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Wages rising steadily

A recent survey of companies with foreign capital operating in the Slovak and Czech Republics has discovered that while Slovak top and middle managers' wages are steadily rising, they still lag more than 10 percent behind their Czech counterparts'. The survey, conducted by the human resource consultants KNO Worldwide and the accounting and auditing firm Coopers & Lybrand, also found that bonuses and special benefits play an increasing role as part of the remuneration schemes.
Bonuses - one or two additional salaries a year or profit-related bonuses for top management - remain important motivational tools. In addition, benefits such as a company car or a mobile telephone have become a must for executives. Other benefits to employees include subsidies for meals (offered by 80 percent of the firms), discounts on company products (30 percent) or accidental death insurance (30 percent).

A recent survey of companies with foreign capital operating in the Slovak and Czech Republics has discovered that while Slovak top and middle managers' wages are steadily rising, they still lag more than 10 percent behind their Czech counterparts'. The survey, conducted by the human resource consultants KNO Worldwide and the accounting and auditing firm Coopers & Lybrand, also found that bonuses and special benefits play an increasing role as part of the remuneration schemes.

Bonuses - one or two additional salaries a year or profit-related bonuses for top management - remain important motivational tools. In addition, benefits such as a company car or a mobile telephone have become a must for executives.

Other benefits to employees include subsidies for meals (offered by 80 percent of the firms), discounts on company products (30 percent) or accidental death insurance (30 percent). Even top managers do not get usually company flats, but most companies offer substantial relocation expenses.

The most marked salary increase over last year was for administrative managers, those employees just below general managers, who saw an average jump of 58 percent (see chart above). Significant gains were also reported in the salaries of financial managers and regional development managers (both up over 20 percent), and in sales and marketing (18 percent).

At the same time, Slovak senior managers still earn 10 - 20 percent less than their Czech colleagues, and in some middle positions the gap is even wider. The difference narrows again in the salaries that are less than 20,000 Sk/month (accountants, computer specialists and lower management).

The survey has been running for four consecutive years. The number of firms involved has increased from 19 last year to 34 this year. As Dušan Šemrinec, a project supervisor for KNO Worldwide, said it is difficult to make predictions for coming years. The survey, however, is instrumental in helping companies develop new compensation policies or in planning budget expenses for next year, Šemrinec said.

Douglas Stewart, head of the recruitment firm Personnel Select in Slovakia, confirmed the survey's finding that salary increases are steady, if not rapid.

An additional factor for companies to consider, he added, is that Slovaks are becoming more qualified. Companies therefore sometimes unnecessarily waste money and resources finding expatriates, when personnel recruitment firms can offer Slovaks with appropriate skills, Stewart said.

While the survey found that offers of employee training programs are not major incentives for job-seekers, Stewart said they should be considered as an additional value by job applicants. People here are still too price-conscious, Stewart said. Yet the big financial institutions and international companies offer programs that will help employees' personal growth and, therefore, will increase opportunities for the future.

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