A PERIOD OF POSITIVE TRANSFORMATION

by Bozhidara Georgieva

In 2021, the HR field internationally and in Bulgaria is changing – https://manpower.bgfor the better

In the past year and a half we got used to talking about change. We accepted unexpected events of a global scale as part of life and we brought back from the past the worn-out wisdom about crisis as an opportunity. One of the fields that were particularly strongly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic was the labour market and HR management.

The lockdown and the distance working regime accelerated new trends in management of human resources that for years had existed as a theoretical possibility and were slowly making their way into practice.

Arguably the most visible of those was distance work. This radical change posed another important question – effectiveness. Is it possible to trust that the employees will do their job in the best possible way and within deadlines if their project manager is not around? Reality proved that in most of the cases these fears were unfounded.

Naturally, to a significant extent the HR managers were the people who made this transformation possible. They brought on their shoulders the switch to distant work and found a way to deal with their usual tasks – attraction, selection, training, motivation and retention of talents – in a completely new environment. Good company and HR managers did not waste efforts to provide their employees with the best work conditions possible.

In this task they were helped by another trend that was already gaining ground in the field for some time – digital HR management. E-signing and self-service application, automation in recruitment for available positions, virtual and distant interviews for work and trainings, gamification of training that aims to improve engagement among employees: all of these trends were already present in early 2020. But during the lockdown they became ubiquitous and are now becoming a standard tool in HR management.

We need to add to these the increased role of AI in processes such as preselection of candidates for a certain position and accumulation and analysis of large data bases (HR analytics). The first saves valuable time and efforts to the HR professionals. The second turns large data bases into concentrated, valuable information that can be used for decision making.

Unemployment was a hard side-effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, but not all spheres in economy and public life suffered equally. Some did not feel any change while others even benefited and experienced an acute need of new employees. What is the biggest challenge in front of companies in Bulgaria that want to hire and retain talents in 2021?

"In the course of the digital acceleration we are living through employers have focused not only on needed hard skills as these were their key target before the pandemic but on a mix of technical knowledge and purely human qualities such as self-discipline, stress resilience, teamwork, initiativeness and fast problem-solving," says Aleksandar Hangimana, Managing Shareholder at ManpowerGroup South-East Europe Cluster (www.manpower.bg). "When combined with talent shortage, the task to attract and retain talents becomes extremely difficult not only in Bulgaria but across the whole world."

Finding the answer to this question is a priority to each company that wants not only to remain on the market, but to prosper. For a growing number of international companies the solution that saves the day is to outsource their HR management tasks to other companies, often in another country. This allows them to free valuable resources that would be better invested in their main field of activity. The partnership with a professional HR management company that is fluent in the conditions and the laws of the local market is also crucial for such companies.

"The period is particularly challenging for consultancy companies in the sphere of HR management, but each crisis brings with it not only obstacles, but also new opportunities for development and the desire for new challenges," says Maria Filipova, Head of HR Outsourcing Services at Toro Group S, an HR consultancy company (www.torogroups.com)." During the Covid-19 pandemic professionals in HR resources management went centre-stage, their role was redefined and took its deserved leading place in organisational structure. People, their health, safety and wellbeing gained new meaning and their importance became paramount. As a result many businesses became more "human."

By all means – a positive change. It also affected another important component in the system of the labour market in 2021 – talents who seek new jobs.

We live in times of rapid transformation of the labour market. Several different generations are currently active on it – from baby boomers on the last leg of their professional development to early gen Zs making their first steps on the career ladder. Each of them has their own understanding of what they want from a job. The role of education is also changing. Established professions are disappearing and new ones emerge.

In Bulgaria, the big winners from this transformation are the people in the IT and high-tech industries. There is an acute hunger for such professionals as Bulgaria is one of Europe's hubs for outsourcing of IT and BP services, and also develops its own IT and high-tech sector. The field was among the ones that benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is highly technological and transformation to distance work had a little effect on it. Many international companies decided to move their outsourced activities from faraway Asia to closer and more predictable Europe. In Bulgaria, this caused a spike in demand of IT talents of all types. However, despite the market's hunger for them, these professionals are, too, facing some challenges on their mission to find a job where they feel well.

"The challenge for IT talents in 2021 is not finding a job that is well-paid – this is very easy. In my opinion, the biggest challenge for IT talents these days is finding a job where they belong, where they can make their individual contribution, leave their own mark and feel appreciated for it," says Dobromir Tsolyov, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Strings IT Recruitment (Sofia, 4 Iskar St, phone:+359 883 368 980, www.pullthestrings.me), a company specialised to meet IT professionals with their dream job.

Seemingly, with the right professional help by experienced firms specialising in HR services, 2021 can become the year in which companies, HR professionals and talents will find the point where their interests meet for the common good of all stakeholders.

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