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HR Change Manager

Project example :

"Interim HR Change Manager"

Interim HR Change Manager in the Context of a Merger

The client was a company located at the Berlin airports. It is owner-operated and has medium-sized structures. The range of services includes acting as a handling agent for airlines, VIP passenger support, operating a lounge, and providing business consulting with process management, with a focus on aviation. Having previously worked for various clients at the Berlin airports, I was recommended to the shareholder as a consultant and Interim HR Change Manager from the market.

Project »Interim HR Change Manager«

The competitive environment in the aviation sector is becoming increasingly challenging due to intense competition between airlines. Some companies have reduced their market presence. The shareholder seized this opportunity for change and, over several years, acquired various majority stakes in different companies. Each company had its own HR management, sometimes provided by the tax advisor or outsourced to different service providers. Some companies were bound by collective agreements and subject to the co-determination of works councils. Managing the different companies consumed significant resources in support. Therefore, several companies were merged through a merger.

My tasks in HR Change Management for this transformation were:

  • Conceptualization of the merger of companies

  • Preparation for operational changes

  • Collective employment conditions: Harmonization of working conditions

  • Adjustment and revision of works agreements

  • Development of templates in the field of individual labor law

  • Collaboration with works councils

  • Workshops on the change process

Project Progress:

The shareholder appointed me as Interim HR Change Manager to oversee the personnel aspects of the merger. A challenge in designing the various changes was that, for various reasons, the employer's measures constituted a business transformation under § 111 BetrVG. This meant that the shareholder would have had to conduct reconciliation of interests and social plan negotiations with the works council. And the timeline was tight. Therefore, I developed a concept for the shareholder where business changes would occur as late as possible. The client founded a new company for this purpose and transferred non-critical employee groups to the new entity. In the next step, we solidified the employment conditions in the new company. Since no works council had been established yet, the shareholder could act quickly and dictate the conditions.

» As an Interim HR Change Manager, I saw myself in the role of a process companion, providing external input, and then offering support with methodical knowledge. «

Lars Schott, HR Manager
HR Change Manager Berlin

Accompanying the Interim HR Change Manager, I actively sought contact with the works councils. We shared the understanding that the newly founded company was not subject to the works council's co-determination. Even though there was no co-determination right, I informed the works councils and coordinated upcoming measures.

Building HR Management

Another focal point of my consultancy was establishing HR management for the new company. While the client had a professionally operating HR management, it was spread across different companies. As an Interim HR Change Manager, the goal was to bring together existing knowledge and, more importantly, the HR colleagues on a personal level. It was crucial to assess individual needs. In my role as a coach, I shared my knowledge with a younger HR colleague who was technically proficient but lacked leadership experience, preparing her for new responsibilities. The collaboration also involved supporting reporting and determining which metrics to track. Additionally, I collaborated with the shareholder to reflect on areas where collaboration between Human Resources and various stakeholders could be enhanced.

Adjusting HR Processes

Together with the new HR colleagues, we reviewed HR processes and made adjustments. My consulting approach was not to dictate how HR management functions, as the HR team already comprised the best experts for the company. They knew which processes were effective and where adjustments were needed. I saw myself more as a process companion, providing external input and supporting with methodological knowledge.

Employment Law Expertise

The client sought continued support in employment law matters during the merger. The challenge arose from employees being transferred from different companies with varying employment conditions in their contracts. In certain employee groups, employment contracts had to be renegotiated. The goal was not to offer a "best-of" employment conditions from different companies but rather to introduce new contracts with modified employment conditions. While these new contracts had disadvantages in some areas, they also brought several advantages. As an Interim HR Change Manager, my task was to communicate these differences honestly and encourage employees to embrace the new employment contracts.

Addressing High Sick Leave

The shareholder faced a high sick leave rate in certain departments, influenced by both the age of employees and the nature of their tasks. Additionally, the employer had been negligent in the area of occupational reintegration management. As part of the change management measures, I revamped the occupational reintegration process for the client. I ensured that the invitation letter met the requirements of labor courts. The aim was not to exert additional pressure on sick employees but to signal the employer's interest in the workforce and inquire about the high sick leave.

Handling Disabilities

In various companies, there were disabled employees with the expectation that the employer would redesign workplaces considering their disabilities. However, this did not occur, and the approach aligned with the jurisprudence of labor courts. Legally, there is no entitlement to have a workplace designed to accommodate disabilities. Instead, the employer must support disabled employees in fulfilling their existing job roles.

Incapacity for Work and Early Retirement

Several employees could no longer work due to illness—on paper. However, they faced the issue of being poorly insured and continued working due to financial pressure. For these colleagues, we collaborated with a pension consultant. She advised employees on options for retirement and clarified open questions with the German Pension Insurance. The employer covered the costs within an agreed budget. The consultation was guided by the interests of disabled employees, and the employer did not receive feedback on the content. This measure led to some employees being retired, accepting the termination of their employment contracts with a moderate severance sum.

Throughout all measures involving disabled employees, strong contact was sought with the Integration Office. Parallel conversations were conducted in some cases, establishing a good trust relationship with the counselor.

The Outcome

The HR Change Management project ran for nearly six months. After this period of change, I could confidently hand over all tasks to the on-site HR team. While the complete integration of the merger was not finalized at this point, the HR department was well-positioned.

Further information:

  • My Services: HR Restructuring & Change Management

  • My Services: HR Management

  • My Services: Labour Relations

  • Project Example: HR Manager Downsizing in the Automotive Sector

  • Project Example: Manager Labor Law

  • Project Example: Consultant for Company Transitions

  • Project Example: Head of HR with a Focus on Merger & Acquisition

  • Project Example: HR Consultant for Company Transitions

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