Developing higher value-added services by human values

HR

Hédi Major

Hédi Major, the HR director at the Hungarian business of the Stuttgart-based automotive and manufacturing service provider Leadec, talks with the Budapest Business Journal about the human resource challenges and opportunities facing the company.

BBJ: You are an automotive industry service provider with an SSC in Hungary. What is your headcount, and how easy is it to find staff?

Hédi Major: Leadec employs 600 colleagues in Hungary, and we are part of the bigger Leadec family of 20,000 employees. The unique feature of our operation is that we are currently located in eight different cities throughout the country. As we provide a wide range of services (such as production maintenance, facility management of industrial plants, technical cleaning, logistics, and electrical- and steel construction) directly at our customers’ plants, the number of working locations is actually a lot more. This means that the open positions we are searching for vary significantly regarding location, level and job content; that brings quite a challenge.

In March 2020, we started to build our in-house service center, which provides operational services for the sites in Germany in procurement, purchasing administration, payroll preparation and accounting. Our SSC, which has grown to 60 employees, is set for further expansion, with the integration of additional countries starting soon.

Nowadays, companies tend to complain about how difficult it is to find staff, which is true if we compare the labor market situation to how it was 15 years ago. Undoubtedly, some jobs are harder to fill; these are highly skilled, experienced technician positions. Still, there are positions for which it is relatively easy to find competent people with excellent skills; I am talking primarily about white-collar and administrative roles here.

BBJ: How long, on average, does it take to fill a position?

HM: On average, it takes us approximately 2.8 months to fill our open positions; the usual 30-days termination period is included in that figure. Taking the labor market situation into account, we try to be fast as far as our recruitment process is concerned. When we find someone we would like to work with, we decide quickly and provide an offer within a day.

BBJ: You provide services across eight different areas. Are there any particular fields where it is harder to fill posts?

HM: Certainly. Less industrialized areas of the country, where there are a low number of companies nearby, are usually more challenging when you are trying to find skilled blue-collar people as people live mostly from agriculture, for example. On the other hand, we are also present in highly industrialized areas where competition in the labor market is very strong. Regions alongside the western border are also difficult due to the attractive conditions abroad.

BBJ: Do you use atypical employment at all, perhaps in your SSC, or is your work the more traditional clock-in shifts?

HM: Most of our employees who provide services at the plant of the customer work in a three or continuous (12-hour) shift model; this is as required by the client. We can be more flexible regarding work time with our white-collar community, many of whom can work partially from home. Our SSC slightly differs from the operational areas; its work is more digitalized, and that gives the opportunity for a higher home office ratio.

BBJ: Are you exploring alternative labor supplies, such as returning mothers, the Roma, the disabled, or foreign workers?

HM: To look for the “ordinary” employee only is not an option anymore. We continuously review how we can widen the range and target special employee groups that can be integrated into our company well. In our SSC, for example, we have specifically been searching for part-time employees and mothers returning to the labor market, and I think we have found very loyal employees. In our management team, the ratio of women is close to 40% and all are mothers. We have good experiences with young employees entering the labor market straight from high school or university. Also, we are trying to attract retired people who are still active and willing to work part-time. With these good examples, we can demonstrate the flexibility and openness of our organization.

BBJ: What could the government do to make recruitment easier for you?

HM: I think this is not really a political or governmental issue. Several factors lead to the labor shortage we are experiencing nowadays. The world, the economy, the view of people, and demographics have changed a lot, and we must be creative to make our business successful, even when the circumstances are changing. We need to differentiate ourselves and offer something others do not have.

BBJ: Is staff retention an issue?

HM: Retention is always on the agenda. But not because the fluctuation is high or because it is difficult to find people. It’s essential since we do not have a physical product to sell. When you are in the service business, the most important value you have is your colleagues. Without them, we would not be able to provide high-quality services to our clients. This is why we believe in human values, have a loyalty program, provide aid, etc. And if a colleague is in a difficult situation, and there is something we can do for them, we try to help as a company or as a private person.

BBJ: How is wage inflation hitting your bottom line? Are you able to meet salary expectations, or is that becoming a struggle?

HM: This phenomenon has a direct impact on the business. Recently, it is not easy to keep the balance between expectations from the labor market and our current wage structure. However, we have a business strategy to move towards higher value-added services. We are on a good path to follow that, and this way, we will continue to be a successful and profitable company, even if the labor costs are higher.

This article was first published in Top HR Business Executives in Hungary 2022.

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