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HR firms bristle at criticism

Following criticism of Slovak Human Resources companies from the heads of large corporations, carried in The Slovak Spectator in 1998, several HR firms have responded that they are doing an excellent job under tough market conditions.
Thomas Velinder, managing director of Swedish pharmaceuticals company Astra, said in May 1998 that Slovak HR firms over-charged and provided sub-par services. "Human Resources companies here in the Slovak Republic are way behind their colleagues in other countries, but they charge the same amount of money," Velinder said. "The way they behave, the way they look at me as their customer, their understanding and how fast they work is quite different from what I am used to in other countries."

Following criticism of Slovak Human Resources companies from the heads of large corporations, carried in The Slovak Spectator in 1998, several HR firms have responded that they are doing an excellent job under tough market conditions.

Thomas Velinder, managing director of Swedish pharmaceuticals company Astra, said in May 1998 that Slovak HR firms over-charged and provided sub-par services. "Human Resources companies here in the Slovak Republic are way behind their colleagues in other countries, but they charge the same amount of money," Velinder said. "The way they behave, the way they look at me as their customer, their understanding and how fast they work is quite different from what I am used to in other countries."

Slovak recruiters, however, said that it was unfair to compare the performance of Slovak and western HR companies. "If [customers] are comparing results, well, sometimes it is not possible to find someone on the current market," said Juraj Vrabko, a senior consultant with H. Neumann International. "However, the service we provide is of the same quality as that in the Czech Republic, Germany, or Austria. We follow the same procedures here as we do in other countries."

Ľudmila Hadarová, personnel manager at Tatra Banka, agreed that Slovak HR firms faced a tough business environment compared to their western counterparts. "A human resources company in Belgium gets hundreds of answers when looking for a person, whereas a Slovak company gets three or four," she said. "That's probably why Slovak human resources companies have such a big problem finding the right person."

Meanwhile, Martin Novotný, managing partner of Jenewein International, did not deny that some poor HR companies existed in Slovakia. "There are 90 companies in Slovakia that call themselves 'Human Resources' companies without being qualified to do so. Many HR companies try their best, but they just don't have the adequate international experience," he said. "So, if you take the average quality of the 90, maybe [Velinder's] statements are true, but they are not true of the higher quality companies."

As for Velinder's charges of over-pricing, both Vrabko and Novotný insisted that they simply were not true. "We do not charge the same as western companies," Vrabko said. "I would say that we charge several times less for the same service in Slovakia as you would have to pay in Germany."

"We cannot charge too much," Novotný furthered. "It does not matter if you are a vegetable seller or if you work with electronics. When you have a product, you cannot charge too much because of the competition."

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