HR in Shared Services and Outsourcing Forum: Adapting is the buzz word
While launching Outsourcing-Today.ro, The Diplomat-Bucharest was host for its first annual event dedicated exclusively to the HR managers in the shared services and outsourcing industry. The event took place on October 28 at the InterContinental Hotel in Bucharest and was attended by 150 industry leaders. By Bogdan Tudorache
The attendants enjoyed two interactive panels and four workshops held by Genpact, Wipro, SocGen European Business Services and ACCA. Opening the conference, Mirela Gavra, publisher, The Diplomat–Bucharest, announced the launching of the Outsourcing-Today.ro portal. "Outsourcing Today is the industry's community network and news integrated platform. We will integrate the portal with special events and print issues," said Mirela Gavra.
Accent on people
"As Richard Branson said, the key element of succeeding in any business is: People, people and people," said Daniel Bratu, vice president Operations Support, Genpact Europe and ABSL Romania vice president, Education, during his opening speech.
"The industry started from 400 people and in just ten years has developed to more than 60,000 employees, an important figure generating significant revenues to the state budget. Today Genpact has 3,000 employees, and we have bet on people," Bratu said.
Genpact launched its recruitment platform youyourself.ro, which posts today more than 420 openings in Bucharest and Cluj, for young and experienced professionals.
"We hired 1,000 new employees in 2015," also said Crina Ilie, vice president, Human Resources, Genpact Europe.
Because the Romanian education system is largely based on theory, Genpact launched its own training and education programs, one of the most known being "Genpact Gateway," Bratu explained. Other subsidized certifications and training programs allow employees to advance in their careers inside Genpact, not only in Romania, but in other "geographies as well."
"I don't think that our competitive differential to other countries should be the cheap cost of labour, but rather the value offered by our people," Bratu added.
While the market is growing, it is contributing to the state budget by about 1.5 per cent of the GDP, says Bratu. The most important fact is that the unemployment rate in the industry "is very close to zero," and the demand for new personnel is bigger than the current supply.
"This means we must treat this area with the appropriate seriousness and we must consider it, as much as possible, very well-planned and strategic to face the future."
"In Genpact, we bet on people a lot. We developed inter-human relations at a superior level, and we act as a catalyst rather than an employer, encouraging our future employees to take their own destinies in their hands and help them form and develop their careers for the future," Bratu said.
The Youyourself portal is not only a classic employment portal; it also offers the chance to all those willing to work in the industry to understand the future development Genpact offers.
"Genpact is the biggest international services provider that delivers services to international clients from Romania, we believe we are one of the largest employers and talent creators in this area. We hired about 1,000 employees in 2015," Bratu said.
The Genpact Gateway Academy was launched a few years ago, in order to offer a better understanding of industry issues to the candidates. "We take the candidates to an intensive six- to eight-week program in which we enhance their language capabilities as well as other knowledge, after which we test them before sending them to work for clients. It is not easy; it is an important investment," Bratu added.
The retention within Genpact is also sustained with the opportunity to rotate within different jobs.
"We offer employees the opportunity to rotate within positions in various areas, we offer access to ACCA or project management programs and we offer access to other Genpact jobs worldwide," Bratu explained.
A major challenge is bringing in more complex business lines to Romania, as the labour cost is no longer a differentiating factor.
"This year we had in our target hiring, in a six- to eight-month period, about 400 specialists in financial and accountancy domains. Higher level jobs, combined with language skills. This was not easy at all, and finally the response came from creating the three-pillar structure," Bratu added.
"The first pillar consists of how we approach future candidates, structuring the message to them about the future and how to approach these types of jobs and what their future will look like. The second pillar is about creating the pipeline for future employment, a substantial number of candidates passing through a series of tests which will form a large number of new potential employees, and the third is about professional development: we're taking the employees back to school to serve our clients. One thing I have to insist upon is that we allow our colleagues to structure and choose their future careers," Bratu said.
He also said that talent comes from everywhere- not only from people with economic studies, but also from philosophy, literature and other domains.
Also, joining the ABSL offered Genpact the education lead, and the company contributed to the new master program at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, which will create better awareness towards the industry and creating new professionals for this domain.
"It is a bet that we and other companies have taken over, as we offer also case studies and we are also supporting with case studies this area, and we also assumed the obligation to offer jobs to the graduates of this master's programme, especially offering them professional practice training."
"There are small steps taken (towards education) until today, but the industry was correspondingly smaller until recently. Today we think we're enjoying more and more awareness growth, and the representatives of civil society and the government and academic environment will create this dialogue, this development environment for the industry, and I'm glad to see that these signs of development are there," Bratu said.
We need more education plans
The event benefited from an exquisite moderation from Andrei Romanescu, former leader of the local HP Global Business Center and now a mentor for go-getters.
"The 60,000 workers in the industry represent about two per cent of the active private labour force of Romania. It is an industry that brought Romania up in the world. We may not realize that the success of this industry is also related to us, to all the industry members," Romanescu said.
While the first panel discussed local education, Varujan Pambuccian, member of the Chamber of Deputies IT&C Commission, fears that technology is laying people off, and states that Romania needs a different type of predictive education.
"The Romanian education system must be headed towards the environment which we anticipate with a vast probability, may be approaching," Pambuccian said, explaining that high-schools should educate professionals for the outsourced services industry directly, as it happens in other countries, and should put more accent to practical training.
"I read a book by Harari, saying that if the first industrial revolution resulted with the working class, which disappeared [in the second], the third industrial revolution comes with the class of useless people. It is probably the biggest problem with which the nations will be confronted in the near future. There are states that try to solve this at political levels: technology fires people and does not create new jobs. We must think and model our educational system towards what we think, with a large probability, will follow next," Pambuccian said.
Employees must be prepared for the new terms, to be ready, prepared and available online or ready for mobility.
"We must adapt our education system, unfortunately, we are still reactive and we await to see what is happening in other parts of the world and we react," Bratu added.
"Mobility is important and useful only if we look at countries where it is something usual," said Ionut Anica-Popa, Director, Department of Relations with Socio-Economic Environment, Bucharest University of Economic Studies, ASE.
As commuting between cities in Romania is a very infrequent phenomenon, "there's a tremendous pressure on Bucharest from employers and the cost side, as universities only produce a fixed number of graduates each year, while industry needs grow," Anica said.
"We must develop other areas within the country, to relieve the pressure on larger cities for employment and related payment in this industry. We, the universities, deliver a constant number of graduates each year. If the business services industry can be encouraged to go to smaller cities as well, this would also relieve the pressure on large cities and also develop those areas, too," Anica added.
"In other countries, such as Holland, we work with high-school graduates, who are covering the so-called ‘clerk jobs'," also said Bratu.
ABSL launched a new master program in partnership with ASE, covering 75 positions within the first year. Elsewhere, ABSL also launched a series of regional business mixers and conferences in Bucharest, Cluj, Brasov, Constanta, Craiova and Timisoara.
While ACCA contributed to the ASE master curriculum and partners with universities in Iasi, Timisoara and Cluj, ACCA has adopted an open-door policy for students, says Mihaela Robu, Acting head of ACCA – South-Eastern Europe.
"Since 1990, we say Romania has a cheap labour force. We must change this paradigm and say we have a valuable work force. And we should not wait for the state to react. The state doesn't have any money. The civil business society, the companies must be more involved in education," added Sebastian Vaduva, president of The informal School of IT.
Pambuccian also referred to the 500-million Euro five-year programme for education in new additive manufacturing he proposed to the government, to the wonders that the technology revolution has brought in, and how we must prepare to be rendered useless and adapt to it.
"We must adapt, to see what the labour market demands will be during the upcoming years…Unfortunately, we are still reactive, waiting to see what happens," Vaduva said.
In many Western countries job demands are filled by high school graduates, while in Romania only bachelor degree graduates can fill in most of the first level industry positions. So Romanian education, including high-schools, must be better prepared to face the new industry demands, Bratu said.
Also, ACCA partners with the economic environment for many years with bachelor or master –level programs, said Mihaela Robu, head of ACCA – South-Eastern Europe.
"ACCA and the academic environment partnership is not very well known, but we enjoy a lot of opening from ASE; we have met flexibility and interest, and understanding of the fact that an academic program will be better for students and employers if it counts in practical elements. We also have enjoyed openness from other universities, such as those in Iasi and Cluj," Robu said.
And maybe the students′ current trend is to leave for abroad, but creating more and more such programs may lure in more investments and encourage students to stay.
"We try to work as much as possible with the business environment, including with ABSL, as this outsourcing and service sharing industry is very important to us. We organized open-door events for students who can then foresee their future perspective and better position themselves for the future," Robu said.
The current education system was created in the nineteenth century, as Ken Robinson says, and it produces people who are used to listening and waiting for instructions, said Sebastian Vaduva, president of The informal School of IT.
"We need intra-preneurs, people that have positive attitudes and are problem-solvers. We are, as a nation, enjoying the characteristics of placing emphasis not on talent, but on being managers, because the educational system we inherited from the 19th century only focuses on technical preparations," said Vaduva.
One of the issues is that Romania has been promoting itself as a cheap labour force, whereas it should be promoting itself as a valuable employee repository.
"Who should do something in this regard? Not the state, as the state suffers from lack of financing. We wrote a book about it, as the role is that of what we called ‘the Social Business Society'. The company has the responsibility to create its own university and training centres," Vaduva said.
HR talent management: the challenges of attraction, retention and motivation
Amalia Sterescu, CEO, Outsourcing Advisers, founder of Public Speaking School, opened the second session urging the empowering of the HR training communities.
"While reading a Human Resources Society study, which revealed that during the next decade the challenges of the human resources managers will be developing the leaders, ensuring a collaborative environment, assuring a better communication between leaders and a better responsibility, I was thinking that HR managers have a lot on their shoulders," said Sterescu. "The key question is: who is developing the HR manager? …Besides business objectives, HR managers have a huge responsibility, to create future leaders that will support this industry in Romania," Sterescu said.
As such, the HR managers must leave their normal patterns and continuously adapt, she added.
"HRs need to function within communities. Many times we find answers to our issues there, we don't need to reinvent the wheel. Many times we make development plans for others, but how many times do we create development plans for ourselves and stick to the two or three KPIs within them during the years?" Sterescu added.
Roxana Tesiu, Europe HR head at Wipro Technologies, said the company is undergoing a transforming process for its Europe HR, and it will reposition its HR strategy.
"I am proud of our team, which had a very low personnel fluctuation during past years…I realized that we need to reinvent ourselves. We can offer solutions to our CEO, instead of demanding," said Tesiu.
Wipro′s average team age is 27, but the HR function has a sum of generations to manage. "The X generation has values and life principles totally different from the Y generation. The X managers have the Y generation underneath - an adaptable, passive generation, with its own protection mechanisms based on a lack of rules adoption. We must stimulate the intra-preneur dimension within this generation. We can reinvent HR in many detailed things, such as adopting tasks from the entrepreneurial arena," said Tesiu.
HR has an important role, especially when negotiating with the hiring managers. "This is a moment when the hiring manager can reposition himself. It is extremely important to the power of the HR function to be able to go back and renegotiate the profiles demanded. The current generation is not exactly a la carte…But it helps us reinvent ourselves," Tesiu added.
The current generation is passive, expects a lot from others and protects itself by reserving the right to choose. "As an example of repositioning the engagement level, we made a study on offering diplomas for recognition at three months, six months and one year. But the current generation Y needs appraisals now! As it does not have long term plans, I see they are asking for instant feedback… We must offer continuous active role-structuring in engagement programmes," Tesiu said.
While newer generations prefer fun, innovative companies, they prefer companies that adapt to their needs, and which also respect their ethics, also Sterescu explains.
Catalina Magui, deputy head of HR SSC at Societe Generale European Business Services, admits "we must not remain locked into using 25-year old methods", when it comes to compensations and benefits, in order to keep track with newer generations.
"I bet our parents faced the same problems; we must adapt, to what we witness in our companies and in our day to day lives," said Magui.
As compensation and benefit packages change, companies must also adapt their strategies.
"It is very important to have these compensation and benefits plans, and it is obvious that an unfair package is a major demotivating element. But once we fix this issue, everything is not enough anymore. There are studies showing that the recognition of personal and professional performances bring in a more important motivational factor than material retribution," said Magui.
Key is bringing the motivational pool to intrinsic factors.
"We expect a lot from HRs. But what do the managers do to motivate these people? A simple thank you may bring in a larger motivation than the material one. The material compensation is expected, something considered normal that goes away fast. Of course a simple ‘Thank you' does not bring in motivation on longer term. But if it is done when it must, in public if needed - we were speaking about newer generations - they are very proud to be mentioned publicly, within the team," added Magui.
At the same time, Crina Ilie, vice president, Human Resources, Genpact Europe, said that there's no such thing as unrealistic expectations from the newer generations, but just incorrect HR dialogue approaches.
"During my first recruitment years I received the basis that defines me still. There are no candidates with unrealistic expectations. But just HR discussions not so well led. When we talk about people there are no recipes. We are hiring 800 to 1,000 people each year, 80 per cent of which are beginners to this industry. We form local and international talent… and I cannot say that I must reinvent myself, as the business reinvents continuously," said Ilie.
"For me, most of the satisfaction today is given by honest, profound conversations that I had with people during my career. What we can do as HR professionals is be honest. In a conversation which displays honesty and care for the one in front of you, most of the time - from my experience - this leads to a positive end," Ilie explained.
Genpact did not enter the salary spiral, and hiring 1,000 people a year means a lot of training. The company formed local and international talents within the industry. But Genpact spun off from General Electric and some of the inherited culture in talent and leadership development helped a lot, she explains.
"First thing you do when you come to our company's HR department is not spend time with your colleagues, but meeting the business leaders. The first one on one must be done with a business leader…It all depends on a certain culture, but also on our willingness to give up mechanics…The HR mechanic is a must-have, but what differentiates us and makes us successful is the availability of being consultants, to work ‘together with' (someone), rather than ‘for' (someone)," Ilie said.
Diana Bocaneala, CEE Head of people Development and Recruitment, Endava, said we should look more at people as humans. While candidates come with certain expectations to job interviews, their expectations are set by companies' culture that cannot be changed. "Endava also does not fall into the salary spiral, and we do not attract people that are motivated extrinsically," Bocaneala said.
At the same time, the role of gratification increased with the newer generation of personnel, said Andreea Paun, Associate Director Office Agency, Colliers International Romania.
"Fun at work is the new trend. Many corporations do not feel that way, but HRs are more vocal lately," she said.
A new energy at the office, and international trends may be observed by HRs, who are CEOs business partners and make proposals. "The new generation is concentrated on gratification. How does the office respond to this? By offering mobility and the sensation that you can access the office from anywhere," Paun said. She offered the example of King, the game producer of Candy Crush Saga, that created an office not only with game facilities, but also Segway and skaters′ special paths, while workspaces booths are not split by conventional materials, but of wood taken from the forest floor.
"Besides money, to attract employees, you must be a differentiator," said Andreea Paun.
Also, working from home or bringing your device to work helps stimulate the employees, said Andreea Suciu, head of Employment & Pension Dept., Noerr.
"The new BYOD concept, or bring your own device, promoted by US employers, states that the employees use at work their own devices, combining work with personal interest," said Suciu. That system not only increase productivity, but generates extra hours of work, even from home.
The employee brings his own device from home, and also spends time in his own interest, but the productivity increases as the employee has the tendency to access more labour related tasks. Cost also drops, as employers need not acquire new devices. However, that implies certain security risks for some industries.
Also, working from home is important, but there are many challenges: besides legislation issues, foreign management mistrust and education-related issues were also social issues seen by managers.
As the BPS industry grows fast, HR faces a lot of issues and needs to adapt the company strategy to them. Adaptability, mobility and the proper recognition are key words, concluded the works of the HR in Shared Services and Outsourcing Forum.
Four interactive workshops
The conference continued with four simultaneous workshops. The Genpact workshop was sustained by Cristina Ulesan, assistant vice president, Human Resources, Genpact Europe: "New strategies to develop and retain talent in your organization". Societe Generale European Business Services workshop was conducted by Alexandra Olteanu, COO: "Employees value proposition".
The Wipro workshop was managed by Teodora Todoran, Strategic Leadership Development Europe/ Training at Wipro, and by Monica Grigoriu – ICF certified coach, level Professional Certified Coach: "Coaching in organizations: TARGET: Time to act on relations. Get it now!"
The fourth workshop by ACCA, led by Mihaela Robu, Acting head of ACCA – South-Eastern Europe, was titled "A new equation for talent."
Partners at the event included: Platinum partner: Genpact; Gold partners: Think Ahead ACCA, Societe Generale European Business Services and Wipro; and partners Endava, Noerr, Oregon Park, Stefanini, Omifa and ANIS, The Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest (ASE), CLUJ IT Cluster, Extind, Informal IT School and Nordis.