Human Resources is about resources. But first word is Human. Let’s not forget that in an increasing divided and troubled Europe. So, what has this to do with HR? I will argue: A lot.  And by focusing on opportunities, we have a great future. Which should give some comfort with Christmas and 2024 approaching. We can make a difference. 

My tenure as president of the EAPM will be over at the end of this year. Looking back, three years seem like an eternity. A lot has happened, but in a longer perspective we could and should have forseen a lot of what has happened. But it has been spurred, accelerated and actualized.    

“War for talent” has been a phrase we have all used since long time ago. Real wars and conflicts supported by Russia and others directly involved, have been ongoing. In parallel, need for green shift has been addressed and largely ignored. The refugee crisis was already massive and increasing.  Prior opportunities for finding lasting solutions to conflicts in the middle east had for a long period been sabotaged. China’s new role is dominant and with perceived dubious intentions. New coalitions are building up, in parallel with the USA struggling in maintaining their role as moral and not only military leader of the west. It is a toxic mixture of risk factors, driving de-globalization with direct consequences for welfare and workplaces

Decrease in buying power and lack of social security created social unrest, and paved the ground for hostility, racism and leaders who built their platform on polarization and easy solutions to complex issues. Just like their predecessors have done before, but in Europe in a scale and scope we have not seen for decades.  

Then Covid came. Ukraine was brutally attacked. Lately Hamas terror struck Israel, which triggered disproportionate response, killing ten thousands of innocent children, women and men at Gaza. The whole region is vibrating, and what has been built of trust has been demolished. The heat is on, and we can all expect to be burnt.  

“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”, Guterres rightly stated. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”, is the wisdom from Gandhi. And “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”, Einstein told us. Still we are here, in what seems to be an ever-ongoing knowing-doing gap.  

I fully understand those individuals who turn frustration and lack of hope into actions. Refugees from Syria, Brexit voters believing UK would be more prosperous alone, workers in Turkie who struggle with 70% inflation, gilets jaunes/yellow vests in Paris who take to the streets and youngsters in Spain faced by a 28% youth unemployment rate. Or those who emigrate to what seems to be more prosperous countries within Europe, causing brain drain and problems in their home countries. Many have lost trust in institutions, companies and society as a whole, and by that belief in future.   

“I see what you say”, a wise person once said. Actions still speak louder that words.  It is about how we show trust, as we did during and after covid. I strongly believe that HR can and must do a difference, far beyond short-sighted business KPI’s or single-minded “people first” perspective. Yes, we are a business function and should act accordingly. “The worst crime against working people is a company that fails to operate at a profit”, as Samuel Gompers, by many regarded as “father” of the labour movement in the US, once said. It is unsustainable to approach profit objectives without a sustainable people-perspective, strong employee relations, fair sharing of value created, inclusion and investments in employability for your most valuable asset. Leadership without reciprocity and mutual trust, without rigid control systems and bureaucratic plaque, will not succeed. Companies must take their share of upskilling, reskilling and inclusion. Those that are unwilling to pay taxes, provide good lives for current and future employees, their families and customers end up damaging their employer brand. Ultimately they might find their place in the graveyard. They leave their talent liberated and fertilise growth for companies and workplaces with more to offer. “Survival of those most adaptable to change” and the force of “creative distruction”, as Darwin and Schumpeter put it. 

At the centre of all of this is people. “People mean business”, as our British member CIPD phrased as slogan, some years ago. “… And create good societies and good workplaces”. I would like to add. 

EAPM President
EAPM President

I am at the end of my tenure as EAPM president. All the way, in every debate, speech or meeting, I have used every opportunity to champion a trust based, sharing culture within the EAPM as well as for HR and working life in general. Culture is built from within, and what employees experience at the workplace will be passed on to next generation through dialogues at the kitchen table. It will also set the tone of voice in discussions between colleagues, friends and the public debate. That makes HR so much bigger that ourselves, and our work so much more interesting and meaningful than just “doing” HR.  

Looking ahead, we see massive changes coming. AI is a huge opportunity and game changer. Talent scarcity and global turmoil will have consequences for everything from global trade till way we work and organize. All changes have the potential to hurt and leave deep wounds, but history tells us that such changes in the longer run will improve our lives and solve challenges which today might seem insurmountable. If we are to reap the full benefits, we need to bring people in position to succeed.  We as HR, must be advocates, gardeners and guardians of trust and take lead when values are challenged. The liberal ideas of Europe which have served us so well, are at stake, nothing less. The EAPM should lead by example and strengthen us all in keeping high beams on, always staying loyal to our values.  

With Christmas and a new year approaching, Berna Öztınaz (Turkie) will take over as president of the EAPM from January 1st. In addition to being an extraordinary leader and great person, she is the first woman, the first from Turkie and probably youngest ever to be elected into this position. Personally, I could not be more happy with and proud of my successor. Together with David Ducheyne (Belgium) as VP, the rest of the board, Bec Normand and Natalia Peel running the secretariat and working group leaders as engines for communities of practice, they will navigate wisely and effectively. Bon voyage!

I will continue as board member to the world federation WFPMA, in addition to being the Norwegian EAPM-representative, and keep a distanced closeness to EAPM board and operations. I am sure the future of the EAPM will be a great one, if we continue to support each other on a peer-to-peer level as well as support the European HR community as a whole. We need to stick together to stay strong. 


I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, and thank you for all the trust, support and all the good conversations during all my tenure. It has been a privilege.   

Be proud, and stay hungry, And remember that sharing is caring. 

Even Bolstad