the future viability of business enterprises (HR management, equality of opportunity & diversity, health, skills & knowledge). In collaboration with the competent state ministries, "unternehmensWert:Mensch" complemented programmes and initiatives at state level.
What did the consultation process entail?
The programme included a three-stage, participative consultation process that is specifically aligned with the needs of the participating businesses:
The initial consultation centres (ICC) were the central liaison offices in the programme. They provided initial consultation services and discussed the results of the consultation process with the businesses in a follow-up meeting. In addition, they supported SMEs in the application procedure and accounting, were responsible for PR activities, pointed businesses toward other regional services for SMEs and assisted the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in authorising process consultants.
Stage 1: Initial consultation
The initial consultation was neutral and standardised nationwide. During this stage, the consultant clarifies whether a business was eligible for funding and sited down with the business to identify specific need for change in the enterprise along the four fields of acttivity of HR policy which had been identified in the programme (HR management, equality of opportunity & diversity, health, skills & knowledge). Depending on the needs identified, the ICC could issue a consultation voucher, which included the consultation services and a recommendation for focal points of action, or could refer the business to another regional service.
Stage 2: Process consultation
The consultation voucher allowed businesses and their employees to avail of in-depth process consultation for a maximum of 10 consultation days. The process consultation service was provided directly on-premise by the process consultant(s) authorised for the programme and with the participation of empoyees and their representatives (if existing). It involved an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the business and the development of goals for action and measures. These were then recorded in a binding company action plan. The change processes were then initiated and closely monitored.
Stage 3: Discussion of results
Six months after the process consultation process, the initial consultation centreeluated the measures implemented with the participation of individual employees and their representatives (if existing). At this point the ICC accessed whether additional consultation and advisory services are necessary, and in case, whether the business could be referred to regional support services (e.g. the funds, the chambers, the New Quality of Work Initiative or other initiatives at state level) in oder to further implement individual measures.