As more foreign investment enters the Slovak economy, new businesses are confronted with the difficult prospect of finding skilled people for key positions. Two options for foreign corporations are to create a personnel department in-house or to use an outside personnel consulting firm.
The Slovak Spectator talked with Marta Kubinská, Executive Consultant, and Juraj Necpal, General Director, of H. Neumann International, about the problems, advantages, and challenges involved with personnel consulting. H. Neumann International has operated in Slovakia since 1991 and is the leading human resources consulting company in central Europe according to a report published by The Financial Times in November 1996. What follows is a blueprint for investors who might want to outsource a personnel consulting firm.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What are the difficulties of personnel consulting in Slovakia ?
Kubinská: Five years ago personnel consulting in Slovakia started from ground zero. In such a short period of time it has developed into a successful, high-tech and enormously dynamic branch of the service industry. The biggest difficulties have been the business environment's unpreparedness, obstacles in people's awareness, the frequent mistaking of a personnel consultant's work for the work of former personnel officers during socialism, and a lack of skilled managers and educated specialists with necessary language skills and practical experience in a market economy.
A boom in the field of personnel management in Slovakia is still to come because more and more employees have experience in a market economy and they have the language skills to operate internationally.
TSS: What are the benefits of a business using a personnel consulting company?
Necpal: Know-how. Only personnel consulting companies with the right know-how will succeed. You have to have experience working with Slovak culture. You need to know people, their mentality, their expectations, and what are their strengths and weaknesses.
There are databases of people with sound professional skills in business, finance, accounting, and computers. Though these skills are sought, you cannot discount what the person's personality, how well they communicate, what their ideas for their professional future are, stability - not a job hopper, or someone who has held the same job for 20 years, but in between.
Kubinská: With these databases of candidates and plenty of contacts from all areas of business, personnel consulting companies can identify suitable candidates from the entire labor market depending on the client's requirements in a reasonable amount of time and at a reasonable price.
TSS: What do companies searching for employees look for in a person?
Necpal: They want people who are open-minded, professional, tough, a team player, goal-oriented and optimistic.
TSS: What are the advantages/disadvantages of employing local people in top positions?
Kubinská: The advantages are that local managers are a lot cheaper than expatriates. They have a perfect command of the native language. They know the local business conditions (economics, markets, wages, opportunities and legal conditions). Because of this they are able to identify market niches more quickly.
The disadvantages of local workers tend to be a poor economic education acquired in the former regime (relevant to market economy subjects), language barriers and a lack of experience with working in the West. All of these disadvantages for Slovak managers tend to disappear year by year.
Necpal: Expatriates make up less than 10 percent of hiring at Neumann. People aged 30 to 40 have the best chance of getting hired, though young people with an education are recruited also.
27. Feb 1997 at 0:00 | Daniel J. Stoll