The labour market is currently undergoing significant changes, as it has been for the past three years. But now the changes are different, more precisely they have different causes. Employers are starting to ask employees to come into the office more, but hybrid work is a reality that won’t go away. Including the legislation changes accordingly, both at national and European level, as was also discussed at the HR Working Romania #futureofwork conference, organized by Business Review.
Cristian Vasilcoiu, Ministry of Labour: The legislation is still changing in the labour market
”We are like a train on rails at the moment because we have to tick off all the conditions in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). Many of them contradict other rules of the Romanian state or even of the European Commission, but which we have to we respect because there is a lot of money that Romania depends on at the moment. In this context, several reforms are passed there, which target the state rather than the private environment, from the pension reform to the wage reform,” said Madalin-Cristian Vasilcoiu, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Labor and Social Solidarity.
”On the other hand, these days we are also working on small retouches to the social dialogue law. Unfortunately, the labor market in Romania, but also in Europe, was facing an acute lack of employees, and the solution was to bring in labor from abroad. And many of these workers from Asia tend to leave Romania for other European countries, where they have the impression that it will be better for them. We face a number of difficulties in this regard, including in terms of entering the Schengen area.
That’s why we are working at the Government level on a series of regulations that will calm down this tendency of those who want to leave us for other states. But we do not want to limit the access of labor force from abroad because we know from the private sector that the labor force is needed. Companies estimate that 500,000 employees are needed today, and maybe even if not that many are needed right now, as they expand, companies need new employees.
The general trend in the EU, as in our country, is that the new generations, much better prepared professionally and educationally, no longer accept unskilled jobs. They want more, it’s normal to want more, both professionally and financially, and these positions remain unfilled. Including in the HoReCa area we find these problems, and now it is almost impossible to go to a restaurant and not find at least one employee from Asia, including on the serving side.
The second trend in the EU is to look for solutions to produce more and more locally, to stop depending on imports from the Asian area. Obviously, labor will be needed to produce. The products will be more expensive at first, but things will adjust over time. But again labor is needed and a market as open as possible will be needed. It also depends on how quickly the war in Ukraine ends, that a good part of the well-qualified labor force can come.” – concluded Cristian Vasilcoiu.
Zsuzsanna Toth, Vodafone: We cannot go back to the pre-Covid period
”I think that indeed both companies and the government have a role to play in the workforce and I do think that the private sector can play a great role in skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling of the labor force. We have white-collar colleagues, but still, 50 percent of them are working in call centers and in retail stores, which is not necessarily of the highest education. We also have IT developers and programmers. And Vodafone is going through a transformation, from a telecommunications company becoming a technology company, a trusted technology partner, which means that technology and higher skills are needed across the whole company. And we are investing a lot in training our retail and call center colleagues, more than 1,000 people, to upgrade these skills. This type of transformation is very important for our company,” said Zsuzsanna Toth, Human Resources Director at Vodafone Romania.
”At Vodafone, we understood that we can become a tech company, to play a role beyond connectivity. To become a master of IoT services, to have an offer beyond the connectivity technology. This also meant recruiting future talents, we have a young talent program through which we want to bring 50 fresh graduates and offer them a two-year development across all the departments. A big part will go to technology, but also in the commercial areas. People who want to study and invest in themselves are the ones that we are looking for.
In matters of recruiting the employees we need, we are in the same situation that all our competitors are today. And we are not competing only against others here in Romania, but we are competing for the same talent that is about to leave the country and work somewhere else. So it is important what type of environment we create for them, and what type of flexibility we give them. There are many things today that we need to do, including collaborating with universities, what is our corporate brand and so on.
Regarding work-from-home, we also see that rental fees and other expenses can be higher in some countries than others, which is why it is better to work for a German company from Romania. It is a trend we saw in the last period. On the other hand, if we ask employees to be all on the premises, I think it will be very difficult to recruit. We want people to work from the office at least two days a week to socialize and to exchange ideas, but we cannot go back to the pre-Covid period. There are certain jobs in which if you don’t give the possibility of remote work, you won’t find any employees.” – explained Zsuzsanna Toth.
Roxana Abrasu, NNDKP: The situation is dynamic and changes very quickly
”While we were not long ago thinking about how to best implement hybrid and remote working, we’ve now had two very large clients tell us they want to reintroduce 100 percent office work, a major change from how it was during the pandemic and immediately after. It is clear that things have not yet returned to normal and we still have a lot of work to do, but what is clear is that there is a much greater concern that employers have for employees than there was before the pandemic,” said Roxana Abrasu, Partner, Head of Employment Practice at NNDKP.
”Working from home is of great interest to candidates and will continue to be so in the future. Yes, remote-work comes with its inevitable challenges, but companies are also now finding different ways to counteract the negative effects that this type of work can have. Remote work for the employer comes with a series of responsibilities in the sense that you have to take care that everything that happens outside your own space must be sufficiently safe, social and health. And through the new changes to the labor code, more flexibility has been brought to the way of working.
There are levers for the employees in collaboration with the employer, depending on the interests of each, and can reach a good work-life balance through dialogue. Of course, a lot also depends on the manager with whom the employer talks, managers were forced to find other skills during the pandemic. Remote work will remain a reality of our lives for a long time to come, and employers need to find the best solution to keep everyone happy.
In 2023, there is a trend for employers to take efficiency measures. They are not necessarily generated by any negative financial result, but rather the desire to be cautious and to make the processes as efficient as possible in relation to the workforce. The trend comes from a global level, because we have clients implementing such reorganization processes in all sectors of activity. There will also be collective layoffs at large companies and large employers, these are processes that are also happening at this moment. What we must have from a legal point of view when reorganizing is that, first of all, there must be real business reasons that generate such measures, otherwise they will not withstand a legal process.
Beyond these, there are several steps that must be taken, the unions must also be involved, all the provisions of the labor code must be respected. In our country, employees enjoy protection before the courts, even when there are real reorganization processes, but there are still judges who do not have a vision or do not want to have one and do not understand the business rationale of a company that makes such a decision . The situation is dynamic and changes very quickly; if last year we had clients who were making expansion plans, this year they suddenly stopped hiring and moved to the point-by-point reorganization of each department.” – concluded Roxana Abrasu, Partner, Head of Employment Practice at NNDKP.
Madalina Racovitan, KPMG: The employee work experience is very important
”We did a national labor force survey last year and we saw that there are about two million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in education nor in the labor market. And we will need to find solutions to find these young people and attract them to the labor market. I think we, the private sector, are not doing enough to show them what it means to work in a company or an organization either,” said Madalina Racovitan, Partner KPMG, Head of People Services.
”Regarding remote work, let’s not forget that there are many fiscal and social consequences, because you can work from anywhere, but taxes and duties are local, and so are social security. Last week, the European Union published a framework contract that enables member states to adopt it and which simplifies the social security situation for those employees who basically work at the computer in another country and which allows those employees to remain insured in the employers’ social system. Otherwise, those employees should become insured in the social system of the state from which they actually work. It is not a European Directive, it is an optional framework contract, so it does not mean that it must be adopted by all countries.
It is interesting to note that many steps have been taken towards creating constructive and healthy organizational cultures. It is the credit of the human resources departments who have worked very hard in recent years. There are studies done on the organizational culture in Romania in 2016 and in 2021 and an improvement of the organizational culture is clearly seen in all areas. An interesting area observed in these studies is the outcome-oriented one, where not much has changed. I mean, the employees do their job and they do it very well, but it doesn’t show more than that, people don’t see the reason why they do this work. If they could better see what the results of their work are, you would see more commitment from them and it would also help their retention in the company. Here I think there is an opportunity for improvement for the next period.
Hybrid work is definitely here and will stay for the long term, no matter how it is implemented in the company. On the other hand, if we bring people to the office and they spend eight hours in front of the computer or in interminable meetings, it is better to let them stay at home. But we see more and more focus on results, not on effort, that is, it doesn’t matter if you do your job in four hours instead of eight. And it would be important for employees not to forget to ask for feedback, because many times they say they don’t get feedback, but did they ask before they received it? Of course, the team manager also counts for this. The employee experience is very important and the better it is the better the retention and efficiency.” – concluded Madalina Racovitan.
Costin Tudor, Undelucram.ro: The humanization of work
It is important to understand what humanization of the way of work and people analytics means. Employers want performance, this is where reorganizations come from, to be more efficient with lower costs. Companies have wanted this since the beginning of time, it’s nothing new. It’s just that having this context of the pressure imposed by a possible crisis, by difficult situations in other regions, although there is capital in the market, it was decided that instead of expansion, it should go towards efficiency and reorganization,” said Costin Tudor, Founder & CEO at Undelucram.ro.
„On the other hand, employees, having the experience of the pandemic and various crises, want to be understood, including knowing what they are working for and what is the purpose of their work. This is very important for all that work-life balance means, more important than salary, which has taken second place in these cases. And that’s why it’s important not to generalize solutions like working exclusively from the office. We HR people should also push certain solutions and ideas to management so that we don’t end up with blanket solutions for all employees.
People analytics means that a recruiter or manager looks at the data and empowers the employee based on the data. That means conveying and what the purpose of his work is, based on the data you have. Data interpretation does not mean a lack of empathy, that we do not understand human situations, on the contrary, they all go hand in hand.
We as HR people should think about what we need to recruit people and how we streamline the process. A personal point is the salary. Where it’s not just about how much is offered, an amount and that’s it, nothing more. It’s a trend that also happens in Western Europe, where the degree of transparency is much higher than here. Salary transparency is not only for recruitment, but also after, in the way of career advancement.
Regarding sustainability, it is an opportunity for small companies to learn from the big ones, which already apply it on a daily basis. Otherwise, it is a topic where we have a starting point from which we depart, but there is a lot of work on this topic as well. Small companies are the ones where one employee does more work alone, so sustainability seems like an extra responsibility that they don’t need. That’s why I say it’s good to take the model from big companies and maybe that way we can more easily implement everything necessary for sustainability.” – concluded Costin Tudor, Founder & CEO at Undelucram.ro.