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SALES AND MARKETING WAGES ROSE LESS THAN OTHERS THIS YEAR

Survey surprise: Slovakia saturated with salespeople

Most Slovak employees with international companies here continue to see their salaries quickly approach those of their counterparts in western Europe, but according to a wage survey published by Coopers & Lybrand and KNO Worldwide, one field is already facing a personnel glut and it may come as a surprise to many: sales and marketing. The third annual survey, which examined the salaries of 864 employees in 19 firms across seven industrial and service sectors, found that sales and marketing staff saw less salary growth in general than employees categorized as administration, finance, technical and service, or transportation and distribution (see graph below). Most sales and marketing positions saw salaries grow by less than 20 percent.


"We still have a little Lenin in our heads."

Eva Gollvitzerová, Coopers & Lybrand


Most Slovak employees with international companies here continue to see their salaries quickly approach those of their counterparts in western Europe, but according to a wage survey published by Coopers & Lybrand and KNO Worldwide, one field is already facing a personnel glut and it may come as a surprise to many: sales and marketing.

The third annual survey, which examined the salaries of 864 employees in 19 firms across seven industrial and service sectors, found that sales and marketing staff saw less salary growth in general than employees categorized as administration, finance, technical and service, or transportation and distribution (see graph below). Most sales and marketing positions saw salaries grow by less than 20 percent.

"The market is becoming saturated," said Eva Gollvitzerová, director of Coopers & Lybrand's consulting services. "More and more greedy sales and marketing guys are breeding in the universities," she added with a laugh.

But Gollvitzerová emphasized that the gap between the wages earned by Slovaks working for firms with foreign capital (which the survey examined) and those working for wholly Slovak-owned companies is decreasing. "The same position is being valued almost the same [by foreign and Slovak firms]," she said. "Nobody expected it would happen so fast."

Where the demand is

Of the 39 jobs examined, the average wage for technical and service managers grew the most, increasing by 52 percent over 1994. The second-highest growth came for accountants and economists, whose average wage increased by 43 percent. These increases contrast with Slovakia's annual inflation rate for 1994, which was 11.7 percent.

But the growth process is likely to slow down as Slovak salaries close in on western standards. Assuming an annual inflation rate of 12 percent over the next year, employers said they expect to raise wages by an average of 14.4 percent.

Across the board, the range between the highest and lowest salaries paid for individual jobs was tighter than in previous years. This, according to Dušan Šemrinec, project supervisor for KNO Worldwide, indicates that a general consensus is emerging as to what salaries people at certain positions should be earning. In all but three of the benchmark positions, the highest wage was less than five times greater than the lowest, and in more than half of the positions studied, the highest wage was no more than three times higher.

Pension plans considered

The survey, which also looked at companies' incentives and benefits packages, found that nearly three-quarters of firms offer their sales staff incentive plans, which typically accounted for 30 to 35 percent of the salesperson's monthly income.

The only benefit offered by more than half of the companies was reduced-price meals (78 percent of firms), but 44 percent of the firms said they are considering offering pension plans to their Slovak employees. "Everybody is afraid of getting old," Gollvitzerová said. Then, referring to the post-socialist Slovak pension system, she added. "You can earn anything - millions - but in the end you only get 4 or 5,000 Sk a month."

Currently, the survey found that only 6 percent of the international companies offer pension plans to their Slovak employees. "Companies are only starting to offer pension plans," Šemrinec said, "which may motivate people over a longer period of time and may actually attract people."

Does training and development help motivate staff?

The survey found that companies increased their budget for training and development by 25 percent over last year. But here, Šemrinec and Gollvitzerová diverged in their analyses. Šemrinec explained the increase by saying that companies increasingly want "to give people an opportunity to grow, and therefore, to motivate them. With any business, as people grow, the company grows with them."

But Gollvitzerová guessed that companies may be putting more of their social funds into training and development because, as she said, some Slovak employees may still perceive development activities "more as a holiday." "It is not motivating if people don't need to pay for it," Gollvitzerová said. "We still have a little Lenin in our heads."

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