I wanted to return to my first job as a lawyer while also doing HR management and strategy consulting, which is rather rare in terms of combination of services.
Our DNA is to provide HR expertise with an international dimension that complements the knowledge of HR teams, without playing with the international jargon of big consulting firms.
Tell us about the creation of HR Bridge Consulting?
I created HR Bridge Consulting in December 2017 after having previously worked in numerous salaried positions in France and the UK. At that time, I had a 20-year career behind me in labour law and human resources in several business sectors, with HR management responsibilities for both small and large companies.
I wanted to create an offer that could bring my experience to companies facing the same challenges as those I had encountered. I wanted to return to my first job as a lawyer while also doing HR management and strategy consulting, which is rather rare in terms of combination of services.
The independence of the consulting profession was the basis I needed to offer real added value to my corporate clients.
Then I built a close relationship with consultants and professionals in human resources, management and project management. We support each other according to our clients' needs and offer a range of polymath services at a lower cost than that offered by large consulting firms. Laurent Marcellin and I are truly complementary with a very strong mutual legal and academic base. Laurent brings a very strong additional experience in marketing, sales, organisation, industrial processes and management.
Why did you choose the name HR Bridge Consulting?
The name came to me spontaneously because I really wanted to offer an HR service that meets the cross-border needs between the UK and the continent. The bridge really is the added value that we bring to our clients: the creation of bridges between HR teams from several sites or countries at the same time and the creation of strategic and technical bridges between HR and the partners and clients in the company.
At HR Bridge Consulting, we help HR teams to flourish as a specialist function in the face of the international and multi-regulatory challenges of growing or transforming companies. We put HR at the heart of strategic decision making and create sustainable and essential bridges when decisions become complex during transformation projects, crises, acquisitions or other crucial changes.
What is the added value of HR Bridge Consulting for your clients?
Our added value at HR Bridge Consulting is to be able to act as a link between HR and the usual partners, whether internal or external. All too often HR are experts with a cap that is often very much labour law in France or just "good practice" in the UK. They sometimes find it difficult to work with lawyers, especially when there are several regulations to coordinate, where they often feel intimidated by strategy consultants or financiers working with operational teams on transformation projects.
We help HR teams find their best place at the decision-making table with CFOs, operations, sales teams, so that the company's strategy incorporates employer values and that talent and people are properly taken into account.
Finally, we are truly experts in the field of HR and international consulting. We help our clients to work abroad without ever assuming that human resources are uniform everywhere, in their practice, cultural values and regulations.
What's your DNA?
Our DNA at HR Bridge Consulting is to be close to our clients. We are people who offer a local service where trust and relationships are key. We build long term relationships with our clients and we do our utmost to integrate ourselves as closely as possible into their corporate culture. We seek to understand their paradigm and to help them in their internal and external relations, in day-to-day business or in project mode.
Our DNA is to provide HR expertise with an international dimension that complements the knowledge of HR teams, without playing with the international jargon of big consulting firms. We offer advice that can be applied to several countries at the same time and helps HR teams consolidate their knowledge between offices that are scattered and sometimes lacking in connection and recognition.
Are you more English or French?
This is the question I often ask myself. I am French and I have had British nationality for a few years now. The answer is that we are both. We really have both hats at the same time. That's our strength.
We are able to bring an ambivalent knowledge to our clients which allows them to find sometimes new solutions, outside the usual strategic and technical HR framework.
We work in both French and English. We avoid Frenglish as much as possible, but it has to be said that it is not always facile! Excuse my French!
What are the most common problems you encounter with your clients?
We often encounter a need to recreate a link between HR teams who are isolated in their regions. It is sometimes difficult for a head office to coordinate dispersed HR teams that are more autonomous and disconnected than necessary. Legislation is sometimes misunderstood by the head office and plans at the group level are not well understood in the regions. We help HR teams in their field engagement and coordination despite language and cultural barriers.
Understanding regulatory complexities across multiple countries is something that requires long-term collaboration and mutual education. We help HR teams to better consolidate and share their regulatory knowledge so that it is well used when international projects start. Large American or Asian groups sometimes underestimate regulatory differences in labour law. We help our clients anticipate this so that they do not wait until the last minute of an international project with the additional legal costs and delays that this can cause.
We often realise that our clients have very efficient but under-equipped HR structures in project mode. We help them by providing flexible additional resources and know-how that can be successfully added to their teams.
Thinking about new HR tools or HR Information Systems (HRIS) is often a need that even the largest groups find it difficult to initiate or finalise. It is useful to have external advice on the options that exist on the market and on the process and organisational improvements that could be made on the fringes of a new HR system.
Implementing an HRIS internationally is always more complex, time-consuming and expensive than expected. Again, a parent company in a group can sometimes underestimate the complexity of HR practices in other countries and implement an expensive HRIS with poorly evaluated specifications.
We help our clients save time and money during those projects by building the appropriate bridges between the teams involved and the decision makers.
How do you see the future of human resources in the near future after Covid-19?
The Covid-19 crisis is a terrible force for change. It creates a blast across the entire social, economic and societal spectrum.
The crisis is transforming the way of working at the office or remotely from home. The impact is multiple, both in space and time. The return to work in the office will be difficult, with a high risk of discrimination and laborious social dialogue.
The most serious dimension is the economic impact which, after the cover by the States through furlough schemes throughout Europe in the summer of 2019, will turn into numerous job losses. The risk of a crisis induced by mass unemployment, which seems inevitable for the second half of 2020, is likely to be extremely disruptive for both employees and employers.
Human resources will have to adapt by being pragmatic about new, evolving and polymorphic work organisations. Social dialogue will perhaps become more flexible on these subjects, as is already the case with work from home. But at the same time, there is a risk that social dialogue will become more tense in companies which will have to transform themselves and reduce jobs.
HR teams will be under pressure for many months with difficult decisions to implement and problems of communication and long-term commitment.
Change management will be ubiquitous for HR and management teams. They will really have to make it their daily business for months or even years.
Managerial skills will be put to the test and HR teams will have to support their internal clients. Teamwork between HR and operational teams will require good cohesion and vigilance in maintaining trust as a support function.
Uncertainty will need to be compensated for by stronger leadership and well-articulated strategies that are clearly shared with employees.
The Covid-19 crisis will be a revealing agent for many companies regarding their raison d'être, their brand values, their employer brand and their professionalism as responsible social players.
HR Bridge Consulting Ltd is a member of the French Chamber of Great Britain