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Strong team: Beiersdorf, Tchibo, and tesa seek talent together virtually

Virtual Open House Day

Engaging with talent is a daily affair for Anna Buttler, Ricarda Hospach, and Kristina Tams. As HR managers at Beiersdorf, Tchibo, and tesa, they are on the lookout for the best junior employees and seek to get students all around the world excited about their companies. The three HR experts’ bread-and-butter work usually involves career fairs, college events, and in-house events. But in these times of COVID-19 and social distancing rules, they, too, have had to ditch their original plans and explore new avenues. And one of these resulted in the Virtual Open House Day that the three of them jointly realized in September. We spoke to Anna, Ricarda, and Kristina about what was behind the new format and asked them about their personal conclusions and their ideas for the future.

Anna Buttler, Expert Recruiting Interns & Working Students at Beiersdorf
Anna Buttler, Expert Recruiting Interns & Working Students at Beiersdorf

Beiersdorf, Tchibo, and tesa held the first Virtual Open House Day in mid-September. How did this joint event come about? What were your objectives?

Anna (Beiersdorf): Many events could not take place as planned due to the coronavirus, such as the Hamburg Company Tour, an employer branding event which involves various Hamburg businesses opening their doors and showcasing themselves to students. As we still wanted to present ourselves as an attractive employer for talented youngsters in these unusual and uncertain times, we looked around for a suitable alternative. It soon became clear that it would have to assume a virtual format. So we approached Tchibo and tesa with our idea. As Maxingvest subsidiaries, we discuss HR matters together from time to time, and when the idea went down well with everyone, we got down to jointly realizing it.

Kristina (tesa): For us, it was a first test to see how virtual events would go down with our target group. We also wanted to seize the opportunity to show talent that our three companies belong together as part of the same holding company. It was important to us that we give them an insight into our working world in spite of the challenging times and that we show them how digital and modern we are and what cool job opportunities we offer.

What exactly did the Virtual Open House Day involve? What was its content?

Ricarda (Tchibo): We began with a brief presentation of our three companies. This was followed by some of our talented junior employees talking about their successful career paths and offering an insight into their work and the various career entry programs. All the participants additionally had the opportunity to attend various specialist presentations given in virtual rooms or to engage in dialogue with us and ask more questions about the companies and the career opportunities. As a surprise to round off the day, there was a special sofa concert given by the guys from Van Deyk in Hamburg.

Kristina: In all, more than 20 coworkers were involved in the extensive program and made themselves available as speakers. They helped make the event a huge success. Our working student Pia Warnecke moderated the event and led everyone through the program in a highly professional manner. This was very well received by the target group – Pia is, after all, essentially one of them.

Ricarda Hospach, Junior Talent Relations & Acquisition Expert at Tchibo
Ricarda Hospach, Junior Talent Relations & Acquisition Expert at Tchibo

What is your personal conclusion regarding the Virtual Open House Day? What did you learn for the future?

Anna: We are very happy with the outcome! The intercompany collaboration worked very well and our close communication was extremely interesting and valuable. We are able to learn a lot from one another, inspire each other, join forces, and achieve a great deal together. Seeing the bigger picture rather than simply focusing on our respective companies was definitely worthwhile because we can all learn a lot. We also grew as a project team during this time. It really was a great experience!

Ricarda: I absolutely agree with Anna. We worked excellently together, divided up the work well, and all had some huge benefits as takeaways from the event. The feedback from the participants was positive across the board and it was fantastic to see the reach that our three companies can have together.

Ricarda, you just touched upon the participants’ feedback. How many students participated in total and what sort of feedback did you receive?

Ricarda: In all, we had approximately 170 participants from throughout Germany. Their feedback was positive across the board. We received a lot of praise for the content, the atmosphere, and the sofa concert. But most importantly, we really piqued their interest! This was made obvious during the event itself by the many questions posed in the well-frequented HR rooms. Afterwards, too, we received a number of very interesting applications. We have already conducted some job interviews, so the event paid off!

Kristina Tams, HR Manager Recruiting at tesa
Kristina Tams, HR Manager Recruiting at tesa

What’s next in terms of your teamwork? Are there plans to cooperate more closely again in the future?

Anna: Definitely! We are already working on a follow-up event. This time perhaps with “slots” in English for international students and focusing on different departments. Maybe we will even make a series out of it – our collaboration is definitely “to be continued”. It is great how, especially in these times of crisis, we are becoming even closer as sister companies and are trying out and implementing new things across company lines.

Kristina: Our collaboration is a prime example of “New Work” during the crisis. We quickly and flexibly developed a great format that meant we could still reach our target group. We are also using these unusual times to demonstrate both now and in the next few months what a cool employer we are! Together, we are considerably expanding our reach, while also making sure we are visible to talented individuals. This is more important than ever in these times of a “war for talent”!

Do you miss the “old days” when career fairs and in-house events were the order of the day? Do you miss having face-to-face contact with the candidates?

Ricarda: Standing face-to-face with someone at a fair or specialist event and being able to engage with them like that is obviously something very different. But I really have to say that there are some major advantages to digital formats, too! We can reach talent within a much wider catchment area and we are a lot more flexible. The participants don’t have to travel especially, and can instead connect with us from the comfort of their own homes. This saves time and money – and conserves the environment. It goes without saying that COVID-19 is resulting in a lot of restrictions. But in terms of our HR work and recruiting new talent, it is forcing us to come up with new ideas and explore new avenues. This is ultimately also a major opportunity!

Anna: I completely agree! In times of crisis, we have to think flexibly and adapt to the circumstances. We transitioned a large number of our scheduled events to virtual formats in next to no time. The digital OSCAR&PAUL Battle Weeks, Beiersdorf’s first virtual hackathon event aimed at international talent, are a great example of this. Virtual formats make the world a little smaller in spite of vast distances and in some way we are getting closer to one another. We can still communicate face to face by means of video chat. In addition, we have so many interactive opportunities such as social walls, selfie clouds, live polls, and much, much more. For me, the coronavirus is therefore something of a source of inspiration for new approaches, and something which is forcing us to rethink our existing structures and ways of working.

Anna, Ricarda, and Kristina, thank you very much for the interesting chat. We look forward to hearing about the results of your ongoing collaboration!

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Diana Lühmann

About the editor: Diana Lühmann

Since autumn 2019, Diana has been responsible for corporate communication related to HR and inspiring people at Beiersdorf. These include the areas of Diversity, Learning & Development, Career, Leadership, and Health. Previously, she was in charge of R&D Communications and explored the exciting world of our research and development.