Five questions for the Chief People Officer:
A profile of Benjamin Staub Baumgartner

Benjamin Staub Baumgartner, CPO

Benjamin Staub Baumgartner has been with the Zur Rose Group since 2017 and was appointed CPO in May 2022. In this interview he explains why the transformation of the Target Operating Model was the key project in the People area last year (see also Team spirit: employees’ voices), what the biggest challenges were and what he demands of himself and his role.

1. Mr Staub Baumgartner, would you please briefly introduce yourself and your business operating area.

B. S. B. – I spent seven years at the retailer MediaMarktSaturn Switzerland, most recently as Head of Human Resources, before moving to Zur Rose Switzerland in 2017 as Director HR. I wanted to actively co-create the cultural transformation that places employees at the centre. Today, five years later, this has resulted in a Group-wide HR management approach that we have been pursuing at the Zur Rose Group since 2020 and which I am driving forward – first as Director HR and now as CPO.

e-health pioneers

At the Zur Rose Group everyone can be an e-health pioneer, regardless of their location or position, and make a meaningful contribution to society

For my colleagues and I in the People department it’s not just about recruiting talented people, it's also keeping them with us through several stages of their career. The Employee Experience plays a key role in this: our staff should have positive experiences with us and be able to contribute to the company’s success. That’s why we consistently invest in developing skills and ensuring that each and every one of us is able to develop further in our position. This creates a win-win situation for both sides. When it comes to human resources, our focus is not on individual processes but the interaction between them from an employee point of view. That's how we manage to be an “employer of choice” in every respect. Everyone at the Zur Rose Group can be an “e-health pioneers”, regardless of their location or position, and make a meaningful contribution to our society. We have introduced this slogan as the core of our employer brand.

It is also important to me for our HR department to create a solid foundation that supports all of this. Along with indispensable standards such as paying salaries on time, this also implies efficient, digital and professional processes that are mapped on a shared platform.

2. What was your key project in the People area in 2022 for the Zur Rose Group?

“Transforming our Target Operating Model was probably the key project for us in 2022.”

B. S. B. – Transforming our Target Operating Model (TOM) was probably the key project for us in 2022. This involved questioning existing structures, which have often evolved historically and through acquisitions, and realigning them by functional organisations. Following the strong expansion in recent years, since 2022 we have been focused more on profitability and integrating our various companies in the best possible way, leveraging synergies and creating uniform reporting lines for the long term. This allows employees to develop better and contribute their expertise persistently and across all segments, which makes work easier and more efficient for everyone. Economic considerations also play an important role, but they are certainly not the exclusive factor.

TOM provides the basis for many other projects and measures we were able to drive forward in the People area in 2022. For example, we have revised our “employer value proposition”, the core of our employer brand, and set up a talent acquisition strategy including a job referral programme. We have also invested in further developing our employees with Group-wide learning opportunities such as LinkedIn Learning and GoFluent. TOM requires the corporate culture to change – from silo thinking to an agile and consensus-driven approach. With #OurJourney we have created a tool that serves as a framework for performance reviews and offers continuity to both sides – supervisors and teams. Last but not least, there is a need for a Group-wide digital solution for shared data and processes. We were able to successfully introduce this, too.

3. What were the biggest challenges in implementation?

B. S. B. – Because of the focus on growth and the associated acquisitions, the Zur Rose Group used to use different tools depending on segment and location. The various corporate cultures also differ. If we now want to introduce a new approach for the entire Group, this is a major change. Employee perceptions can be quite negative in the first instance. I see it as one of the tasks of the HR department to combat this and highlight the positive aspects: agile working, flat hierarchies and so much more. At the same time, it is important to me to always be empathetic and accessible – especially when it comes to implementing drastic measures. Parallel to this shift in mindset, we also had to develop the processes mentioned. I would say that these were – and are – the biggest hurdles.

4. What is particularly important to you personally in your work and as Chief People Officer?

“For me, one thing is certain: dealing with people determines whether you are successful in the long term – as an HR department and not least as a company.”

B. S. B. – I measure my personal success as Chief People Officer – besides other elements – by the fact that employees approach me directly, regardless of the issue. This shows me that our people approach – our doors being always open to everyone – is actually being put into practice. We must not make the mistake of reducing our colleagues merely to their labour. We need to bear in mind that they are human beings, some of whom face challenges in their private lives or have to deal with personal issues. It is very important to me that we, as an employer, support them actively if possible. Apart from that, it always takes the necessary empathy and the ability to see things from someone else's perspective to be accepted as a People department. For me, one thing is certain: dealing with people determines whether you are successful in the long term – as an HR department and not least as a company.

5. What is on the agenda for you as the CPO of the Zur Rose Group in 2023?

B. S. B. – There are already quite a few things planned for 2023. We want to further advance the digital integration of People work so as to simplify processes and make them more efficient. Our benchmark is to be positively perceived by our employees in their day-to-day work with us. #OurJourney should be established as a shared experience for all, across the Group. Ultimately, my main concern is that the People department should be seen as a go-to department, with doors always open to everyone.

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