Launched in 2020 and updated in 2021, the #HRSpotlight interview series is entering its third era receiving a new overhaul for 2022. Together with Romania’s top HR professionals, Business Review will continue to explore the #futureofwork and discover how great companies have balanced all the challenges of recent years, creating strong employer brands and pleasant working environments for their employees. For the first interview in the updated series, Business Review spoke with Irina Munteanu, Deputy CEO of Apa Nova.
- Starting with a bit of background, how was 2021 from an HR perspective and what were the most important actions and programs you undertook for your employees?
Regardless of the year or the economic context, Apa Nova leads a process of continuous improvement within the company, in all areas of activity, at the center of which we place our most important asset – our employees. Last year, we continued to attract young talent and professionals, with a total of 188 new colleagues joining the teams.
Also, we encouraged the internal mobility of employees who wanted to change careers, both horizontally and vertically. They had priority to fill available positions in the company, which increased their motivation, their retention, their commitment and the professionalism of the team. We have also promoted a culture of performance at work, at all levels, by defining precise objectives, for all processes, with clearly defined indicators and in correlation with the objectives of the organization.
We continue to invest in the education of the future generation, supporting internship and technical school programs.
To be sustainable in terms of human resources, we have drawn up a succession plan for the organization’s critical functions, both managerial and technical, and we have identified high-potential employees capable of taking up new professional challenges, in the short and long term. middle term. In addition, we have defined personalized individual development plans, aiming to reduce the gaps between the current capabilities of a successor and what it must be in the future.
At the same time, we have developed a coherent development program for the company’s managers, aimed at improving their personal, professional and leadership skills.
In order to help each employee to continue their development in a flexible way, we have digitized the training process by launching an e-learning platform which offers more than 600 personal and professional development paths, accessible to all our employees. Additionally, we launched an automated system that helps staff manage work scheduling, delegations, requests and approvals.
In order to ensure the external competitiveness and internal fairness of our company, we have set up a
new compensation and benefits strategy, based on a modern analysis of salary surveys, adapted to current needs and context.
Based on the planned strategic investments in the coming years, Apa Nova has drawn up a recruitment plan, with the aim of attracting approximately 100 new employees, such as: project managers, specialists, engineers, professionals, technical and support.
- Employee wellbeing is no longer seen as a benefit, so how can employers and HR managers take this concept to new heights and become more involved in the personal wellbeing of their employees?
The well-being of our employees has always been a priority for us, a key factor determining the long-term success and effectiveness of the organization. For this reason, we devote a great deal of effort to ensuring that Apa Nova is a pleasant place to work, from the point of view of safety and atmosphere in the workplace, relations with employees, financial stability, performance recognition, flexibility, development, and growth opportunities. We also encourage proactive initiatives, open communication and continuous feedback which create a positive and productive atmosphere, a healthy organizational culture.
Also, years ago, we rethought the involvement of our employees and developed a work environment centered on them. We reconsidered our definition of visibility in the workplace, recognizing performance, building mutual trust and maximizing everyone’s potential. In the end, all for our high performing employees should feel fully appreciated, as they deserve, for the extraordinary consistent efforts.
The social benefits budget has increased significantly in recent years, by increasing the amounts of medical benefits for both employees and relatives, the payment of rest and care tickets, meal and gift vouchers, bonuses offered on various occasions , or book rental subscriptions. As we will continue to hire new employees also in the coming months, we have enhanced our onboarding program to provide all the support, information, tools and networking necessary for a smooth integration into our corporate culture. .
- We can’t talk about #futureofwork without talking about the future workplace. Is it gonna be back to the office or WFH? What is the impact of teleworking on HR activities?
Apa Nova is by definition an operational company, and the teams are divided between remote work and on-site work. Obviously, the way of working has changed considerably over the last 2 years, and we have adapted, promoting a flexible teleworking schedule which will also continue in the future.
As we needed to increase flexibility in the workplace, we implemented a flexible office pilot program for office spaces. In advance, any employee can choose to book an available desk and we plan to expand this program to other company locations in the future.
- Recent studies show that many employees expect their employer, and the company in general, to be a force for good in society. How involved are your employees in your CSR and sustainability programs and what are you doing to increase this involvement?
Our Group OBJECTIVE is to become “champions of ecological transformation” and our OBJECTIVE is to have a positive IMPACT on five areas of development: human resources, social, commercial, environmental and financial.
As part of our social responsibility, we invest in the education of the future by supporting work-study vocational training and setting up successful internship programs for students. Coordinated with other human resources projects, we also use these programs for the rejuvenation of our staff, an effective strategy for identifying and attracting the young talents that any organization needs. From 2018, Apa Nova supported a class of 24 students from Lycée Technique Anghel Saligny, through a partnership with the Ministry of National Education and we continued to do so in the years that followed. Currently, we are supporting the educational process of 48 vocational training students, providing them with financial, educational and vocational guidance support.
Our company continuously invests in the education and career development of young people. Last year, Apa Nova joined the Edu Networks program, as a strategic partner, throughout the program, so that almost 7,000 children from 15 schools in the Bucharest – Ilfov region benefited from an education modern.
- Summarizing the previous questions and adding information that may not have been covered thus far, what are the most important trends that HR leaders will be focusing on in 2022 (and beyond)?
The world, customer needs and workplace operations have changed a lot in recent years. In general, there is a need to reshape the organizational culture, which must adapt to new challenges and the constantly changing business reality.
Now more than ever, HR leaders need to motivate their teams and align their reps around common goals and long-term strategies, but at the same time they need to identify, attract and retain critical skills and rethink the work environment. work to energize the employee value proposition and drive business performance.