Adecco Boss

The Future of Work

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    With work changing faster than ever before, the chief executive of the world’s largest staffing company reflects on the challenges of new modes of work and how education must change.

  • Facts


    • An industrial engineer by training, Alain Dehaze ran workforce giant Adecco’s French operations for 5 years, before being appointed chief executive in 2015.
    • Adecco is the world’s largest staffing company, with annual revenues of €22 billion in 2015, employing 33,000 people across more than 60 countries.
    • Germany and Switzerland have a “dual system” of education, combining practical work with ongoing education.
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Alain Dehaze joined Adecco in 2010. Source: Reuters

If you want to understand the changing world of work, try sitting in Alain Dehaze’s chair for a day.

As the chief executive of Adecco, he oversees the world’s largest workforce company, with a turnover last year of some €22 billion ($23.4 billion). Every day, the Swiss-based company arranges short-term positions for 700,000 people, from factory workers to marketing specialists to IT experts. This gives Mr. Dehaze — who has run the company for just over a year, after joining the firm in 2010 — unique insight into what work is today, and how it can best be matched with a changing education system.

In an interview with Handelsblatt, Mr. Dehaze spoke in praise of the millennial generation, saying they did not shy from work, as some claimed. Instead, they want to be able to better manage work and personal life, and put new emphasis on company values and on the meaningfulness of work, he said. This stance fits well with new looser workforce strategies, he added: “Companies have to recognize the new flexibility, and organize it. The 9-to-5 job where you had to be in the office is a model on its way out.”

All of this presents management with real challenges, he said – it had to learn to trust its employees and recognize the crucial importance of feedback. In addition, executives must understand the central role of values and organizational rituals in keeping the diffuse forms of organization together.

As a company, Adecco had to face these challenges too, he said. It has the advantage of an organization formed of small teams and cells, he added. In addition, there were several key rules: “No more than 60 percent of time done via Smart Working (mobile or home-based work): 40 percent of the time you have to be in the office,” he said. “Work is not just about being efficient – it is about social life too. You need personal contact with colleagues.”

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