SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

October 30, 2013 00:01 ET

Translating People Management Excellence Into Concrete Actions

New Research Identifies Key HR Practices of High-Performing European Companies; A Report by The Boston Consulting Group and the European Association for People Management Gives Specific Guidance to Companies Seeking to Gain an Edge in People Management

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Oct 30, 2013) -  Companies throughout Europe know that they need to improve their people management capabilities if they are to succeed in a business environment marked by economic uncertainty and talent shortages. Yet they often struggle to translate these HR aspirations into specific actions. A new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the European Association for People Management (EAPM), gives clear, quantitatively derived guidance to companies on how to strengthen their people-management skills.

The report, Creating People Advantage 2013: Lifting HR Practices to the Next Level, is the seventh in an annual series examining critical trends in managing people. This year's research drew survey responses from more than 2,300 executives across a broad range of industries in 34 countries throughout Europe. The author team supplemented those findings by conducting in-depth interviews with 37 HR leaders. The authors analyzed people management capabilities among the survey population, focusing on ten key areas and the efficiency of companies' efforts to improve.

Identifying Root Causes of Success
"Company leaders understand the need to enhance their capabilities in key people-management areas, but they don't have a playbook that says where to start or which measures should be priorities," said Rainer Strack, a senior partner at BCG and a coauthor of the report. "Our goal this year was to provide a set of differentiating activities -- the most effective drivers of success across ten HR areas."

The empirical nature of the findings distinguishes this report from much of the current thinking regarding people management. "We broke the survey population down into highly capable and low-capability companies and isolated the activities that separate them," said Jean-Michel Caye, a senior partner at BCG and a coauthor. "That allowed us to build our argument on data instead of intuition or anecdotes."

In the area of talent management and leadership, for example, the research results indicate that highly capable companies have several activities in common, such as strategically planning their talent and leadership needs on a long-term (more than five-year) basis, rather than reacting only to the most pressing needs.

Similarly, in the area of HR analytics, the survey results show that highly capable companies have a workforce demand model in place that is linked to driving, for example, business strategy, productivity, and technology. This way these companies can accurately predict the job profiles they'll need to execute their strategy, by business unit, location, and critical skills needed. 

In the area of recruiting, best-in-class companies excel in having an employer value proposition that is systematically developed on the basis of a thorough analysis. A further key differentiator between highly capable and low-capability companies is a clearly defined and integrated social-media strategy.

"For companies seeking to improve their performance in talent management and leadership, as well as the other examined key HR topics, these measures should be considered high priorities," said Filippo Abramo, president of the EAPM and a coauthor of the study.

Other areas analyzed in the report include:

  • Engagement, behavior, and culture management
  • Performance management and rewards
  • HR target operating model
  • Training and people development
  • Diversity and generation management
  • Labor costs, flexibility, and restructuring

Real-World Examples
Rounding out these findings is a set of in-depth case studies that illustrate strong HR performance. "The case studies show what people management excellence looks like in the real world, across a range of industries," said Pieter Haen, president of the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) and former president of the EAPM.

Through this combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis, the report sheds much-needed light on a topic that will be critical for the continuing and future success of European companies.

Lifting HR Practices to the Next Level is part of the Creating People Advantage series that BCG has published annually since 2007, together with the EAPM and the WFPMA.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at or at

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 78 offices in 43 countries. For more information, please visit

About the European Association for People Management
The European Association for People Management (EAPM) was founded in 1962 by the national associations and professional institutions of personnel management in France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Today, the nonprofit umbrella association, with 29 national member associations throughout Europe, represents professionals specializing in people management. EAPM operates independently of employers, trade unions, governments, and political bodies. Its objectives are to promote and develop knowledge and experience in the HR field, specifically knowledge of people issues and people activities, and to demonstrate the importance of these topics to both the public and private sectors. For more information, please visit

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Contact Information

  • The Boston Consulting Group
    Eric Gregoire
    Global Media Relations Manager

    Tel +1 617 850 3783
    Fax +1 617 850 3701