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Replacing the HR department with a HR committee at Decathlon



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At sporting goods retailer Decathlon, there is no HR department or HR Head. Instead, there is an HR committee where employees from various teams come together to discuss and recommend a HR policy, recruitment policy or process. Human Resources spoke to Marc-Antoine Lepley, CFO at Decathlon Hong Kong about its committee.

1. What is the philosophy behind this groundbreaking arrangement? 

First and foremost, it’s not a formal committee, it’s rather a group of people who are motivated to address HR topics. The company philosophy is to follow a principle of subsidiarity — making the decision closest to what the consequence will be — and therefore, having an HR head sitting in her/his office and making decisions that will impact everyone does not fit.

Our committee comes from different teams in the company, so they really understand the field and topics and they are eager to make an immediate impact.

2. What is the size of your HR Committee?
Currently, we have six members from various teams. The decision of not having a leader right now is to foster the people who are willing to contribute on human resources topics. Our group is composed 100% of anyone who raised their hands!

Change is not going to come from a single person or a ‘traditional committee’ but from people who actually want to make it happen.

The size of our working group varies from time to time based on the need, the urgency of the matter and the availability of our members.

3. What does the negotiation process look like?
The whole point is to move fast, make decisions together and implement them straight away. Our HR committee regroups every four weeks, each committee member contributes to the agenda for two hours. Every member elaborates on a solution, and he or she can choose a topic they are comfortable with. We do not validate any recruitment or do not decide on bonuses. We intend to accompany the business and address daily HR questions or problematic situations.

4. Is HR obsolete?
Not at all. We believe we can share those responsibilities among ourselves for now.

Every team leader is an HR head himself or herself because who better knows the best practices for their own team?

To stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices on human resources, we always keep a lookout on other companies and our Decathlon global teammates.

5. Who is eligible to join the HR committee, and is there compensation for their extra workload?

Anyone can join. We never rejected a teammate. However, we only ask for one thing: Commitment. He or she must be proactive — frequently contributing ideas, best practices and challenging their peers.

Employees’ wellbeing is essential for Decathlon Hong Kong so we make sure there is no ‘extra workload’ for the committees. The meetings happen within working hours.

6. The Decathlon group owns over 1500 stores in 49 countries. Is this practice running on a global level?

At Decathlon, one of our core values is subsidiarity. This means each person, each team makes all decisions which have an impact on their local field of action. Some Decathlon countries operate as we do, (while) some countries have HR teams. We only believe this is the best operating model for us today at Decathlon Hong Kong.

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