MANY companies in Slovakia are seeing the impacts of the economic downtown to a lesser or greater degree. While one year ago firms tried to improve their competitive position towards potential employees by various benefits and motivators, now the situation has been reversing. For many companies orders have been decreasing, along with profit, and the companies’ need to keep the same number of employees has also declined. Therefore, they now search for and identify possibilities of where to save money. They are implementing various ways to reduce costs, often in a form of reduced benefits, cutting or completely stopping trainings and staff development programs. Many companies have already started selective layoffs but also, in some cases, mass layoffs.
These necessary solutions should be taken, however, not only from the short-term point of view – that is, quickly reducing costs – but also from the long-term one, as these decisions critically influence the future operations and direction of the company. When laying off employees, the firm must identify those people who are crucial for the company, for it is those employees who are difficult to replace in the crisis.
Talented employees are crucial
The crisis has also caused changes in the job market. There are more people available and high-quality people can also now be found – be they experts in a particular branch, specialists, or even managers. Often, these job-seekers are willing to re-evaluate their requirements. A year ago it was often a problem for employers to find appropriate employees for many positions, as surplus labour was missing from the market and many applicants had very big demands. Today, it is mainly stability and certainty that are dominating what people want. Thus, many of them are ready to reduce their demands and they want to choose stable firms which offer at least partial certainty and the possibility of long-term employment.
Graduates have to lower their demands
The crisis has influenced this year’s school graduates as well. Firms which used to hire new graduates every year are not offering as many work opportunities this year as previously. The firms have strongly toughened their requirements for candidates. It can be assumed that many current graduates will continue to study, or leave for abroad to take mostly unqualified labour to make do for the time.
It is important to understand the situation of employees
In the current crisis in the job market, it is necessary to identify and also use the positive features that it may bring. It will allow able companies to discover their further possibilities and opportunities. For example, in human resources, it shows how managers and leaders react in crisis situations and how they handle crisis management. Now, the time has come to see how well they can manage to motivate and keep the loyalty of their employees. They can also watch the level of solidarity among their employees. Companies must be able to create a certain form of understanding of the current situation among their employees; that they are in the same boat and that only by joining together will they manage to survive this crisis. A healthy company culture, but also good internal communications which are of high importance during this time, are needed to achieve this. Proper timing and the appropriate format can help prevent gossip and false information which often worsen the general mood of employees and along with it their motivation. We recommend that employers and managers be transparent and open to their employees and to inform them openly and truthfully about the actual situation of the company.
But if a company must say goodbye to some of its employees, it is necessary that the employer behaves fairly to these employees and follows the Labour Code. During their departure, the company should provide them everything that they are entitled to under the Labour Code and the collective agreement. Or it can offer them outplacement, either within the company (when this is possible, especially in large companies) or via external agencies. Certainly it should provide them with an outlook about the situation in the labour market or recommend renowned recruitment agencies or job boards or offer preparations for job interviews and help in writing a CV. The latter is necessary for many people who have worked a long period of time for one company and, de facto, do not have much experience in seeking a job and related tasks, for example, in writing an attractive CV or the ability of ‘selling’ oneself. In such situations the companies should also not forget suitable and sufficient communication.
There is still a constant interest in high-quality and able people in the labour market. Such people still have opportunities to get a job even though the offer is lower than six months ago. Some companies in Slovakia have even used the crisis to complete their talent pool.
Even though the crisis is an unfavourable situation for employers as well as employees, both sides must learn to react flexibly and find suitable solutions to survive these difficult times. Because now it is true even more so that only the best will survive. And this applies not only for the labour market.
Drahomíra Garajová is the Manager of the HR Department at Deloitte Slovensko and Diana Karaffová is the Marketing Senior Coordinator at Deloitte Slovensko
4. May 2009 at 0:00 | By Drahomíra Garajová and Diana Karaffová