BR Analysis. Perking up: HR market moves beyond basic benefits as workplace evolves

Newsroom 08/10/2018 | 13:09

With employees and jobseekers now expecting their packages to go beyond salary and traditional bonuses, the local HR market has changed significantly in the past two decades. Meanwhile, international trends in this field will sooner or later reach the local workforce. 

By Anda Sebesi

While back in the ‘90s salary and financial incentives were the main tools used by companies to attract and retain their employees, things have changed dramatically with the emergence of the younger generations of employees. Bosses are more and more focused on offering a wide range of non-financial benefits to their employees. Pundits say that schedule flexibility has become more important, especially for financial, legal and HR professionals. The option to work flexibly anytime between 7am and 8pm has become a regular demand for both existing and potential employees, along with working from home and medical and gym subscriptions.

During the past two decades, Romanian jobseekers of all ages have reshaped the local workforce and made companies rethink their HR policies according to their expectations. The emergence of the concept of wellbeing is an example in this regard. The concept has developed gradually over the last few years and now the psychological wellbeing of its employees is an important aspect for any organization. This has become a focus for both HR departments and employees of multinational companies operating on the local market.

From corporate medical subscriptions, to an attractive package of both financial and non-financial perks, gym subscriptions and a friendly working environment, the majority of companies active in Romania have understood the importance of the wellbeing of their talent. At present, there are over 50 types of wellbeing programs on the Romanian market, focusing on different aspects such as physical and psycho-emotional health, personal development and various hobbies.

New times, new jobs…

With the entrance of multinationals on the Romanian market, which pushed the pedal on their development here, new jobs have emerged. The pharmaceutical sector is such an example. When multinational pharma firms decided to extend their businesses in Romania in the early 90s, the concept of a medical representative was nonexistent. A decade later, in 2007, this job was among those listed in the Romanian Jobs Code (COR). Then, an increase in their size persuaded pharma companies to create new types of jobs in fields like business development, field force effectiveness, regulatory affairs and governmental affairs.

But the pharmaceutical industry is not the sole example when it comes to creating such new positions. With the development of the sustainability and social responsibility concepts in Romania, many companies – both Romanian and international ones – created specific positions for this area of activity, like CSR specialist or CSR manager. The aim was to create a distinct department responsible for the development and implementation of CSR projects nationwide.

… And creative workspaces

In the past ten years companies have become more aware that providing a “happy” working environment, where individuals can express their creativity and feel like they are part of the organization, might be the key for bosses to score highly on the attractiveness scale for current and future generations of workers. As people’s work changes, their needs change. And as needs change, work environments must also change to remain supportive. The evolution of offices as places primarily for process work to places for creative work has profound implications for the effectiveness and productivity of employees. To meet the needs of companies, real estate developers now offer a wide range of complementary services like gyms and kindergartens, aiming to create communities that will make relocation more difficult.

Training gives double boost

It has been a long time since training stopped being merely a tool to motivate the employees of a company – regardless of its field of activity, origin or size – and started to also support its development. Coming back to the pharma industry, while in 1998 it was all about “on the job” training, ten years later companies in this sector started to offer training packages adapted to each stage of the career path of a medical representative, from selling skills to programs based on negotiation techniques or area management.

Employer branding becomes crucial

In the past two decades companies active in Romania have learned that their reputation as desirable employers is a key factor to attract employees in general and talents in particular. Many of them now focus their efforts on the concept of employer branding, in an attempt to retain their employees more easily. Employees are the company’s first brand ambassadors. Positive emotions like being proud of their job, their team and their projects are enhanced by truly understanding their role within the company, its mission and vision and what differentiates it from others. If this is not happening, employees will find another job where they feel good. As Richard Branson once said, “If you run a business, put on top your employees, then your consumers, and then your shareholders.” Authentic employer branding that is not limited to a cleverly-packaged recruitment process is an important factor in increasing employee loyalty and retention. It is also an effective tool in attracting candidates who fit the values and demands of an organization. According to Boston Consulting Group, employer branding is ranked fourth within HR programs for its impact on profit.

Empowering employees

The employee of today is no longer just a member of a working team. He or she has the chance to prove they can do more. And this is a reality for the Romanian workforce too. For example, in addition to the work-life balance benefits that it gives its employees, Adobe Romania offers its employees the opportunity to buy Adobe shares at a preferential rate within an internal savings program. “In addition to the salary increases, high performers get Adobe equity stakes which they can trade, allowing them to benefit directly from the company’s success. While last year the price of a share was USD 130, today it is USD 250. So, employees who buy or receive equity stakes have significant extra-salary benefits,” Cris Radu, senior director of engineering and site leader at Adobe Romania, told Business Review earlier this year. He adds that this is one of the most popular benefits with the company’s employees and a very effective tool to retain and motivate the team.

International wave engulfs Romania too

Digitalization has already refashioned some industries and jobs, and on the medium to long term it will reset the entire business environment. More than a third of UK jobs could be at high risk of automation by the early 2030s and robots could take over 38 percent of current US jobs in the next 15 years, says a report released by PwC, cited by Emerging Technologies’ Impact on Society & Work in 2030, a study conducted by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies. In addition, the tasks and duties workers will perform will be markedly different from what they have studied. The same study says that around 85 percent of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.

As processing power increases tenfold every five years, humans will be eclipsed by computers in many areas, says the study. Machines will bring lightning speed and accuracy to all manner of tasks. However, it would be a fallacy to assume that technology is making human effort redundant. It’s doubtful that computers will have fully mastered the fundamental, instinctive skills of intuition, judgment, and emotional intelligence that humans value by 2030.

As Romania is part of the global business environment, it is impossible for it to avoid the implications of the digitalization on its workforce. All of its sectors are already or will be highly affected by the digitalization phenomenon. Technology industries and IT, the creative industries (mainly marketing and advertising), agriculture and tourism are some of the sectors which digitalization has already impacted or will have a significant positive or negative impact.

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