“A very stimulating collaboration”

Hudson and Vlerick delve into strategic reward and talent management together

“By now, we know each other well and know what we can do together. However, we are also just grateful that we can continue our work in this way.” Hudson and Vlerick’s collaboration has already lasted nearly 20 years. Following their renewed Chair Partnership, we spoke to Xavier Baeten, Professor of Reward & Sustainability, and Dirk Buyens and Koen Dewettinck, both HRM Professors at Vlerick.

Hudson recently renewed its Chair Partnership with Vlerick. What does that mean for you?

Xavier Baeten: “This partnership is crucial for us at Vlerick's Centre for Excellence in Strategic Rewards. We are very grateful to Hudson for its continued trust and the essential funds that it provides. But of course, it goes much further than that. Thanks to Hudson's very diverse client base, we have access to a broad HR population, and that too is essential for scientific research. Then there is also the intellectual part. In both our team and in Hudson’s, there are some very bright minds making valuable contributions to our research.”

Koen Dewettinck and Dirk Buyens: “That’s right, and there is also an intense collaboration in the Centre for Excellence in Strategic Talent Management with everyone encouraging each other to look for innovation and to keep taking steps forward.”

Xavier Baeten: “We are very grateful to Hudson for its continued trust and the essential funds that it provides.”

Looking back on recent years, what were the high points?

Dirk Buyens: “An absolute highlight for me was our three-day trip to the New World of Work in Dublin, where we visited top companies such as Google and Microsoft to see how they deal with talent management. We really got the feeling there that we are writing history together.”

Koen Dewettinck: “If I have to pick one, it would be the speed dating that we did with our members. In just half a day, we met 12 to 15 providers of HR apps for performance management, onboarding, and well-being. It was both efficient and interesting.”

Xavier Baeten: “I find the white paper ‘Future House of Rewards’ and the accompanying conference an excellent example of our fruitful collaboration. The starting point was: 55-year-old employees (executives and lower-level managers) earn on average 45% more than their 30-year-old colleagues in similar positions. This is not only a fundamental injustice but also a problem in the current context where people are working longer and longer. When you consider what impact 'Future House of Rewards' has had (and still has), not only in HR circles but also in the political world, we can only be proud. The white paper was not an end point, but did become a starting point.”

Koen Dewettinck: “It is an intense collaboration with everyone encouraging each other to look for innovation and to keep taking steps forward.”

What research topics will you be working on in the coming years?

Xavier Baeten: “Within our Centre for Excellence in Strategic Rewards, we will continue with the topic we discussed in the white paper that I mentioned just now. We are going to set up two projects for further exploration: firstly, we will conduct a large-scale survey among employees at the end of this year; and secondly, we will look for good case studies. In addition, we have defined four new topics: reward communication, performance-based reward, collective reward, and agility.”

Koen Dewettinck: “At the Centre for Excellence in Strategic Talent Management, we will mainly work on the increasing pressure to focus more on the individual and the possibilities afforded by technology. In the past, technology was mainly used within HR to do things faster, but now it also helps to do things better. The possibilities are enormous. For example, gamification can help with onboarding to integrate new employees faster. The ‘design thinking’ of artificial intelligence can also have a fundamental impact on HR in the coming years.”

Dirk Buyens: "The HR Barometer has now become a permanent added-value in our research. Time and again, it yields plenty of visibility, not only within the HR community but also in the national media. After all, measuring will always be the key to knowledge. We will use the survey’s latest edition to interview the HR managers of the 500 largest companies in our country. With a limited number of questions, we will get to the heart of their activities. Hudson’s input and our academic approach will help us to keep gaining more thought leadership.”

Dirk Buyens: “We structure and facilitate; Hudson has both feet firmly set in day-to-day practice, and collectively we come out stronger.”

Finally, what do you most appreciate about your collaboration with Hudson?

Xavier Baeten: “The fact that it is a long-term collaboration, with great respect for academic freedom and each other's valuable inputs.”

Koen Dewettinck: “Because of the many opportunities to align with each other, we can react quickly and efficiently so that Vlerick can give Hudson a boost in the background.”

Dirk Buyens: “That's true, the pragmatic approach goes way beyond the academic part. We structure and facilitate; Hudson has both feet firmly set in day-to-day practice, and collectively we come out stronger.”

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