Cristian Huzau, Country Manager Gi Group Staffing Company
- What are the trends related to technology that 2022 will bring or will continue in our industry? How will they affect us? What opportunities and challenges should we expect? How do you plan to use them in your favor and to be ahead of the others?
As 2020 and especially 2021 showed us that as a general business entity, we are capable of adapting and implementing strategies meant to help us survive. These past few years have, in a way, forced us to make notable progress in areas such as remote work, business distance communication systems, remote team management or new business acumen, visible in the swift change of main focus during the pandemic (manufacturers turning into local producers of masks, disinfectants or any other useful products). The note set will by all forecasts, continue in 2022, when we believe that companies will refine and improve all these new assets. Signals from the market tell us that companies from all sectors, have altered their business plans so as to include a possible lockdown, economic regression and each have some sort of business emergency plan as back-up. In terms of technology, mostly in direction that rely on human interaction or support, technology focusses on canceling the gap in employee engagement, productivity or sense of connection. Most of the tech advances center on creating or improving tools such as joint work platforms, online training platforms, tools that center on offering counseling or medical services in a digital format, all with the scope of engaging and not losing employee interest. As a result, we see in increased interest from foreign big players of digital services (eg business mass communication software) to invest in Ro. At Gi Group we offer foreign development investors’ consultancy and have first hand data regarding companies that consider opening a Ro entity. So, some’s disadvantage is seen as an opportunity by others, who manage to turn the tides and make a profitable business out of it.
2. The way of working, recruiting, onboarding and so on were probably the most affected by the pandemic. What do you think is here to stay and what new trends will emerge in 2022, when it comes to work? What challenges will companies face? How companies as well as employees will be affected? Does your company plan to implement new strategies for recruiting and retaining people? Do you intend to go back to the office? When? What changes should your employees expect to see there?
When it comes to managing teams of people, one staple rule was, until now, direct human interaction. When we talk about our field of activity, even more so. We have learned in the past 2 years that recruitment, onboarding, induction, team coordination and team cohesion can be achieved even from a distance. It all comes down to putting in the effort J It is true that succeeding in this manner, implies a great deal of effort, conscious and continuous investment of time, resources and energy. It is not easy to create a sense of belonging in the absence of direct contact. We believe that this will be the main challenge companies will face deeply, starting 2022. We will need to find other incentives and other external motivators for our employees, other than the quality of office space or the non-conventional casual Fridays by the coffee machine. For managers, many of these new types of incentives will have to be non-financial. Extra attention and a new way of interaction will for sure, make the difference. In a new world of work, the adaptability and creativity of managers will be put to the test. Think about how will you substitute ‘’gossip’’ at lunchtime. With what will you replace the cigarette break you took with your colleagues? How will you ensure the information stream that happened so naturally among peers at the office? How will you get to know a new comer’s passions, hobbies or problems on the home front, if every interaction you have is predefined in format and timeframe, on Zoom, Teams, Meet etc.? You will have to take a leap of trust and adapt. Some of us do it naturally, for some of us there still is a struggle, yet everyone has to adapt. Information from the market tells us that the majority of companies will resort to a hybrid model of work, in order to give space to their employees and reduce cost while doing so. Except for areas of activity that do not allow remote work, this home office set-up can actually be a way of continuous preparation for a downfall. No doubt about its advantages and these are mainly visible in the recruitment aspect: you can now recruit from all over the country and why not even the world, making the recruitment process leaner, shorter and more efficient. Luckily, for us, we are part of the companies that afford to implement a hybrid model of business. All throughout this period we have had teams that came to the office no matter what (admins, financial personnel) and teams who worked almost exclusively from home (recruiters mostly). We expect this to continue in 2022 as it proved to be very effective and safe at the same time. Our employees can expect transparency and communication and in terms of more concrete aspects, a reduced yet more efficiently organized workspace, for the days in which they do decide to come to the office.
3. Are there any trends in the customer experience area? Do you foresee any change in the way our industry delivers services? Is the customer satisfaction affected by the pandemic? What opportunities do you see for this year? Did your company find any new solutions to improve the customers’ experience?
What we experienced for the better part of 2021 and, we have signals that it will continue if not increase in 2022, is foreign development interest in Romania, especially Bucharest closely followed by cities such as Cluj-Napoca, Brasov or Iasi. As always, the main attraction in the area of customer services is the large number of people knowing more than two foreign languages at a time, the digital literacy even for entry-level personnel or the quite modest salary range for entry and middle level candidates. Regarding these aspects, we believe that 2022 will be different, in the sense that companies will have to come up with better and more attractive salary packages, as the market dynamics is very rapidly changing. Candidates become more selective, as the differentiators between the companies have disappeared. If I can work from home, I can work for any company in the country. So why should I work for you? We, alongside our partners, must be prepared to answer this question, as it can make the difference in terms of recruitment headcount. In addition, it is important to know that candidates suddenly having access to many more opportunities, expect and even demand a simpler, quicker recruitment process. Even if we involve automatization or digitalization in this process, we must keep in mind that these tools are helpful only in some stages of it. If you do the sourcing part automatically and then you drag the candidates through 10 interview stages with different shareholders from your company, extending the process for more than 3 weeks, chances are your candidate will withdraw or accept another offer. Because of leaner, quicker, smoother decision making recruitment processes, employers have been forced to review or implement strong retention methods. These range from a better approach, better company culture/communication, better benefit package, better work tools/conditions or set-up and go all the way to the classic counter-offer. Depending on the candidates’ sense of belonging, fear of the unknown or simple sense of habit, employers know that even if they would like something new and professionally exciting, many candidates will remain where they are even for a little financial incentive. The general context is just not so friendly for important career changes.
This puts additional pressure on companies such as Gi Group, who need to rapidly adapts and innovate internal processes as to attract a sufficient candidate pool for each project, so to overcome the gap of not interested, counter-offered or simply too scared to make a change now type of candidates. For the keen eye, all these challenges can for sure be an opportunity for improvement and rapid technological progress. We, at Gi Group have invested, on the one hand on digital tools for the sourcing part of our recruitment processes, and on the other on the soft skill improvement of our recruiters, as there are parts of the process that simply need a human touch.