Recent crisis have taught HR departments that people’s needs may change unexpectedly and that everybody must be able to adapt. The second panel of Business Review’s Working Romania HR Conference was titled New Ways of Working: Get Inspired by the Best. The debate focused on the ways companies can adapt to situations like the pandemic and on the trends that have emerged together with the need to feel safe while still keeping in touch with co-workers. Plenty of resources and solutions were found to keep employees safe as well as to help them enjoy working with others and strengthen team bonds.
By Aurel Constantin
The pandemic has made us all a lot more sensitive to some things, and the way we react to different situations now is different. For Orange Romania, a company celebrating 25 years of operating in our country this year (under the Mobilrom name for the first 5 years), the concept of wellbeing used to mean free fruit, massage chairs, and other fun stuff being provided at the office. “After the pandemic started, the idea of wellbeing got a completely new meaning. So, we tried to take it further and took an inventory of the ‘good’ things. That’s how I discovered that recognition was also part of wellbeing, then we created a platform called Wellbeing Recognition to respond to our colleagues’ needs. Employees needed safety, including with the people they interacted with, people who could help them psycho-emotionally when they needed it. We brought all the elements of wellbeing into the platform,” said Doina Filip, Head of Reward and HR Budget at Orange Romania.
Communication was paramount for all employees during the pandemic. There were businesses that weren’t able to send all their people to work from home, so they had to find ways to keep things secure, but also fair for all their workers. “In the Banca Transilvania network, we have around 5,000 team members who can’t work from home because they work at front offices, while around 3,000 colleagues can work remotely as they have back-office roles. But how fair is that? It wasn’t really fair to people who had to be at the office, so we all worked at home for two out of four weeks. The only ones who worked exclusively from home were those who had various health problems and were vulnerable,” said Nevenca Doca, Senior Executive Human Resources Director at Banca Transilvania. She added that communication was a challenge, but that the team was helped by the experience of the two pre-pandemic acquisitions made by the bank —Volksbank and Bancpost—when they had to find ways to effectively communicate with new colleagues.
Healthcare projects and professional development are trends that will remain important even after all restrictions are lifted. “Healthcare-related projects were very successful during the pandemic period. At the same time, professional development is also very important, as everyone wants to grow. And it is up to each of us to find our way and become the best at what we do. But of course, a job is also defined by the benefits everyone receives,” said Monica Daliu, Regional Head of People, Development, and Recruitment for Central Europe at Endava. She noted that the company has different benefit programmes such as like Employee Benefit Trust and Shares Save Plan. “For the company itself, the pandemic did not bring significant new challenges, but employees had to learn to manage their time well and create a separation between their professional and private lives.”
Apart from financial benefits and healthcare, the need for additional rewards has resurfaced in the pandemic. “Working from home was no longer a desire; it was a necessity. And sitting at home, we discovered how much we needed experiences rather than and things or products. The demand for object-based rewards has dropped significantly as they were replaced by these experiences, which existed before as well, but they were reserved for management or those with high potential. Back then, it was easier because we could simply find out what a person or a team liked, and now it’s harder because it is difficult to find something that everyone likes. That’s why I had an app that people could access and find the experiences they were looking for,” said Oana Pascu, Owner at Complice.ro.
A different challenge of the pandemic was described by Ionut Gherle, CEO at UCMS Group Romania by AROBS, who explained that, apart from integrating new colleagues, the most difficult thing was to keep the solutions that his company provided to over 1,300 clients up to date with legislative changes. “It was also difficult to adapt functionalities to meet new needs, such as working from anywhere, including from abroad—luckily, in our field, we can do this relatively easily, but other economic sectors had a harder time. But we also developed functionalities for those who wanted to continue working from the office,” Gherle explained.