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Long work hours still shock

With her firm currently looking for people to work in international centres based in Bratislava, IBM Slovakia's HR Manager Eva Megová talked to The Slovak Spectator about IT employment and the surprising reaction of some younger job applicants to western working practices.
In Megová's view, adjusting to the faster work tempo and longer hours common to western firms is a challenge for all Slovak workers, regardless of their age and prior work history.


IBM's Eva Megová.
photo: Courtesy Eva Megová

With her firm currently looking for people to work in international centres based in Bratislava, IBM Slovakia's HR Manager Eva Megová talked to The Slovak Spectator about IT employment and the surprising reaction of some younger job applicants to western working practices.

In Megová's view, adjusting to the faster work tempo and longer hours common to western firms is a challenge for all Slovak workers, regardless of their age and prior work history.


The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Do you find that your company has better luck finding IT-savvy employees among younger applicants?

Eva Megová (EM): We don't have any specific age criteria for our positions. For us it's important that people are willing to learn, because new trends in IT come quickly. But all our employees have to be willing to work hard.


TSS: Working long hours and being flexible is standard for international firms. However, employees of Slovak companies and state administration bodies are used to working eight hour days. Did you ever encounter a candidate who was not dedicated enough to give up his or her weekends or state holiday days?

EM: Yes. We have often had candidates who were surprised when we told them that when, for example, there is a set deadline for a project it's necessary that an employee works longer hours or comes in on Saturday. Some people were highly qualified but weren't prepared to be dedicated to work in the evening.


TSS: The 'nine to five' attitude is said to be typical within state administration and for bureaucrats. Do you agree?

EM: I have my personal view about this. We have observed that even young people with university education, if their first job was in state administration, a ministry or another state institution, formed some different habits. Even the younger people were horrified when they heard they should stay at work until six in the evening.


TSS: Do you think that Slovak state administration employees still have this trait?

EM: When young people go into state administration I think they don't get enough opportunities to show what skills they really have. There are still many people in state administration who might have heard about computers but don't really know how to work with them, who physically are living in the third millennium but mentally are still in the past. However, this is true not only of the state sector, but other sectors as well.


TSS: Does the experience of working for state administration leave a trace on employees? Is there a difference in the efficiency with which they work, or whether they are prepared to work long hours?

EM: Candidates coming from the state administration are sometimes surprised by the high tempo of work, especially as we near our deadline periods. They arrive here with different experiences, and not everyone can adjust to the tempo of work that is standard in a western firm. We have also had cases where the candidate refused our job offer because they couldn't imagine changing their style of work.

Every work experience leaves a trace, and it comes down to personal will and principles in deciding whether one is willing to give up old habits and enter a new environment.

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