HR World Magazine No6 Authenticity

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IMPRESSUM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Nevena Stanisavljević EDITORS Aleksandra Fuštić Milica Kostić MANAGING EDITOR Tamara Jeremić CONTRIBUTORS Steve Usher, Luka Babić, Ivan Stefanović, Pedro Gajić, Ivana Barbara Turkalj, Ivan Marković, Anja Mučenski, Nataša Stamenković, Tijana Kovačević, Miljana Šundić, Vanja Jakovljević, Sofija Jovanović, Uroš Mitić, Ivana Canić and others CONTRIBUTING EDITORS & STAFF Katarina Đorđević, Marija Todorović, Jovana Manić, Danijela Selenić, Tamara Grbić, Ružica Stamenković, Maša Vlahović, Filip Lazarević, Milana Vračar, Nataša Leković, Nataša Timotijević, Slađana Trikić, Danica Ristić PHOTOGRAPHY Unsplash, Freepik, ShutterStock DESIGN Belpak LLC, Belgrade Polovinas design studio, Belgrade PRINT Belpak LLC, Belgrade 2.000 copies PUBLISHER HR WORLD LLC PUBLICATION Twice per year Half year edition CIP - Cataloguing in publication, The National Library of Serbia, Belgrade 005.96 HR World : better HR for a better world / Editor-in-Chief Nevena Stanisavljević. - 2019, no. 1 (apr.)- . - Belgrade : HR World, 2019(Belgrade : Caligraph). - 27 cm Quarterly. ISSN 2620-2859 = HR World COBISS.SR-ID 276133644

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“I can only show you the door, but you are the one who must go through them.” Morpheus, The Matrix (1999)

ARE YOU READY TO PLAY THE GAME_ You probably heard me say HR and business should become one and HR is THE core business function countless times. If HR is a strategic business function, where does its authenticity stem from? What makes it different from other functions occupying that influential strategic table? Being an authentic person seems simple, honest, comfortable. Tho personal authenticity isn’t achieved easily in this sea of “sameness”, it certainly comes more naturally than authentically performing a business function. After all, you are who you are. At least you have your very own tone of voice, an aquiline nose, you are “the one who wears nothing but black” or the one whose belting laughter shatters crystal. But what about the authenticity of a company or a function? Exceptional young people come to our organization. Here’s what I hear them say - I’m a people person... that’s why I want to work in HR. What does it even mean? I like working with people, I’m good with people, I build relationships easily ... No. Honestly, I don’t want to reduce human resources, an essential strategic player, to a function that is “just good with people”. Fair enough - HR knows people, even further - HR understands stakeholder management. HR recognizes and fully supports stakeholders, knows how to approach them, speaks their language, identifies their needs, and the opportunities and trends that serve those needs. HR is THE leader.

Now we can talk about the authenticity of HR as a function. HR is the conductor. HR is an inspiring business leader. HR is a person of integrity who leads by example and cares about people - that they arrive at the right career place, that they develop themselves in line with business and their team’s needs while valuing their affinities and keeping them motivated and engaged. And all this with a singular goal in mind - achieving supreme results while maximizing employee satisfaction. Ok, it’s fair to say HR is a superhero :) Being a hardcore Matrix fan, I would even go as far as to say HR is Neo, defending the organization in times of radical transformation. The One with unique inside information that keeps everything together. Is HR “the One” who catches the essence and helps it spread and evolve? Yes. Expectations are sometimes gargantuan and often inconsistent with what HR has at its disposal. No news on that front today. However, for what tomorrow brings we must all work together. Let’s drag a layer of business over our experience and acumen - shift identity, but retain authenticity. Again, the question remains for each of us - Am I ready to play the game? Nevena Stanisavljević Editor-In-Chief

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Aleksandra Fuštić, Community Manager, Montenegro HR Community Milica Kostić, Communications Manager, HR World

COMMUNITY AS AN HR TOOL: Do you know how to use it? 6 | HR World 06 | November 2021


Not so long ago, in order to retain existing workers and make themselves more attractive to new talents, companies started creating a culture that cherishes employee individuality. The increasing involvement of HR in company success helped the design of such culture along with activities and policies that support the individualism and authenticity of each employee. This brought huge success to many companies by reducing their turnover rates and improving hiring statistics.

that nurtures the culture of having a community. They want to support and be a part of actions that connect them with their colleagues even more.

But, what if there was a way for HRs to design such a culture that celebrates collective culture rather than just focusing on individuals? What if there was a powerful HR initiative that can be used to bring together all employees to have a clear clarity, purpose and be engaged and self-driven to strengthen the company and provide better support and, at the same time, to create strong bonds with people outside the company in order to have a better candidate pool?

The power of community has long been used by successful companies to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty, improve outcomes, and understand customers. To achieve this, organizations have been going above and beyond their realms to gather experts and customers around their new and existing products and services, not only within non-obligatory networks, but within real engaged communities.

THERE IS AN ACTUAL TOOL. IT’S CALLED COMMUNITY. Creating community in a workplace is a good way to bring all employees closer for the greater good. Having communities in a company means uniting employees for something more rather than just work. People want to feel engaged, inspired and proud to be working in a place

Re-engaging with employees has never been more important, especially now when the battle for talents is hard. The competition is getting bigger and employees need a better work environment, conditions, more diverse culture, and, most of all, higher purpose.

Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, captured the essence of the community in a beautiful way stating that their studio achieved their success thanks to its “vibrant community where talented people are loyal to one another and their collective work, everyone feels that they are part of something extraordinary, and their passion and accomplishments make the community a magnet for talented people coming out of schools or working at other places.”


IF THERE IS ONE THING TO PREDICT ABOUT COMPANIES - IT IS FOR CERTAIN THAT COMMUNITIES ARE THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE OF ALL BUSINESSES, BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE COMPANIES. Starbucks has one of the most active community members in the world, counting over 150.000 coffee enthusiasts, whose ideas in the past 6 years have led to nearly 300 innovations being implemented, such as innovative tastes, digital tipping, free WiFi in their cafés and even bringing the pumpkin spice season months in advance. Each and every idea posted on the My Starbucks Idea website is taken into account, valued and its influence in the innovation process publicly complemented by the company’s representatives, which adds an extra value to the community members and shows that they are being listened to and sparks in them an even greater drive to contribute to the brand’s success. What better way to enjoy a product than being able to actively participate in its development, which a Dutch company’s Lego Ideas Community gives its customers the power of. In order to encourage inspirational product creation, Lego created a strong community which gathers fans from all around the world to exchange ideas, support each other, share their creations, choose what they want to see on the shelves next, and even compete in contests to become a Lego Fan Designer. Started as an energy drink in 1987, Red Bull soon became the most dominant energy drink whose name is nowadays more associated with adrenaline driven sports and events, endurance and wings than the

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drink itself. Thanks to its power of social networking, sponsorship and the adjustment of its marketing strategy, Red Bull keeps its fans informed of different events and builds closer relationships with its customers and makes it a great example of how to lead a successful brand community. Salesforce’s innovative on-demand software was not the only stem of the company’s success, but also its community of 2 million international members who support its success by creating content, organizing events, and supporting each other through relationship building. Brand loyalty, awareness and overall success of a company can all be built via engaged communities. Either online or in-person, they can lead to improved products, learning and innovation, as well as company growth. Although, in order for them to have an impact, communities should be built so that they go beyond selling a product, but provide value and support for members. When creating a community-led growth strategy for a company, bear in mind that it is not the only growth strategy, but actually is a welcome side effect of all the previous strategies led. A clear purpose of the company is crucial for its success, and should be strong enough for

users to decide to join and contribute. The greatest motivating force a professional can feel is contributing to a shared mission, and communities allow for that shared accountability while securing individual autonomy. How and where a community is built is also an important question to be addressed and should be suited to its purpose, but does not need to be grown on one channel only. The fastest way to gather a community is through various online channels (YouTube - for creating and discussing tutorials and guides, LinkedIn and Twitter - for sharing opinions, GitHub and Slack - for collaboration and sharing work, newsletters - for keeping up to date), but in-person events and conferences can still provide a rich opportunity for networking and gathering ideas. However, having an online gathering platform of its own would ensure an abundance of benefits for companies, such as generating data, increased traffic to the website, moderating the page and having control over the content, integrating the community with other tools they use. The greatest perk of online platforms is that no matter where in the world brands and users are based, they allow for stronger relationships to be developed. The power of online communities can be felt in recent years quite intensely, as they


not only help direct the brand towards the needs and desires of their customers, but also give a more authentic note to the user-generated content (reviews and comments). Communities are engaging and creating content around a company’s product continuously, which is reflected in 97% of online purchases being made based on the reviews left. Recommendations do build sales, but it is the feedback that helps create better products, improve customer support and onboard new users. In order to foster the community which gathers around your brand, and ensure its loyalty and prosperity, certain unwritten rules should be considered: 1. Let their voices be heard - whether it is through authorship of blog or magazine articles, posts on social media, hosting or presenting in video content, have them experience the sense of being thought leaders, while you educate and build your community. 2. Listen to your audience and implement their words into your own brand language. By blending your company’s name and specific phrases to make new parts of speech to be used in an everyday situation you increase a chance for strengthening your brand. Research has shown that customers feel a greater sense of loyalty and belonging when they see that they are actively contributing to the brand’s growth. 3. Take a moment and think whether you would stand up for something with a clear purpose of existence or the one no one understands its meaning. Chances are you would pick the prior, just like your customers. So when building a brand, always make sure its purpose is clear to everyone - once the community members see that you go beyond their wallets, but actually care about them, they would stand by you without thinking.

4. Once your business starts thriving, do not start neglecting your community members - award their loyalty and show them that you are there for them as much as they are there for you. Reward them with more powerful community roles, include them in your content, invite them to speak at events, have them test early versions of your products, mention their contribution every time it leads to a great change in your company. It might seem that it is only the customers and brand enthusiasts that create communities, write about them, recommend them and defend against your competitors’ advocates. The truth is that they could, but need not necessarily be the only and greatest ambassadors of your company. Whether you are asking yourself now who if not the customers can better speak up for your products and services, you might need to take a moment and think about your company’s culture, as it is the employees that make the best brand ambassadors.

SO, CREATING A COMMUNITY WITHIN YOUR COMPANY SOUNDS LIKE AN INTERESTING IDEA? Here’s the hard truth - it’s not easy creating it from scratch. But here’s something encouraging - it is the foreseeable future of all businesses. It is happening already and if companies are not thinking about creating it yet, they better start now before they later feel the value it could have brought, with regret. As the saying goes - there’s no worth in crying over spilled milk or disengaged employees, because communities should also be created within organizations. And it is not only about having engaged but also committed employees who will happily put in extra work if needed, find their work meaningful and be inspired by seeing their colleagues being committed and driven.

How to create a community then? TRUST Belonging to a community of people who share the same vision and values is one of the most important needs for every employee. Such need cannot exist in a toxic environment where employees are treated as replaceable, pressured to work extra hours in order to prove themselves as good workers, treated unequally and unfairly, not being given appreciation, being blamed for every minor mistake...This says that the employees are not trusted and are expected only to work and feel privileged that they have a job at all. If a company has the tendency to practice some of these actions and treat employees like this - this calls for change. A community of inspired and engaged employees cannot flourish in such an environment. In order to create a sustainable community, employees need to be shown that they are valued, trusted and appreciated. It does not only come from benefits and prizes, as expected. It can be shown through respectable communication, a problem-solving approach instead of reduction in their salaries, encouraging them to share ideas,



THERE IS NO COMMUNITY WITHOUT PEOPLE. IT IS NOT ENOUGH ONLY TO CREATE AWESOME MARKETING CAMPAIGNS AND POST PHOTOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA TO MAKE EMPLOYEES AWARE THEY ARE A PART OF THE COMMUNITY. putting reasonable deadlines and talking with them about how to make this culture even better. By being participants rather than just rule-followers, the employees already feel valuable and trusted. CREATING TOGETHER An HR or CEO cannot just decide to create a community and inform the employees that now they are a part of it. A strong community needs solid ground. It starts with the survey. Companies should ask their employees what matters to them whether it is related to work or not. Do they have the need to connect with their peers who work in subsidiaries over the country or in other countries, to share knowledge and learn from each other? Do they feel the need to be a part of the company who takes its social responsibility seriously and wants to engage in more volunteer activities or charity events?

Physical space The first one, as the most important one, to mention. Before engaging in events and volunteering activities, the companies should have a physical place where employees can meet daily and chat, share experiences and have a coffee. They may be called “a company’s coffee space”. It is important that the employees know there is actually a space where they can meet their colleagues and bond. Intranet The other best way to contribute to having a strong workplace community is to have an intranet - a computer network for sharing information among employees. Companies shouldn’t just share company news. This calls for creativity! Intranet can be used to share the stories of employees. Some companies hire a professional writer to interview their employees and share their stories there. This helps their workers who work in different cities to get to know each other as if they are sharing the same physical space. Now, together, all of them have a sense of belonging to the community, even though they do not see each other everyday in the same offices.

True value of a community lies in creating it together and creating the feeling of ownership.

Intranet allows people to be super creative with the content through sharing office news in a fun and exciting way, creating intracompany competitions whether it is about the best blog, best vacation photo, best tips from work, best practices etc. Also, it allows them to create the content that will engage and invite the employees to post, comment and share through these competitions, Q&A sessions, discussions etc. One thing to bear in mind - posts with images produce 180% more content! This is a sign to enforce visual content. The intranet nowadays is one of the best ways to make a remote workforce also feel engaged and have a sense of belonging to a community.

BOND A strong community is supposed to make people bond. There are numerous activities to achieve this:

Events Communities can also be created and strengthened by hosting events that invite employees to participate. Companies can

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create multiple mini-communities within a large one by creating sports events for employees who are fans of fitness, healthy lifestyle and are into sports competitions. Besides this, they can create events that will support their social responsibility and invite employees to donate or volunteer. Those could be charitable events or the ones to support the environment or something else. As a result, after participating in these kinds of events, the employees will have a stronger connection, will feel united in purpose and interests and will be inspired to give additional value to the company. Promotion There is no community without people. It is not enough only to create awesome marketing campaigns and post photos on social media to make employees aware they are a part of the community. This should also be shown within the offices. A good idea is to choose a “community wall” to hang pictures from events where they gather, spontaneous moments from the kitchen where they’re drinking coffee, proudest moments from volunteering activities... One thing to remember here - people stay for the people and for the common purpose and interests. According to the Gusto report “Community at work”, over half of employees (54%) have stayed at a job longer than their best interest due to a strong sense of belonging and community. If there is one thing to predict about companies - it is for certain that communities are the foreseeable future of all businesses, both inside and outside companies.



COVER AS AN OEUVRE D’ART Jovana Tomić, Co-founder, Krîvā Art

Artikoolacije project was conceived at the aforementioned tech company as a part of their efforts to help young artists promote and sell their artwork. At the same time, their offices got ‘redecorated’ and refreshed every two months, showcasing over 60 pieces from different artists. During 2019, four exhibitions took place with over 20 artists, who presented more than 250 oeuvres. The project proved to be a success and at the end of its first year, it was generously handed over to a newly founded arts organization – Krîvā. The greater goal was to make it possible for Artikoolacije to develop and grow in other IT companies as well, connecting individuals from two diverse worlds: arts and tech.

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smiles as she already had in mind the right people to contact. I encourage you to tell Nevena something is impossible, and she will surely find more than one way to prove you wrong.

While preparing the third issue of the HR World magazine, Nevena, the founder of HR World, had the craziest idea – to gather young artists and ask them to design the cover for this edition. When I say “design”, I mean in analogue terms. When she pitched her idea during a team meeting, she was laughed at and the idea was discarded as an infeasible one. What her team didn’t know is that the word “impossible” doesn’t exist in Nevena’s vocabulary. She didn’t mind provoking a few doubtful

Obsessed with the idea of having 100 different covers of the magazine hand-painted by young artists, Nevena recalled that the HOOLOOVOO company promoted a project called “Artikoolacije” in 2019, and in a matter of minutes she had Nikola, their Marketing Director, on the phone. Pitching to Nikola is never easy, he is brisk and tempered and always on the lookout to eliminate dubious ideas. As miracles do happen sometimes, he was thrilled with Nevena’s proposal and connected her with people who can help with finding artists and executing this brilliant pitch. This is how I got in touch with Nevena. I was well aware of the work she was doing for the HR community in Serbia at that moment, so I was happy to join the project with her. But we were in the midst of the pandemic and we knew that delivering and picking up magazines from different parts of Belgrade will be a logistical inferno of a kind. Before we had to worry about logistics, we weren’t sure

if artists will be on board with the idea, so after creating an application form and sending it out to all artists Krîvā has ever cooperated with, we were convinced by their positive feedback that we will actually have 100 covers of the third issue of the HR World magazine hand-painted. So it all started with a laugh at the idea and a number of printed blank covers in June of 2020. We have assured the participation of 50 artists from Serbia, so the above mentioned logistical inferno got worse as we were sending out magazines to those who live outside of Belgrade. The main topic of the issue was The Little Prince, inspired by Saint-Exupéry’s novella. Artists were free to interpret this topic and draw whatever they think is appropriate for a better understanding of Little Prince’s moral, depicting the magazine’s topic – purpose. The works we have received were stunning: imaginative, using different techniques, some even abstract. We closed the project by varnishing the covers to avoid leaving colour on readers’ hands and to keep artworks in a good shape. We hope the owners of the special cover edition of the HR World magazine are keeping their copies at a visible place in their offices or homes. They mean so much to us as they represent a peculiar idea, carried out with a lot of enthusiasm and belief, aiming to put smiles on people’s faces in difficult times.



Yes, you can create

a mentally healthy workplace remotely Ivana Barbara Turkalj, Chief Growth Officer, Above Academy The pandemic has certainly created some new acronyms: WFH (work from home), WFA (work from anywhere) and probably more common than anyone will admit: WFB (work from bed). Working and sleeping in the same space? That's a big no-no for the brain. But that was the last thing on anybody's mind when it was urgently recommended that employers allow people to work from home in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

THE BIG MOVE TO REMOTE WORK Implementing work from home policies at short notice was no easy task for companies that didn't already have flexible working arrangements in place. Logistics and setting up working environments came first. Everyone was going with the flow. However, as everyone was being told to stay at home, it soon became clear that the new situation was challenging and stressful. Families found themselves competing for electric sockets and bandwidth. Others

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experienced a lack of privacy, their work lives suddenly entrenching into their home lives. Isolation and loneliness due to the lack of in-person interaction became commonplace. Some started to feel like they always had to be "on" or even work more hours. The computer lurking in the corner would just beckon for attention. Or maybe work started to be done in bed, destroying already established good sleep hygiene habits. Work-life balance slowly shifted or as some would dare-say, became non-existent. Stress and burnout started to rise due to blurred boundaries. Combined with mixed emotions in an ever-changing situation, it all started to pile up. So did rates of anxiety and poor mental health (Van Ongevalle, 2021).

MENTAL HEALTH AND WORKLIFE BALANCE TOP PRIORITY FOR FIRMS Savvy HR and People professionals took note and recognized the difficulty their people were experiencing. This is


confirmed by Above Academy's Above Wellbeing Trends Report that summarizes the findings of a survey carried out on companies from across Europe about their corporate wellbeing programmes and implementation. In November 2020, the top two issues that businesses were equally addressing in their wellbeing programmes were mental health and work-life balance. Stress resilience came in a close third, with physical health (including musculoskeletal, sedentary behaviours, and healthy sitting posture) in fourth place. To clarify what exactly is mental health, we like to use the World Health Organization's definition which states that it is "a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community." It's tough even in person to recognize the signs of poor mental health, among them being behaviour, mood or lifestyle habits undergoing changes. But the nature of remote


work definitely added another dimension for employers. When communicating over the phone or a screen important body language cues can be missed. Communicating by text or email can open up the door further to mixed signals or complete lack of. Yet, regardless of where work takes place, it can be difficult to get people to speak up if they're struggling or to accept help if they need it. Reasons include it being considered taboo to ask for help, feelings of inadequacy if help is accepted, feelings of being judged, or simply just not realizing some additional support might truly be beneficial. Human touch and interaction is important when it relates to emotional and mental states, but that doesn't mean that implementing mental health and wellbeing programmes during home working situations is more difficult. There's no right or wrong in how to help your people, you know them and your company culture best. If initiatives are implemented with a true desire to help, it's felt and appreciated, even across an internet connection.

CREATING ALL STAR HEALTH CONSCIOUS COMPANIES The pandemic certainly has pushed employee mental health to the forefront. So much that it's no longer a question of do companies need mental health and wellbeing programmes, but how to implement them. And we're willing to bet you'd like some sort of road map as to how to go about it. Well, we're happy to provide some insight into our six-step continuous cycle that produces results and leads to ongoing progress. Above Academy Mental Health Programme Road Map: 1. Buy-in & Budget 2. Communication Plan 3. Assessment

4. Programme Strategy 5. Roll Out Initiatives 6. KPI Review

Buy-in & Budget Keeping a workforce mentally fit pays off. Companies who invest in workplace mental health and wellbeing programmes find they experience increased productivity, improved retention, and lower sickness, absenteeism and presenteeism rates. Programmes that specifically tackle loss-leaders are the most successful. For example, lifestyle programmes to address physical health or stress resilience programmes to address mental health. But first things first, everyone needs to be on board. Supporting healthy habits and creating a mentally healthy workplace starts at the top and trickles down. Thus it's important that upper management & HR/People departments meet to agree upon their commitment and vision. Regarding your budget, based on the research, the following sums it up: any investment, absolutely any, in mental health and wellbeing pays off. A business's biggest loss is to not invest anything at all. For every US$ 1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$ 4 in improved health and productivity (WHO, 2013).

Assessment Now it's time to collect some data. Current recommended best practice is to perform a company-wide risk assessment rather than waiting for problems to arise with employees’ health and stress levels. Assessments help kick-start your mental health and wellbeing strategy with baseline data because what is measured, is managed. You'll also get an accurate snapshot of your current business health landscape. In the long run, you'll be able to easily measure the effectiveness of your initiatives.

Programme Strategy As an employer, it's in your interest to create a strategy that has a proactive, preventative and holistic approach as well as short term, medium and long term goals. Though by all means, if assessment results point to urgent opportunities, be reactive and start to tackle them head on. Spend resources on the areas that will have the most positive impact on employee mental health and wellbeing, which directly affects both the productivity and success of the company. Middle managers deserve special mention with regards to strategy. Specifically, they generally tend to have the highest involvement with, and influence on, direct

Company Communications Plan Once a vision has been created, it's time to start openly communicating with your people to create a positive vibe around the new changes coming. Name your mental health and wellbeing programme to help it gain ground and acceptance. Include as many communication channels as possible to ensure you reach everyone and don't forget it's good employer branding and can be integrated throughout employee experience touch points.

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team management within most companies and this fact should be critically considered when designing and implementing your programme. Most recently many companies have implemented, depending on their work model: • online or in-house workshops - raising awareness about healthy lifestyle habits (sleeping, nutrition, movement) • online or in-house coaching or counselling • online or in-house meditation or mindfulness sessions • awareness campaigns about depression, anxiety, and signposting where and how to get help • home delivery of wellness and stressbusting care packages • longer lunch breaks to encourage physical activity Prior to and during the current pandemic, companies have found that health and wellbeing focused corporate retreats, such as the Recharge Programme, do wonders for boosting energy, morale and productivity.

RECHARGE PROGRAMME CASE STUDY SNAPSHOT A sixteen member sales team at a regional subsidiary of one of the world’s largest multinational financial companies was expanding vast amounts of personal energy to achieve results on a daily basis, thus affecting work-life balance, mental and physical wellbeing. Pre-programme surveys indicated that: • 94% of participants had problems with constant fatigue and exhaustion • 60% had physical pain (spine, neck, legs, arms, etc.) • 87% would like to be more resilient to stress A personalized 3-day offsite Recharge Programme implemented techniques and

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strategies, originally developed by Above Academy, that included objectives such as expanding energy, improving mental health and improving stress resilience. The results were impressive as 2 week postprogramme feedback showed that 100% of participants had: • more energy • decreased tension • better stress management • increased efficiency and productivity • overall health improvement

and then there'll be communication of the upcoming follow-up assessment.

Read about more corporate experiences with Recharge Programme:

Give yourself a pat on the back and be proud of the impact it's having on the health of your people, and the business. Thanks to your hard work, your mentally and physically happy, healthy, more productive workplace will continue to rise above, strengthen and gain more momentum.

Roll Out Initiatives Time to put it all into action. At this point stick to the strategic plan and encourage as much participation as possible. Precede each initiative with clear communications and encourage open discussion and feedback throughout. There will most likely be early adopters, those who are excited about the initiatives, while others may be reluctant or need more time. Remember one approach does not fit all.

KPI Review While it's tempting to see results right away, change takes time. It's recommended to look at performance results & KPI calculations after a year. Did sick leave absences decrease, was there less absenteeism? What about your turn over rate, any change there? How about the sales team - increased sales and productivity?

PREPARED FOR ANYTHING THE FUTURE BRINGS Upon reviewing results, it will be time to start the six-step road map again with a meeting with management. How's everyone feeling? Another round of budgeting will most likely need to be done,

There may be new people in your organization that weren't on board the prior year and the process will be new to them. Follow-up assessments are important because they specifically address the mental health of your people and allow you to compare results year-on-year to see where improvements have been made, stayed the same or in what areas people are struggling.

ABOUT ABOVE ACADEMY Above Academy brings together many years of experience in developing and implementing corporate wellbeing solutions and programmes. Through raising energy levels, capacity and stress resilience, our goal is to improve productivity and reduce sickness, absenteeism and high turnover costs, thus enriching people's mental health, quality of life and ways of working. Have a question? Please get in touch, we'd be happy to help. If you'd like a copy of the Above Wellbeing Trends Report or want to participate in our next Above Wellbeing Trends Survey please send an email to Resources 1. van Ongevalle, J. (2021, July 23). The pandemic has made mental well-being a public health must. World Economic Forum. 2. World Health Organization. (2018, March 30). Mental health: strengthening our response. World Health Organization. 3. Mental Health and Substance Use. (n.d.). Mental health in the workplace. World Health Organization. https://www.who. int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/mental-health-inthe-workplace.



Before reading this article, take a moment to reflect on the employee experiences that unfold every day in your organisation. Job applications, interviews, pre-boarding, on-boarding, performance reviews, promotions, training, return-to-work processes, hybrid working, resignations, and alumni network - there are several different, ongoing employee experiences happening at any given time. Some of these experiences will serve you very well, while others could negatively impact your brand and business reputation. This is often the difference between intentionally designed and default experiences. In 2020, we saw one of the greatest stress tests ever. The pandemic had a huge effect on a variety of these experiences, in particular employer brands and candidate experience. As a designer, I was particularly interested in observing the different approaches to what organisations were doing and how they went about doing it.


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SOME OF THE EXPERIENCES WILL SERVE YOU VERY WELL, WHILE OTHERS COULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT YOUR BRAND AND BUSINESS REPUTATION. THIS IS OFTEN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INTENTIONALLY DESIGNED AND DEFAULT EXPERIENCES. For example, the CEO of Airbnb crafted quite possibly one of the most important messages he’d ever written in his career. He was about to make 25% of his employees redundant, many of whom had been with the organisation for years. Instead, he chose humility and appreciation in how he went about this difficult decision. His choice of words reflected gratitude, and he offered to continue to support those made redundant with healthcare, training, and support. If you haven’t read the letter, I highly advise you to read it. The letter is a masterclass in leadership and empathy - a muchneeded combination in boardrooms today. Conversely, there are decisions made without any consideration of the how: a brief announcement is made, computers are locked, and (now former) employees are escorted to the exit with a piece of paper detailing a package. Zero empathy. Zero consideration for those who worked so hard for the company mission. One example was a major property company in the UK, which drew negative publicity with the headline “Inhumane sacking” after retrenching many of their employees. Not the words you’d want your brand associated with, especially now we’re in a growth market again facing an even greater shortage of talent than before. Who do you think will fare better in this growth market? A company like Airbnb, which paid careful attention to the how during unprecedented times? Absolutely.

SHIFT THE SPOTLIGHT Amongst all of this, candidate experience has yet again become a topic of conversation. It was hard to miss the increase in posts on LinkedIn from people sharing their frustrations relating to their experiences of hiring processes. There’s even a Reddit page – - where you’ll find a plethora of genuinely disturbing (and sometimes amusing) stories showcasing poorly executed hiring. One example that caught the eye was a story of a person being ghosted after a lengthy process consisting of 10+ hours of interviews and 90+ days of process only to be completely ignored with no communication making the whole thing feel like a total waste of time. Just think of the brand impact in this scenario! In December 2020, after observing this shift, we were curious to run an experiment here at 5ive Studio to understand the increase in negative sentiment. We decided to engage a diverse group of active job seekers followed by a group of in-house recruiters from around Europe. We walked through the same hiring journey with each group, but from two different perspectives, consisting of preparation, research, application, telephone and face-to-face interviews, and so on. We noticed that the industry narrative and focus was almost exclusively about the candidate experience. But when we focused on the recruiter’s perspective, we discovered there’s significantly less appreciation and consideration of the recruiter or hiring manager’s experience. After all, they’re also humans with individual needs, vulnerabilities, and challenges. With the level of emotion from the candidate group, it almost felt like a therapy session as people aired their deep frustrations. By expressing how they felt and hearing others’ experiences, they realised they weren’t alone. This highlighted that we must never underestimate the deep impact on candidates and the opportunity to create everlasting positive memories with a more intentionally designed experience. Hiring is, by nature, a linear step-by-step process supported by workflow-based applicant tracking systems and automated communications. But we can’t forget that multiple stakeholders are involved in this process, all of whom are having their own individual experiences of the process. As such, it’s vitally important that you apply effort and thought to how your hiring managers and in-house recruitment teams experience the hiring process. From the research, we also identified the importance of a close relationship between talent acquisition and hiring managers. The maturity of this relationship is critical to the outcome of so many

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COMPANIES WITH A MORE MATURE RELATIONSHIP LEVEL, WORKING STRATEGICALLY AS AN ADVISOR TO HIRING MANAGERS, WILL ALWAYS BE MORE COMPETITIVE IN HIRING TALENT. THIS WILL DELIVER BETTER CANDIDATE EXPERIENCES AND SECURE TALENT MORE EFFICIENTLY. challenges felt by candidates. A company environment that treats talent acquisition as a support function will typically be reactive and therefore lack alignment. Companies with a more mature relationship level, working strategically as an advisor to hiring managers, will always be more competitive in hiring talent. This will deliver better candidate experiences and secure talent more efficiently. These traits are observed in organisations such as Netflix. I encourage you to watch their YouTube video called “Netflix - Culture of Recruiting”. Yes, you read it right. They actually implemented a culture of recruiting, not a process of recruiting. The words they use when describing how they recruit are inspiring and a real lesson in a mature and highly effective collaboration. Then there’s The LEGO Group, which views consumers and candidates in a similar light. The global talent acquisition team, led by Eunice Clements Tweedie, has the arduous task of being the custodians of one of the world’s most loved brands when engaging and supporting candidates in the hiring process. LEGO Group has committed resources to ensure candidates receive a high-touch experience. As is the case in many organisations, when you’re rejecting a vast number of people who apply to your business, it requires you to consider how the hiring experience shapes perceptions and, ultimately, the brand. They do this by consistently listening to how people think and feel as a result of the hiring process, not only from the perspective of candidates but importantly, the global talent acquisition team’s

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and hiring managers’ perspectives. These valuable insights enable the team to monitor and maintain their high standards while identifying and rectifying issues as they arise. These examples show the importance of cultivating authentic human relationships within your organisation - which will show externally to candidates. Regardless of the huge wave of HR tech we’re currently seeing, we must protect and ensure a healthy balance is maintained between technology and human experience.

THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY The highly influential book The Experience Economy, authored by Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore in 1998, argues for something called “the progression of economic value.” As the book explains, there’s a large difference between a service and an experience. Understanding this distinction is a crucial mindset when unlocking the possibilities available when you use experiences as a key differentiator in attracting and engaging candidates in an increasingly competitive talent market. Services are delivered, customisable, and improve quality. They make things quicker, easier, and more convenient for candidates. In the world of HR and recruitment, we’re seeing this consumerization, where employees use technologies similar to the way they do as customers. An inevitable evolution and necessary to differentiate yourself in the market and increase efficiency. Experiences, by definition, are staged. They’re personal, revealed over a duration of time, and memorable. The key is to render authenticity. Creating memorable moments that reach inside of people and create connections. Finally, time is also a key factor. Services deliver “time well saved” whereas experiences focus on “time well spent.” I encourage you to remember this distinction the next time you’re exploring recruitment or HR technology for your business. The technology will improve how you interface, but it’s important to consider the moments where you’re interacting with people, typically the human element. This is where you must show up as a business to deliver an authentic experience. For designers, creating a memory at a specific moment in time can be magical. Consider your company hiring process: where are the moments that matter? Identify one or two key points in time, then intentionally design those moments so that they can become memorable experiences. This will differentiate you from other organisations and engage candidates on a completely new level.

EXPERIENCE DESIGN INSPIRATION What can we learn from the world of experience design? The World Experience Organisation (WXO), founded by James Wallman, offers a window into plenty of inspiration and examples of how the concept of the Experience Economy is being used across a variety of industries. A company called Life Celebrations Inc recently took the decision to apply the Experience Economy principles to the funeral home service business, growing their network into a major experience leader in the industry. If you’re able to take an emotional event like a funeral to a new level through experience design, I’m confident we can improve the poor levels of candidate experiences that are typically delivered. One of my favourite examples of immersive experiences is Secret Cinema, a fantastic concept where audiences watch a movie accompanied by a full production and staging of the movie. Audiences participate and immerse themselves in the staging. Secret Cinema has created some truly original events, staging movies like Back To The Future, Blade Runner, and Stranger Things. Secret Cinema enables people to immerse themselves in their favourite movies, creating memorable experiences. To put some numbers to its success, Secret Cinema has sold over 1,000,000 tickets, increased audiences 300% from 2017 to 2019, and brought in box office earnings of over $10 million. Walt Disney Studios also signed a multi-title agreement with them to tackle some of Disney’s most iconic films. I’m not suggesting we Disney-fy the candidate experience, but this example offers us plenty of lessons and inspiration to think in new ways when crafting experiences beyond a job description or career site. With an increasingly shifting workplace and the growth of hybrid working, organisations are going to be challenged to find new authentic ways to immerse future talent into their culture, purpose, and career path from remote locations. Experience design principles offer new perspectives on common problems, enabling us to envision a completely new way of using hiring experiences as a way to compete for talent, create memories that people share, and deliver an authentic glimpse into the organisation. As the brilliant Joseph Pine II puts it, the experience IS the marketing. So why not make that experience something that gets people talking about your organisation and makes you stand out in a sea of ordinary hiring processes?

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When the inner child says “ENOUGH”! Uroš Mitić, HR Consultant, Coach & Trainer, Balance Consulting

Despite the social significance and common usage of the expression “burnout” in everyday life, there is still a fierce debate among the scientists and practitioners about what is really burnout, what are its symptoms, and, is burnout a mental health problem or not. Having all that in mind, I want to be clear right from the beginning about the way we are going to refer to burnout and how it is happening. Burnout is a condition of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by too much continuous stress.

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How does one reach this condition? According to available research, we split the causes of burnout into two categories: situational and personal factors. (Bakker et al., 2014) Situational factors include various aspects of job requests (permanent stress which leads to tiredness and exhaustion, ambiguity or role conflict, short deadlines...) and the lack of personal resources for adequate job performance. Personal factors include elements of personal structures like neuroticism, external control locus, external motivation, and similar factors.

This story should start from organizational culture. We usually build it exactly on values that imply dedication, hard work, work in a challenging environment full of competition and pressure management. These messages, despite the way they are formulated and decorated on the website and noticeboard, send the message to the staff that they are OK only when they work hard and are dedicated, and that they should feel good and ready for the next assignment. So, there are no breaks, rest, tiredness, anger, rebellion... no room for anything that is out of the defined value box.

Employee organisation plays a big part in workers life, similar to the role of family for a child. In a family, the children first understand the family values, rules, what is allowed and what is not, and then they shape their behaviour to fit in that family. When we grow up, we apply similar mechanisms to fit in the peer group, school, and eventually, our place of work. This process is completely natural and deeply unconscious. Of course, people will accept and work according to these messages, it’s a natural need for people to adjust to expectations and rules from the “inner child” personality


In the previous years, burnout syndrome has been among the most common mental health problems in modern societies. In a world that is facing big socio-economic challenges, people experience more and more pressure in everyday life, especially in the workplace. As a consequence of that, managers and staff in different industries and sectors all around the world suffer from chronic stress, tiredness, and exhaustion related to work, which most prominent symptoms are called “burnout syndrome”. (Ahola et al., 2010; Kant et al., 2003; Langelaan et al,. 2006).

part. Month by month, the inner child in each of our employees will feel the need to satisfy expectations, targets, standards, and a bigger prohibition to feel tired or angry. The way they feel but don’t have the right to express it. Then, our staff start the vicious circle in which they invest all their energy to fulfil the standards that the organization has set, which implicates a bigger need to express their tiredness, anger, and need for fun, so they suppress their needs even more. Inexperienced managers usually don’t see the problem in this phase at all. The team seems dedicated to working, there

are no obvious bad feelings or expressions. We call this phase the “latent phase”.

phase”, the symptoms are typically expressed and can be seen in all the levels.

This false image stays as long as there are not enough suppressed needs in the “inner child”, to say “ENOUGH, now you will see how I don’t have to do anything”. Then, this child takes the lead role, the focus moves from the fulfilment of expectations to themselves and their feelings. We call this phase the “confusion phase”, because, in it, both the manager and the team feel completely confused in the role-changing process. In the next phase, which we call the “active burnout

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout: • Tiredness and exhaustion most of the time • Lower immunity, frequent illness • Common headaches or muscle pain • Appetite or sleeping habits change Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout: • Feeling of failure and selfdoubt • Feeling helpless, captivated, and defeated

• Alienation • Lack of motivation • Low satisfaction Behaviour signs and burnout symptoms: • Giving up the responsibility solation • Work absence and avoidance Also, in this burnout phase, there are a lot of anger tendencies so we can notice sarcasm, cynicism, irony, which would classify as passive aggression, but also the conflict escalation, showing verbal and physical aggression.

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There are a lot of studies about how burnout is related to the physical health of the staff. The results show that the staff with higher burnout syndrome report more psychological and physical health problems, including anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, memory damage, and pain in the neck. (Peterson et al., 2008). Newer studies also show us bigger tendencies to use psychoactive substances. Regarding physical health, Kim, Ji, and Kao (2011) showed us that staff with bigger initial burnout levels reported more complaints on their physical health during the threeyear-long studies, including sleeping problems, headaches, respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal infections. Higher burnout level leads to a faster deterioration rate of physical health. It has been

found that burnout syndrome is an independent factor for infections (e.g. common cold; Mohren et al., 2003) and diabetes type 2 (Melamed et al., 2006). Also, burnout is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (Ahola, 2007).

the staff with higher burnout syndrome report more psychological and physical health problems, including anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, memory damage, and pain in the neck.

1. Work on organizational culture Studies that were done in the US in 2019. show that companies in which organizational culture is directed to “competition and nurturing high performance at all costs” are at three times the bigger risk of having the staff suffering from burnout syndrome than companies in which this culture is opened to understanding the need to rest.

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What I can usually see as an HR consultant is that the management recognizes and starts dealing with the burnout syndrome just during the active phase. Of course, the effects are commonly just current, and they lead the team to an after-burnout phase from which teams circularly go to phase number one and repeat the process. Because of that, I would like to state some strategies that the company can apply in different phases of this process:

If we remember the importance of organizational culture that we mentioned at the beginning of the text, for this process, it’s clear that our strategies should stem from it.

Reconsider the values we nurture in the contact with your staff. Adoption of “human values” related to staff will result in a positive attitude of the company for accepting mistakes and understanding the needs of the staff. Starting with this, positive practices that can be adopted are: • Open doors day: an opportunity for employees to freely and without hesitation say what they are facing in the working environment. • Expressing their own experience: Managers who are sharing their own mistakes and needs can serve as a positive example that the company nurtures and values these kinds of needs • Measuring the presence of burnout syndrome: implementation of regular yearly measuring of the effects of burnout can show the staff that this topic is important for the company and that the company is ready to work on it • Psychological support: enable your staff to talk to experts about the suppression of burnout effects in the most adequate way. 2. Follow the team dynamic Before the burnout effects become obvious in the team, there are some red flags we can see. Studies show that, in teams that are prone to experience burnout, there are a lot of conflicts, intense

private contacts outside the work, the occurrence of the informal leaders, a drop in work efficiency, and similar indicators of the “passive rebellion”. Understanding and following the team dynamic is one of the important team leader tasks. The positive practice we can apply from this strategy: • Measuring the team dynamic: using the instruments to measure processes in the team, we can get clear indicators of team dynamic quality • Team building: organizing the team building to encourage the team to communicate the specific problems that the team has. 3. Suggesting open policy The team that feels involved in decision-making is a proactive team. When I say this, I am aware that that is easier said than done. Building a sense of importance for the system flexible enough to support suggestions is a long process. During that process, it’s possible to apply some of these practices: • Brainstorming ideas: organizing brainstorming sessions on the team level to come up with problem solution • Notify the team which ideas were accepted and why the others were rejected: when there is no information, there are assumptions. It’s important to give the team information what

happened with their suggestions • Notify the team about the phases of implementation of the accepted ideas: for a company, one quartal is a very short time. For the staff, that is 90 days. Even if there is a solution after that, there can be a bitter taste of the waiting process which diminishes the importance of the solution. Notify the team about the status of the project that they suggested. • Consider the flexibility of the workplace: options like double shifts, working both from home and office, rearrangement of the office, and similar ideas can be done with clear and good borders with the team. Consider which are the important options for the team, and is there a way for them to be fulfilled. The teams that I had the opportunity to work with on the subject of burnout had one thing in common - a passive leader whose attitude was to stay quiet and wait for problems to pass. This toxic attitude can just make the problem bigger and multiply the burnout. Speak about burnout with your team. Speak about rebellion, anger, need for breaks, search and give suggestions. Show them that you understand, that you care, and that it’s important to you. If you don’t do that, the team will find the way to do it on its own, exactly through burnout.

The teams that I had the opportunity to work with on the subject of burnout had one thing in common - a passive leader whose attitude was to stay quiet and wait for problems to pass. References: Ahola, K., Väänänen, A., Koskinen, A., Kouvonen, A., & Shirom, A. (2010). Burnout as a predictor of all-cause mortality among industrial employees: a 10-year prospective register-linkage study. Journal of psychosomatic research, 69(1), 51-57. Langelaan, S., Bakker, A. B., Schaufeli, W. B., van Rhenen, W., & van Doornen, L. J. (2006). Do burned-out and work-engaged employees differ in the functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis?. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 339-348. Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Sanz-Vergel, A. I. (2014). Burnout and work engagement: The JD–R approach. Annu. Rev. Organ. Psychol. Organ. Behav., 1(1), 389-411. Peterson, U., Demerouti, E., Bergström, G., Samuelsson, M., Åsberg, M., & Nygren, Å. (2008). Burnout and physical and mental health among Swedish healthcare workers. Journal of advanced nursing, 62(1), 84-95. Kim, H., Ji, J., & Kao, D. (2011). Burnout and physical health among social workers: A three-year longitudinal study. Social work, 56(3), 258-268. Mohren, D. C., Swaen, G. M., Kant, I., van Amelsvoort, L. G., Borm, P. J., & Galama, J. M. (2003). Common infections and the role of burnout in a Dutch working population. Journal of psychosomatic research, 55(3), 201-208. Melamed, S., Shirom, A., Toker, S., & Shapira, I. (2006). Burnout and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective study of apparently healthy employed persons. Psychosomatic medicine, 68(6), 863-869. Ahola, K. (2007). Occupational burnout and health.

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Do You Have What It Takes to Keep Your Talents? Nikola Jovanović, OD/HR/Digital Learning and Transformation Advisor, Tuturutu Consulting

Have you noticed that in all HR research, in the last five or more years, one of the most important things for employees is personal development? Of course, salary and benefits always come first, but training and development is always close, along with the possibility of advancement, culture, flexibility and other similar topics. It is clear that people don’t take their jobs for granted, and they are interested in everything that will enable them to do their job better and at the same time grow personally and professionally. We already know that most large companies are actively dealing with these topics. Budgets were not greatly reduced during the pandemic either, and some of my clients even

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increased the training budget to take advantage of the pause in company growth, to prepare people, digitalize processes and overall get ready for new market games when the pandemic calms down.

BUT, IS THAT ENOUGH? In short, no. But let me explain. Due to the pandemic the general fluctuation in most large organizations has been reduced. Employees take less risk, they stay within their comfort zones, which is completely normal for these crazy times. If you follow the data of your HR dashboard superficially, you may think that you are safe. Still, it seems to me that the talent market, and by “talents” I mean the ones you want

to keep in the company the most, has never been more active. The pandemic has pushed the globalization of the workforce, because work from home (or from some other remote location) is now generally accepted, and now companies from all over Europe and North America are looking for employees in our region as well.

of their current employer during the pandemic. Even a simple “back to office” plan, where employees don’t have an option to choose their preferred model, can trigger dissatisfaction. Yeah, I know, just when you thought that handling GenZ employees is hard enough, now you have a whole new level of needs to deal with.

They don’t always throw money at candidates, because it is not money that makes a difference, but they offer true flexibility, international environment, new challenges, additional funds for home office setup, access to the global market and similar “perks” that most local employers cannot offer. Such an offer can be tempting to anyone who has already considered a change, is dissatisfied with their current position or simply does not feel the support

WHAT TO DO THEN? Prevention is the mother of health, both personal and organizational. Stick to your goals, but adapt. Don’t wait for talents to come to you and say they got an offer, it’s too late to react if that happens. Adapt, and do it quickly. As circumstances have changed, you need to forget for a moment everything you’ve done with talents so far, and revise all ideas, strategies, and action plans if necessary.

You need to put aside all the psychometric and other tools you have used and talk to all these people again, in order to understand who they are today, a year and a half since the first lockdown. I’m sure that you will be surprised by how many people think differently now. You will see how some of them, whom you considered as super innovative and had big plans for them, don’t know how to cope with these rapid changes, and how some others fully understand and use the situation to improve their work, change their approach and become hyper-efficient. These people might even be a little angry that your company is changing and digitalizing too slowly!

CARPE DIEM Let's go back to the beginning of this article and the research I mentioned. The needs and desires of employees do not change, they only manifest in a different way. Personal development is still the topic to act upon, it’s just that the trainings that you planned 6 months or a year ago may no longer be relevant. Or maybe the topics you wanted to cover are relevant, but the way you planned delivery is not. Same goes on an organizational development level because, like it or not, your organization is changing rapidly, so the strategy that you may have developed and adopted 2 years ago now means nothing.

SO, ACT ON IT. Take advantage of the moment and the chance that is given to you. Identify who are the employees, in the new circumstances, you don’t want to lose, and involve them in the development of the organization, the new business model, the new strategies, and the action plans. Structure the process, devise the best way to make those big steps, but allow them to connect their personal development with the development of the organization, because there has never been a better time for that. We are all in one huge worldwide experiment and no one knows exactly how to deal with all these changes. So let them experiment, let them make mistakes, allow them to play and have crazy ideas even when you don’t understand what they want to achieve, and trust them to do it the way they think they should, and when they feel the time is right. Be with them as they do so, support and push them, don’t let them get back into the comfort zone. It's not easy, I know, but if you dare to take this approach, not only will you not have to worry about talent fluctuations, but you will become a magnet for talent from other organizations.

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The modern HR world has changed. With employees’ wellbeing in the spotlight, new concepts have been adopted to better study people representing a company. Some of these concepts are “employee experience”, “employee engagement”, and “people analytics”. In fact, these are just marketing practices put in place to understand, attract, and retain customers. If you make customers feel nice while doing business with you, they will return, recommend, and buy more. The HR logic follows a similar pattern: if you have loyal and engaged people on your team, they will stay longer, work better, and produce more fruitful results. Every part of the employee journey is planned accordingly, starting from hiring and onboarding, performance evaluation, compensation, going over to learning and development, and, lastly, offboarding. To deliver this demanding task, HR professionals (HRs) have to create an HR strategy that’s closely linked with the business one. Strategic HR, they call it. Strategic HR is a way of managing HR to support long-term business goals. How can a company recruit, develop, and retain talent to meet the needs of the company’s future plans? What kind of approach should HRs take to ensure their HR strategy is in line with the company’s overall strategy? The focus should be on the people. As the company’s biggest asset, people are essential to creating sustainable value. Strategic or people HR is therefore said to increase job satisfaction, boost productivity, and improve work culture. There are many ways to motivate employees and help them work more efficiently, but nothing beats a great working environment. This is why HR partners should use all available resources to create a culture that will help employees thrive. A modern company functions as a small society. It has its values, traditions, practices, and beliefs. Its culture. For everyone at the company to be able to work and deliver their best, the culture has to be right. Nobody can perform well if they feel demotivated, undervalued or disliked. This is why the HR team has to ensure that the people they hire enjoy being part of the company. However, it’s not just about HR. The entire company, especially top management, has to reflect this attitude. If you don’t live it, leave it.

SO, WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL WORKPLACE CULTURE? The answer isn’t unique, just like no company is a 100% replica of another. A company’s workplace culture should be consistent with the company’s mission, vision, values, and, most importantly, its people. While the leaders are primarily responsible for setting a company culture, everyone should work on achieving it. A successful workplace culture is, above all, a people-oriented culture. Such a culture includes not just a positive work environment,

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IF YOU HAVE LOYAL AND ENGAGED PEOPLE ON YOUR TEAM, THEY WILL STAY LONGER, WORK BETTER, AND PRODUCE MORE FRUITFUL RESULTS. but also high levels of empathy, employee engagement, open communication, and constructive feedback. In a successful workplace environment, people feel respected and valued. They are recognized for their successes and allowed to learn and fix their mistakes. There’s one particular concept that’s gained in popularity over the past few years. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) have become an important part of a successful workplace culture. Basically, it’s about hiring different people, and making them feel good with and about each other. Sounds simple, but things are more complex than that. Before implementing an inclusive culture, everyone involved needs to understand it.

WHAT DOES D&I IN THE WORKPLACE MEAN? Diversity in the workplace refers to a workforce that comprises people with different characteristics, most common being age, gender, ethnicity/origin, sexual orientation, and experience. Inclusion in the workplace refers to the procedures and practices a company implements to achieve a work environment in which everyone is treated justly and nicely, has fair access to information and resources, the freedom to express themselves, and contribute to the company’s goals. An important thing to keep in mind is that diversity (what?) and inclusion (how?) must go together. You can have a team of people with different backgrounds who can’t stand working with each other due to differences between them. If there’s no positive interaction, there’s no point in diversity. Another term related to D&I is equity. One assumes an inclusive culture is where everyone is treated with respect, and given equal opportunities. But, we often don’t consider the fact that not everyone can be or wants to be treated equally. Many require additional resources and support to have fair access to, say, learning opportunities (a dyslexic person, for example). While diversity represents all the aspects that make an individual different, inclusion is more related to behaviors and norms that ensure everyone feels welcome and included. Equity is the key link between the two, as it’s the equitable treatment of all employees that enables a truly successful D&I workplace culture.

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WHAT DOES A D&I CULTURE LOOK LIKE? A diverse and inclusive culture is a culture that brings together people with different traits, such as age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, abilities, and experience. These people can get along well with each other because they are open-minded, respectful, tolerant, and good communicators. They embrace differences, and demonstrate understanding, integrity, and empathy. They are free of biases and social prejudices. In such a positive workplace environment, people are motivated, engaged, and happy. They work more efficiently, reach their company’s goals more quickly, they make progress, and they innovate.

WHY DO WE INSIST ON D&I AS A TOP PRIORITY WHEN ESTABLISHING A COMPANY CULTURE? An individual working at a company promoting and fostering D&I values can thrive and perform better than an individual working at a company not respecting individuality and difference. This is natural. When we feel unable to express ourselves and be who we are, we feel limited. Fear, discomfort, and anxiety affect our abilities to do our jobs well, but also to establish good relationships with our colleagues. Additionally, people who bully or discriminate against others at work contribute to a toxic workplace, frequent conflicts, and social exclusion. All of this translates into poor morale, poor performance, poor results, and poor profits. Nobody wins. D&I represent a clear social, political, ethical, and moral norm, but there are also many business advantages of an inclusive culture. Some of them include: 1. Higher profits: While diversity doesn’t imply higher profits automatically, companies with diverse teams are more likely to earn more. A 2019 McKinsey study showed that ethnically and culturally diverse top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36% in profitability. Combined different attitudes, mindsets, approaches, and know-hows contribute to better customer service/experience, and bring in more partnerships and sales. 2. Innovation: Diverse teams are more innovative, especially when diversity happens in complex environments and/or throughout the company. Back in 2016, BCG found that having managers who are women, of different nationalities or from different industries, drove more innovation, especially at larger companies covering several product lines and markets. Additionally, innovation isn’t limited to the usual types of diversity. Different ways of working and different types of contracts also increase innovation. 3. Richer talent pool: In Glassdoor’s 2020 Diversity Hiring Survey, 76% of job seekers and employees reported that a diverse workforce was an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.


It’s simple: if you want to hire top talent, you need to attract it. Candidates are more selective and demanding, so you need to be known as a good employer: open your company’s door to diversity, be transparent, and communicate your values clearly for others to notice, adapt, and promote. 4. More customers: Harvard Business Review published a study in which employees were more likely to report a growth in market share (45%) at diverse companies, and 70% more likely to report a new market entry. When you have different people on your team, they can combine their diverse knowledge and experience to better understand current and potential customers, be more sensitive to cultural differences, and become gender smart. This will enable your company to personalize its offer, conquer new markets, and increase the number of customers because you’ll be able to adapt and adjust to different segments. 5. Better employer reputation and employee retention: It’s not D&I per se, but related practices, such as organizational flexibility and fair treatment, that are going to strengthen your employer reputation as you create an environment based on trust, respect, and equity. This will improve employees’ morale, and allow everyone to learn and improve, regardless of their background. If people think a very successful company is the one dedicated to D&I, such an attitude will empower employees, and make them stay longer.


6. Improved corporate social responsibility: D&I aren’t just a business trend. It’s a trend that touches all aspects of life, and, as such, personal perception is closely linked with the business one. If a company helps their employees understand the importance of D&I, uncover and eradicate unconscious biases, remove prejudices, and become more tolerant of others, the employees will share the acquired knowledge and practices with their environment, families and friends, thus contributing to a more just and equitable world - and your CSR.

HOW TO MAKE D&I A KEY PRIORITY? D&I strategies should be integrated at all company levels, and hold everyone accountable for their actions. How do you do it?

Assessment First, HRs have to assess the current state around D&I to prepare for change, define processes, and set goals. By assessing the organization, HR will detect key resistance areas, as well as available resources that can help overcome obstacles, and focus on building a D&I culture. People analytics will provide companies with people, performance, and program data that will allow HR managers to identify existing diversity gaps and biases, and determine what to include in the D&I training program. They should also consult external parties, and compare their situation with their competitors and the market to better understand the principles and approaches to decision-making and key problem solving. HR has to share the findings and general information about D&I advantages with the leaders and employees alike to prevent resistance and misunderstanding, but also to prepare everyone for the next stages. Assessment should be done regularly to track the progress of your D&I strategy.

Training and other programs To make D&I a key part of the workplace culture, employees in all positions should go through training to learn more about inclusion and understand the consequences of intolerance and discrimination. Many aren’t aware of their unconscious biases, stereotypes, and prejudices, which prevent them from treating their colleagues right. A lot of people need to learn to expand their views, accept differences, and be tolerant. A tailored D&I training program can help them discover, and improve so much about themselves and their peers. It should be designed based on the results of the initial assessment, for more efficient results. For example, if you noticed a slight reluctance toward people of colour, you can have training on intercultural diversity, ethnicity, and communication.

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Other programs to consider include externally organized workshops and initiatives that might be good for your team to better familiarize themselves with the topic.

Team activities You can introduce fun D&I initiatives for people to discover and learn to accept each other’s differences in a more practical, real-life way. You can play the “I am, I am not…” game, and organize sessions where you’ll openly discuss (anonymous) employee stories, including bad experiences, so everyone can relate, and become more sensitive to and respectful of differences. These discussions will also unveil prejudices, fears, and misconceptions. You can also have office gatherings, with everyone bringing foods unique to their culture, and/or set a diversity theme for every get-together. You can find many activities online. The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to make people feel enthusiastic and open to change.

Communication When looking to create a D&I culture, HRs must regularly communicate with everyone at the company, especially with top management. HRs need to convince the leaders of the benefits of a D&I-based culture, and make them excited about the topic. The support of the decision-makers is crucial to make D&I a priority that guarantees a better work environment, strong performance, and great results. Similarly, employees must also be kept in the loop, as, after all, it’s about them and their well-being - so make sure you’ve got someone on your HR team who’ll serve as the main point of contact your employees can reach out to with any questions or concerns they might have.

Process adaptation and employee experience Inclusion is not a one-time thing, just like diversity doesn’t sum up to the number of diverse people you have on your team. You need to make everything resonate with D&I, starting from sourcing, and going over to daily employee experience and workplace organization. For example, make sure that your job descriptions are carefully written, people get a word when appropriate during tension-free meetings, and that everyone can access relevant learning and promotion opportunities. Finally, don’t try to fit people in, let them be different, as long as their behaviour doesn’t harm anyone.

Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies Your admin and legal teams should establish workplace policies to set behavioural standards and expectations, mention all the process-

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Branding and external communication What values does your brand currently reflect externally? Can/ did you include D&I in your CSR initiatives? Are your external relationships congruent with your D&I standards? It’s important to consider all your stakeholders to ensure the respect of your values, and behaviours accordingly.

CONCLUSION In an era of social revolution, extreme mind shifts, and global interconnectedness, D&I values are vital, going beyond a company’s performance, reputation, and prosperity. Business leaders who understand that they can help their employees become better people will definitely prioritize D&I. Of course, not every company cares about whether its staff is diverse and inclusive and how it might affect their business. We can’t generalize the situation, as it varies depending on many factors, such as experience, location, industry, social and cultural norms. Yet, if we truly want to create a more just world, we must become aware of the impact we have as a business, and make use of it to succeed in our global mission.

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Want to keep your top performers among this wave of resignations? You’re probably wondering how to make some kind of remote work schedule successful.

Luka Babić, Co-founder & CEO, Orgnostic

What we believe and what we need to learn




If your offer acceptance rate is falling because remote work is high on the list of your applicants’ rejection reasons, it’s tempting to add flexibility without changing anything else about how employees get their work done. Yet there’s a risk lurking, that the return to work is out of line with employees’ expectations. This mismatch can spark higher-thanusual turnover rates, adding loads of new hire replacement costs and hurting company performance.


The news about remote work has been mixed from the start. From the problems with disconnecting in an always-on workplace to the productivity increases we saw in early 2020, it’s tough to make sense of it all. When we dive into these data, we see the productivity improvements come from employees working longer hours, having more (and smaller) meetings, and overextending themselves. This puts workers on the path to burnout, something all companies can track and reduce. How do we make sure this doesn’t happen in the next stage of remote work? Nowadays, everyone seems to be an expert on how to solve these remote work challenges - until they need to back up their claims with evidence. Before we make all-or-nothing decisions about remote work, let’s take a look at some assumptions about working together remotely and whether there’s evidence to support them.

WE THINK PRODUCTIVITY DEGRADES WITH REMOTE WORK, AND THAT PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS WILL FIX THAT. At work and with friends, we’ve been social distancing before we needed to. Two years ago, a Gallup poll found more than 68% of millennials and 47% of Gen Xers say they prefer texting to speaking. Even at work, in-person communication is at a bare minimum for some. Especially if you’re in an open-plan office: employees in an open office style spend 72% less time interacting in person, 56% more time sending emails, and 67% more time instant messaging in a study by Dr. Ethan Bernstein, a Harvard Business School professor. Whether you are working remotely, or in the open office you commuted to, you’re mostly going to communicate with people on a virtual platform anyway. So many managers are worried about productivity when it comes to remote work. With those worries, it’s tempting to add more tools and processes to try and fix the ‘productivity problem’. But we’re using a huge number of productivity tools already. In 2018, the productivity software market was valued at 33B - with over 60% of that coming from the U.S. This market is growing at a fast rate of 16.5% per year. But are these tools helping us get more productive? In the last three years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the U.S.’ workforce productivity was declining. As employees worked more hours and some world economies added more jobs since the Great Recession, businesses’ output did not climb as much as their effort did. In a distracted world, more apps, tabs, and tools might not be the right solution. Our obsession with tools might have deep origins. Researchers at Princeton find a neurological and evolutionary connection to tool

use. Our parietal cortex reacts with more activity when we see an image of a tool; we interact with the world based on how we can use the things around us to grasp, climb, and move. But the world of work is a lot less concrete now: there are invisible barriers and overlooked social factors that drive team productivity. While we may think procrastination comes from laziness or low motivation, that’s not the root cause as often as you’d expect. Surprisingly, procrastination at work often reflects distraction, fragmented schedules, and problems with regulating emotions like anxiety and overwhelm. When there’s so much to do, we might not know where to start. Techniques where people practice emotion management strategies do more to solve procrastination issues than productivity tools could - as they’re not targeting the deeper issues causing low productivity. Leaders in all companies facing this remote work dilemma need to know more about the fundamental conditions of team success. Team productivity is about often-overlooked factors, like emotional regulation and social relationships.

WE THINK EVERY GROUP OF PEOPLE, WORKING REMOTELY IS A REMOTE TEAM. Teamwork can make the dream work. But too often, teams underperform and underdeliver compared to our expectations. And remote teams are no exception. Many loose collections of people are called a team, but they aren’t necessarily a real team. So what is a real team? A real team knows who is in and who’s out of it. The first sign of a real team is boundedness. At the very minimum, a real team consists of people who actually know who is a member. This seems obvious, but two brilliant team researchers, Dr. Ruth Wageman and Dr. Richard Hackman, found fewer than 10% of the members of 120

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top leadership teams around the world actually agreed on who their members are. Beyond that, teams don’t always agree on what their purpose is, either! A real team relies on each other to get work done. The second sign is interdependence. This means team members really need to work together to accomplish a goal they share. Too often, a group is called a team, but each team member can get their work done completely independently. If team members don’t need to interact and combine their unique skills to drive solutions to joint problems, they aren’t a real team.

• psychological safety - willingness to take a risk in the group, to speak up and disagree. Teaming is one type of group formation that is becoming increasingly popular, but it has its own set of limitations and should be used for particular sprint-like purposes. If you want to ship something fast, you’ll have no other choice than to team up. However, if you’re going to win championships, then you better build a few mission-critical teams to take you there.


A long-term, real team has a stable set of members. Finally, teams that are working together on long-term products need some stability in their membership. The core of the team, at the very least, must continue working together in the long run. It is only through time that social bonds are created and that the group collectively learns how to best work together. Drs. Richard and Ruth start with the real team factor as the most essential and primary condition of team success. Before anything else, your remote teams should be designed with these real team factors in mind.

DO ALL TEAMS NEED A STABLE SET OF MEMBERS? In some ways, our organizations are getting more complex; higher market expectations mean we need more adaptability from employees and businesses. This makes it difficult to work in real teams of stable members. Complex problems and shifting requirements on the fly need quick solutions and expertise from different fields. In such situations, we simply can’t afford to have teams working together for a long time. Instead, we have to use something that Harvard professor Amy Edmondson calls “teaming”. Teaming is when people work on a shifting mix of projects with many different colleagues, whom they might not have worked with before or never will again. In such cases, Prof. Edmondson found that the personal characteristics of leaders, such as curiosity, passion, and empathy, play a significant role in team success.

These personal values of leaders often lead to positive teaming norms: • situational humility - staying humble in the face of challenge and admitting the limits of your knowledge • curiosity about others - genuine interest in what other team members bring to the table and how everyone can help

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A crucial aspect of smart team design is often overlooked: creating coherent team norms. In a remote world, leaders are especially likely to overlook this as it’s easy to be hands-off and laissez-faire. Even if you lead a team of highly responsible, highly educated individuals, group behavior is a whole other challenge that goes beyond putting smart people together. Many team leaders trap themselves into leading multiple one-on-one conversations when trying to resolve conflict, or they fail to align people around a common goal. As a result, leaders might be working harder, even to the point of micromanaging their team members, not working smarter. An easier and more efficient way to manage collective behaviors is to create shared agreements about valued behaviors in the team. You can make the creation of team norms a collaborative effort, which helps keep members accountable for maintaining the norms. Whether you actively create them or not, team norms arise. People learn how others behave on team calls, by seeing whether people are on time for meetings and deadlines, by picking up on a lack of transparency between members, and by the messages they receive about the quality of work that’s acceptable. If these norms are not set at the beginning, they show up anyways. Often, these unintentional norms reflect the worst behavior the group will accept. If your colleague openly misses a deadline and no one in the group cares to address it, the team norm becomes that it is okay to miss deadlines.

WE THINK GREAT COACHING CAN OVERCOME DEEP-SEATED ISSUES OF TEAM STRUCTURE AND COMMUNICATION. Contrary to conventional wisdom, research tells us that, as a leader, you do not need to be a fantastic coach. Coaching is a powerful tool for leaders, but the most effective coaching comes after you have created a real team with a shared goal and explicit norms.


Great coaching has a minimal positive impact on poorly designed teams, almost as insignificant as poor coaching hurts well-designed units. On the other hand, poor coaching delivered to a poorly designed squad can send the team down the drain.

Teams are rarely created as a product of intentional design; instead, they are predominantly the result of a chain of developments in a given context. Most of our organizations, likewise, develop as a necessity through moments of inertia.

Yet if great coaching is used with a well-designed team, coaching can amplify the team’s success even further.

How can we fill in the gaps of our knowledge on remote teams?

What is unique about remote teams? Whether you have a remote team or a team that sits together in the office, you still need to make sure it is a real team, with a compelling purpose and, most importantly, a clear set of norms to ensure that the team does not fall apart. Norms are especially important when the majority of your team members are working from home - especially in an uncertain time like now, where return to work plans are being postponed all around. This return to work is a temporary state and, as such, it needs to be addressed in your teams with a temporary set of norms appropriate for the situation.


There’s a lot we don’t know yet about remote teams in the postCOVID era of work. And of course, we know even less about how remote teams can be effective in your unique organization. The best way to challenge our beliefs about remote work is by testing our solutions. Some fascinating remote work experiments have taught us that remote work can save money spent on real estate, increase productivity, and reduce sick days even pre-pandemic. Others have busted our shared myths about productivity when working at home. The message is clear: we can’t predict the future, so we need to design careful experiments to find out what works in each of our companies.

New productivity tools, unrealistic expectations about face-to-face communication, and groups thrown together from convenience may be the current reality of our return-to-work strategy. But if you haven’t addressed the basics of team design by creating the right norms, collaborative opportunities, and leadership actions, chances are that your team is not a team at all or is on the wrong track.

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: design A flip side of the strategy coin Ivan Stefanović, Head of Strategic Programs, Hyperoptic

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” Yogi Berra Introduction To survive and thrive in the long run, organisations must be effective. Organisational effectiveness is a measure of how effective an organisation is within its environment, i.e. how well it fulfils its purpose by satisfying the needs of its customers and other stakeholders (Chandler, 2017). Being effective means continuously delivering the value for which their customers are willing to pay the asked price. Building an effective organisation is one of the toughest challenges in the era of

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modern management. The good news is that we now have enough knowledge and experience to make organisations more effective. This is done through the process called “organisation design”.

Putting organisation design where it belongs Organisation design is the outcome of shaping and aligning all the components of an organisation towards the achievement of an agreed mission (Stanford, 2007). More specifically, organisation design is the process of configuring structures, processes, reward

systems, and people practices to create an effective organisation capable of achieving the business strategy. The organisation is not an end in itself; it is simply a vehicle for accomplishing the strategic tasks of the business (Kates & Galbraith, 2007). In other words, organisation design is the process and outcome of tailoring an organisation to fit the intended strategy, while its purpose is to build a more effective organisation. Having this in mind, we can discuss the place of organisation design alongside other topics and constructs that deserve attention from the top management perspective.


Since organisation design heavily influences the operating model and helps an organisation realize its intended strategy, it should be seen as an integral part of strategy execution, alongside the delivery of other strategic initiatives (projects and programs) aimed at further developing its operating model. Perceived in this way, the value of organisation design is in enabling strategy execution, which is an essential part of the whole strategy process. A strategy has no value on paper; its value comes from the effects of execution. Therefore, organisation designers need to be involved in strategy discussions and decision making alongside the executive board members and other key stakeholders.


Organisation design is driven by the environment, strategy and operating context. No two organisation design solutions are the same. The designer needs to take the situational approach – to assess the current situation both externally and internally, understand the intended strategy, and design the organisation accordingly.


Organisation design takes a holistic view of the organisation. It’s always about the entire organisation. Focusing on just one part will never bring the intended results.


Organisation design is about the future, not the present. It is important to be aware of the current situation to start the design process, but the intended result should take into account how the future organisation should look like. An organisation design that is perfect for today is of little use if it cannot adapt to cope with the conditions of tomorrow (Goold & Campbell, 2002).

Understanding the basic principles of organisation design No matter how large an organisation is or which industry it operates in, there is a set of principles to be followed when working on organisation design. According to Stanford (2007), these principles are:



Organisation design is a resourceintensive process resulting in fundamental changes. It takes a lot of time and requires participation from all employees while resulting in significant organisational changes. Direction of organisation design is dictated by the source of changes. If the goals and missions change, organisation design is initiated from the top down; if the technical system on the operations level or processes changes, organisation design proceeds from the bottom up.

No two organisation design solutions are the same. The designer needs to take the situational approach – to assess the current situation both externally and internally Adherence to these principles will help organisation designers stay on the right track and avoid mistakes and obstacles that would otherwise most probably occur. For example, not taking a holistic view on organisation design usually leads to solutions that optimize only one part of the organisation at the expense of the whole. As a result, the so-called “empire building” may ensue. In practice, this is manifested as putting more and more resources and employees under one executive or manager. The formal explanation for this move is usually the need for decentralization, more agility, or something similar, while the true reason might be the desire of this person to grow their power within the organisation. Hence, this part of the organisation gets more resources and people and probably becomes more effective, while the whole organisation suffers from duplication of efforts, higher costs, unclear division of labour, etc. Another example of disregarding the aforementioned principles would be the situation in which not all key stakeholders are aligned around the new organisation design solution, thus offering passive

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resistance to its implementation. This makes the design implementation a lot harder, resulting in the budget overrun, declining levels of motivation for changes, and jeopardizing the whole organisation design project, which can be quite expensive.

Importance of having a model for organisation design When designing an organisation, it is very important to have a roadmap of actions. Hence, having an empirically proven conceptual model as a basis for organisation design will save a designer a lot of trouble.

each component of an organisation should work to support the strategy. The more that the structure, processes, rewards, and people practices reinforce the desired actions and behaviours, the better will the organisation cope with challenges to achieve its goals 42 | HR World 05 2021 2021 06 | maj November

Figure 1: Galbraith’s Star Model (Galbraith, 1995)

There are a plethora of models that have proven their value for organisation design, ranging from very simple to very complex ones. However, one of the models that deserve to be mentioned is Galbraith’s Star Model (Galbraith, 1995), shown in Figure 1. This is a fairly simple model in which five components need to be considered, as well as mutual dependencies among them. In this model, a strategy is seen as a set of capabilities at which an organisation must excel to achieve the strategic goals. Other components – structure, processes, rewards, and people practices, need to be shaped in a way that will allow the organisation to build these needed capabilities. In other words, each component of an organisation should work to support the strategy. The more that the structure, processes, rewards, and people practices reinforce the desired actions and behaviours, the better will

the organisation cope with challenges to achieve its goals (Kates & Gabraith, 2007).

Constraints to organisation design Even though the concept of organisation design is a powerful means of achieving organisational effectiveness, numerous obstacles prevent its wider application. A solid overview of organisation design top barriers has been presented by Morrison (2015). As shown in Figure 2, the results of his research indicate that the protection of vested interests and the lack of a proper strategy explain 54% of the total spectrum of barriers, followed by ingrained organisational routines, high costs of organisation design projects, and the inability of executives to agree on organisation design process or results.


Figure 2: Organisation design top barriers (Morrison, 2015)

Understanding barriers to organisation design is of crucial importance because it allows organisation design practitioners to identify potential barriers in their organisation more easily and devise action plans to overcome them. The most attention should be given to understanding and managing the interests of individual stakeholders, having a proper strategy in place, and effectively communicating that strategy throughout the organisation.

Conclusion: A possibility for the HR practitioners to add value to the executive agenda Organisation design is a crucial process for strategy execution. The person who takes over this process will certainly become a crucial part of the executive equation. So, the question is – who should own this process? And one of the most obvious answers is – the function that is already focused on people. For HR, this expansion of responsibilities

can be seen as natural progress toward complementary knowledge and skills. Understanding the intricacies of organisation design and becoming proficient in designing organisations would elevate HR practitioners in terms of adding a true value to the executive agenda – from working at the people level to assuming responsibilities for devising a system that will enable people to implement the overall strategy set by the executive team. In this way, HR would expand its focus and become even more business-oriented. It would become a true partner in discussions revolving around strategy topics, thus finally earning its place at the executive table.

References Chandler, C. G. (2017). Become Truly Great: Serve the Common Good Through Management by Positive Organizational Effectiveness. Powell, OH: Author Academy Elite. Galbraith, J. R. (1995). Designing Organizations: An Executive Briefing on Strategy, Structure, and Process. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Goold, M. & Campbell, A. (2002). Nine Tests of Organisation Design. The Ashridge Journal, Summer, pp. 4-9. Kates, A. & Galbraith, J. R. (2007). Designing Your Organization: Using the Star Model to Solve 5 Critical Design Challenges. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Morrison, R. (2015). Data-driven Organization Design: Sustaining the Competitive Edge Through Organizational Analytics. London, UK: Kogan Page Limited. Stanford, N. (2007). Guide to Organisation Design: Creating High-Performing and Adaptable Enterprises. London: Profile Books, Ltd.

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Pedro Gajić, Vice President of Talent Operations, Casana Technologies

If you are using only Linkedin for communication with potential candidates you are definitely wrong. It’s almost like a sales business, you want to sell your job position to the best possible candidate. So, what are you offering? I assume most of you have a conventional approach to HR and growth. You start your email with: “Dear Mr.” etc.. Let me try to present my approach and how I hacked the global talent market. First of all, I have a very fluffy and casual approach to talents. This is not the key for success but I’m just trying to be different and think “out of the box”. So, how to hack the HR? As I mentioned above, you must have an unconventional approach to the business. Human market is hectic and you are not the only one who is hiring. Before you send any message to the candidate, be aware it’s probably the third message he received that day. I used to work with people from the IT industry so this is well-known information. Before you start your search try to analyze how to make yourself attractive for the talents to get to know you better.

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Most of the colleagues in the industry will post the job on their web page/Linkedin and start the Linkedin search. In 90% of cases it looks like this. It seems to me that the average recruiters have up to 30 years and, for some unknown reason, those are mostly females using Linkedin premium accounts. Let’s start from this fact. If you are hiring a Senior Python Engineer with 10+ years of experience, that person is not on Linkedin, and even if you somehow managed to find him on Linkedin, he/she never responds to your message (just to clarify, not trying to kill your dreams here). The key for success lies in the creation of a proper recruitment funnel: • • • •

Attraction Sourcing Placement and Onboarding Time to hire and cost of hiring.

In most cases you must have the way you attract candidates to know you better.


ATTRACTION If you are using only Linkedin for communication with potential candidates you are definitely wrong. It’s almost like a sales business, you want to sell your job position to the best possible candidate. So, what are you offering? In most of the cases, companies are offering attractive working spaces, PS4, snacks, drinks etc.. But, is this the game changer? The games start from the company culture, you can use Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram to share your company culture, but people want to know more. I believe that very talented individuals are members of highly specialized forums or tech groups. These are the places where they want to learn new things and share their knowledge. So, this might be the best way to share information about your projects and ideas you have for the future. Also, the best way to approach the people are meetups and conferences where you are targeting a very small group of people. In 99% of cases they all match your position. As mentioned above, in most cases usually female recruiters with a premium Linkedin account will start their day spamming with hundreds of messages and yet, their response rate is only 10%. It’s clear that this is not working! If I’m sending 100 messages I’m expecting at least 60% response rate and 30% interest rate. How does it work? With proper talent attraction your response rate will grow and, on top of that, if you add a “Hey, we met at the meetup...” your response rate will grow up to 90%. Recruiters should work more on the field meeting people in person instead of stalking them on the net. Let me share my experience. In 2017 I’ve shared around 3k business cards around the world at different tech events. As I mentioned, my approach was out of the box. I was moving around the world and meeting super talented people but I was thinking about how I am not the only one who is doing this. I’m recruiting top 3% of the best engineers, designers and finance experts therefore I must be different and unique in my approach. So, instead of printing a lot of marketing materials which probably will end up in the trash, I ordered several hundred chocolates. My business card

Make sure your selection process is fast and effective. This is crucial for making a good impression about your company.

Once you have the candidate interested - you go on a sales call. No bullshit, just facts. was a small chocolate with a business card on the back. I’ve shared around 3000 chocolates! Today, three years later, I’m still getting emails and Linkedin messages. Everytime I went to a conference or a meetup, I just shared my business card and they did the rest. First thing I received the day after was an email saying “Hey, thanks for the chocolate! What are you guys doing?” Now, back to the sourcing and fluffy approach. I’m not against Linkedin messages but there must be a strategy behind it. If you are hiring Senior IT engineers, which is the biggest challenge today, then you should rather try with Github or, Personalized email is always a better solution than a short Linkedin note.

If you are using only Linkedin for communication with potential candidates you are definitely wrong. It’s almost like a sales business, you want to sell your job position to the best possible candidate. So, what are you offering?

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Big organizations are more focused on procedures rather than on people, which is the wrong approach. Once the employees meet key stakeholders, they will get the right directions. So, how many emails should you send? If you are targeting a response rate of 60% then one email is not enough. I believe it should be three emails, however, I see some recruiters in the US sending four. This might be tricky. It depends on the tone of the email, so be careful with this. I always send a follow up email if I don’t get a response on the initial message and, of course, most of them only respond at the third one with “Hey, I was busy, but thank you for your follow up.” Once you have the candidate interested you go on a sales call. No bullshit, just facts. Who you are, where you are at the moment and where you want to be. Just show them your ambition to grow together with those candidates and invite them for a journey. The process: Unless your company is Google or Amazon, you can’t afford to have a slow and long recruitment process. Make sure your selection process is fast and effective. This is crucial for making a good impression about your company. If you have so many steps in the selection process, the candidates will be lost and might lose their interest. This is not only the matter of candidates. The real questions are - how much does all of this cost and how many resources are you using in the process?

PLACEMENT AND ONBOARDING Now we are getting to the point. Once you have the candidate shortlisted and hired, someone should onboard them and bring in the procedures you have, but, the key is to meet the main stakeholders instead of meeting with the procedures. Big organizations are more focused on procedures rather than on people, which is the wrong approach. Once the employees meet key stakeholders, they will get the right directions. I remember when I went to the bank a few years ago, just to close my bank account and one of the employees didn’t know how

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to do it. She was doing her best, but she was new and lost with procedures, clicks... After exactly one hour, her supervisor came and explained to her how to do it. While closing my account, the supervizor blamed her for not knowing how to do it herself. In the end, the real problem was that no one explained to her how to do it. I saw this as a typical example of bad management right in front of me. Of course, I was pissed because she was blamed by someone who should have empowered her, when he didn’t even explain it to her on time. If you want to have an army of people behind you, and you want to be sure that they won’t fail, then train them and let them know everything about their work. Proper training is important for all employees, especially for new hires. Not all of us are seniors but it doesn’t change the fact that we all need the same information on how to do something in the process.

TIME TO HIRE AND COST OF HIRING Ok, so the recruitment is now finished and the person is onboarded. The final step is to analyze how much it all costs. You are using your own resources on a daily basis, but from the moment they are not on a billable project, you are actually spending your own money in a selection process. When you analyze all the above mentioned you can realize there is a real war outside. War for talents. Future of work has just started and we are in a digital revolution age. Remote work is becoming a routine, so the next question in this war is how to attract talents. Once you get the magic stick you will get the Nobel prize.

Recruiters should work more on the field meeting people in person instead of stalking them on the net.

The leader drives engagement but who is in charge of engaging the leader? Ivan Marković, Employee Experience Manager, NIS; Anja Mučenski, Head of Talent and Learning, NIS

NIS Case: Engagement Academy



The time for the annual medical checkup has come. No one is certain if „everything is gonna be alright“ and we don’t know how we are going to feel after the half-day journey and multiple encounters with doctors. But there are some extremely painful words that we simply reject to hear - „if you had come earlier, it might not have progressed that way“.

levels of our employees and that wasn’t all. We wanted to position our HR as an “enabler” instead of being the one & only responsible for the engagement. All employee engagement plans in all organizational units were created during the workshops with leaders and employees who participated in the workshop.

Regular employee engagement “checkups” (surveys) usually bring a variety of painful and less painful surprises. Some of them we could have prevented for sure, some of them we could have identified earlier. The consequences of dealing or not with employee engagement could go surprisingly far and influence your business dramatically. But let’s look at it from the bright side of life. An engaged team means less absenteeism and you know how costly it can be. An engaged team means more productivity, they will always go “above and beyond”, and encourage your customers to buy more than they intended, while providing them with an outstanding customer experience. Engaged teams will stay or they will stay longer, so they will not cause a high turnover, nor high costs for onboarding and training new people repeatedly.

We were aware of the fact that it would be hardly possible to have an engaged team without engaged leaders. That’s why we paid special attention to raising awareness and creating engaged leaders in our company.

Sometimes we question ourselves about what we really measure or what we want to achieve – happy, satisfied or engaged people. We would be very much happy if we could get it all, but it is hardly possible. From the business point of view, we can help someone feel happy(er), but you cannot influence fully, nor guarantee their happiness due to other aspects of life. Our employees could be satisfied, but that doesn’t guarantee that they will be ready to go the extra mile. On the other hand, I could be unhappy or unsatisfied with my job or treatment, and despite all that, I will be engaged because it is a part of my DNA or my attitude and working style. Thus, the “safe zone” for moving around is employee engagement. Two years ago NIS adopted a new model of measuring employee engagement whose roots are in the corporate strategy and business goals, target culture and values. Actually, we created a unique matrix that connects business & culture imperatives with 4 engagement drivers based on which we are supposed to achieve our business goals. All our engagement surveys and action plans are based on these 4 drivers. One of the biggest challenges and tasks in the last two years was to be as transparent as possible. We communicated the engagement results to all

One of Gallup’s biggest discoveries in this area showed that the manager or team leader alone accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement. That is an urgent call to redefine managers’ roles and expectations, provide the training tools, resources and development that managers need. Why? To be able to complete their role and be able to coach and meet those expectations, as well as to create evaluation practices that help managers measure performance accurately, hold their team members accountable, and coach them for what’s to come. Just as an illustration, research has shown that employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are three times more likely to be engaged than those who receive feedback once a year or less.

THAT’S WHY WE PAID SPECIAL ATTENTION TO RAISING AWARENESS AND CREATING ENGAGED LEADERS IN OUR COMPANY So, what is the ideal we strive to achieve? What makes someone an engagement role model to look up to? Maybe the ones on top, charismatic leaders who have all the answers, who drive results no matter the circumstances and experience of their associates? We believe no. In today’s circumstances and a new way of living and working, it is rather the one who shows care and concern, at least according to what last year COVID-19 pulses showed. The most critical behaviours for creating a great employee experience are inspiring and empowering the


Trust in Leadership


Meaningful work


Growth opportunity

Motivating work environment




... Newcomer & Engagement „I know what is engagement in NIS”

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Leader & Engagement „As a leader I know what is my role in creating engagement ”

Leaderhip & Engagement Empowerment „As a company we walk the talk engaged leadership”

Culture & Engagement „We encourage feedback & learning from mistakes culture”

Employees & Engagement We share real stories & live transparency PR support in promoting all Engagement Academy activities


team, creating emotional connections while demonstrating agility. These are no longer “nice to have” or the traits that make you stand out, these are the traits that make you visible. Aiming to truly support NIS leaders in this transformed leader role, we’ve designed NIS Leader Engagement Academy. In the first year, during the design phase, we focused on two core building blocks – EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE and building learning interventions around it, as well as CLEAR OUTCOMES we want to achieve.

As for OUTCOMES we’ve focused on 3: NIS employee engagement and its drivers understood by leaders, to accept when they become aware of them; to change/form the mindsets and explain why it’s important to practice engaged leadership, especially to those who have good results. To support leaders to be empowered to drive engagement. Increased feedback culture as a base for engagement, learning and development culture, and living new company values.

The design phase of the Academy was strongly influenced by new circumstances, so we’ve decided to take a bold step and start with a program relying solely on our own expertise, know-how, and resources in this changing environment. Regarding approaching, we opted for one that says “here with right intentions” in the attempt to bring people closer to such a sensitive topic, especially in highly emotional and challenging times. Looking back, I can conclude that we were driven by the set desired outcomes and from this perspective, I can say that the choice we made was definitely the right one at that very unpredictable moment. As for EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE, we’ve started at the very beginning by introducing into the onboarding process the topic of NIS engagement, its drivers, how it is measured, etc. This was achieved through several simple, yet effective steps putting special focus on new leaders who are getting familiar with their role in driving team engagement, providing booklets with “how-to” tips for getting to know this topic. As a company focused on driving internal mobility, we have a high rate of first-time managers who grow within the company. We saw them as one of the key ambassadors of the engaged leader role. In our corporate Fist Time Manager program, internally designed and delivered, we included the topic of an engaged leader as one of the most important when growing in a new managerial career path. The topic of leaders’ empowerment through the Academy was customdesigned internally, and delivered through engagement workshops, as a joint venture of HR CoE (T&D, Project team) and HRBP network. Expected outcomes of interventions for the participants were to get

familiar with the explanation of NIS engagement drivers, to help them understand their role in creating an engaging environment, to familiarize them with the survey and pulse check results. Feedback trending block was shaped as continuous and topic driven (that’s why it’s named - trending). In the first year of the Academy, we started with “Let’s talk” workshops for line managers designed and delivered by the NIS T&D team. The topic was not new, but it was brought up to leaders from the engagement construct perspective as being the core tool of engaged leaders in a safe, interactive and friendly environment. As for the C level leaders, we designed an engagement event we named The Living Room where we openly shared and discussed with the top team about core engagement drivers, findings and issues. “Engagement” and “Let’s talk” workshops were designed in a way to be able to work with a small group of leaders in a virtual environment, making it a safe place to talk about core topics, challenges and tools to use. The Living Room turned out to be an event for a broad NIS population where we, regardless of the position level, discussed and opened key engagement topics, resolved challenges and defined our way to becoming better at it. From the very beginning, all key initiatives of the NIS Leader Engagement Academy were strongly supported with transparent communication provided by our colleagues from NIS internal comms. That is one of the very core aspects in supporting and bringing the topic to such a large company like NIS. We’ve all learned a lot of “COVID lessons” on how to improve employee engagement by encouraging trust in leadership, nurturing and keeping a caring and supportive management approach and creating a positive work environment. But still, we need to change the mindset or explain why it’s important to practice engaged leadership to those who already have good results. We also need to help leaders through the process of raising self-awareness, taking ownership for the team engagement, and getting to targeted behavioural changes that become leadership styles.

WE WERE AWARE OF THE FACT THAT IT WOULD BE HARDLY POSSIBLE TO HAVE AN ENGAGED TEAM WITHOUT ENGAGED LEADERS. In the first Academic year, we’ve tried and learned a lot, which we’re also using now in this year’s NIS Leader Engagement Academy 2.0. One of the take-aways was that if something was not done, or didn’t work before, it doesn’t mean that it will never. The change is here to stay, so we must live it. Mindset and behavioural changes do not happen overnight. It’s a process. With a lot of milestones, challenges, mistakes and learnings. But when you know where you want to be, you’re halfway there. And as for where you need to be look at the leadership as it is in the eyes of those who follow - your people, and start small – engage to be engaged.

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YEARS IN HR: WHAT’S NEXT Nataša Stamenković, Human Resources Director, Al Dahra


I’ve spent 25 years in the corporate world. Under quite a random set of circumstances, the pandemic marked a pivotal moment in my career. This meant I had no job at the moment when the entire world stopped due to the virus, when no one knew when and how we’d move on, when we all very much needed safety and certainty. I intentionally left the corporate world, and I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do next, but without any clue that a crisis was about to hit us… Many don’t see HR as a key organizational department of strategic value. With people often being biased against those in top positions, is it more difficult to be an HR director? What happens after the CHR role - progression, regression, self-discovery, a career change? Nataša Stamenković shares her story for both aspiring and seasoned HRs to learn from her experience. Your HR career followed quite a unique path. You’re a psychologist who almost instantly got into the HR director role. How come? N: I was working as a school psychologist before getting a job as an industrial psychologist at Actavis. I spent 10 years there, later working as a corporate Culture/Internal Communications Manager. After the privatization, I became their HR director. At both Carlsberg and NIS, I also worked as an HR director. My HR career never followed the usual path. I’ve never been a recruiter, I’ve never done training and development or worked in any other HR position. When I got into HR, I immediately became an HR director. You spent 8 years at NIS. How was it to work in such a large company as its HR director?

WHAT YOU THINK - YOU SAY, WHAT YOU SAY - YOU DO. PUT SIMPLY, THAT’S WHAT INTEGRITY IS. N: It was probably my biggest career challenge. While it wasn’t my first time to be given the responsibility to make serious business transformations, it wasn’t easy. I was there to reorganize the company’s structure, culture, recruitment, and development processes. It wasn’t an easy thing to accomplish, but I was up for it. I’ve learned a lot, not really much about HR, but more about how to survive and manage in complex systems. My task at every company was to help the management with complete transformations. Every time I changed a company, it was because I did well at and for the previous one, so I moved on. The entire HR story isn’t as fancy as it might seem, just parts of it. That said, what are the key skills and abilities a strategic HR partner should have? N: Every HR wants to be a strategic HR partner, but for most, it’s just a dream. You can have a strategic HR title, without really much influence or strategic role at the top management level. It’s an opportunity, but it all depends on personal integrity. I’ve always worked in top positions. Had I not been able to justify my position at the top, my role wouldn’t have been strategic, not just for me, but for anyone who’d come afterwards. That’s why personal integrity is the key, so we could understand it’s not just our personal responsibility as HRs to keep those strategic positions, but also to ensure those who come after us have it as well. I’m sure that, even if you currently aren’t sitting at the top level as HR, you can earn your place thanks to your personal integrity.

WHEN I WAS AT THE BEGINNING AND IN THE MIDDLE OF MY CAREER, THERE WERE NO WOMEN AT THE TABLE. THE SITUATION IS DIFFERENT NOW, WITH ALL THE TALKS ABOUT GENDER EQUALITY, IT’S BETTER. IS PERSONAL INTEGRITY A SKILL, SOMETHING YOU CAN LEARN? HOW CAN ONE DEVELOP OR STRENGTHEN THEIR INTEGRITY? N: What you think - you say, what you say - you do. Put simply, that’s what integrity is. When I was at the beginning and in the middle of my career, there were no women at the table. The situation is different now, with all the talks about gender equality, it’s better. Back then, you had to have everything men had, and more. The position was always additionally demanding and challenging for women. If you don’t have integrity, if you don’t have the personality, strength, and courage to sit with each and every person at that table, nobody will listen to you. You have to

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have what other players in that game have. Personality matters, and that’s something you learn. When you were discussing business issues at that table, how did you get to learn about business? How do you think HRs should learn about business today to make themselves heard during those conversations? N: HR must learn about business because it exists as a business function. If it weren’t for business, HR wouldn’t exist. You need to understand the way of thinking, the way processes work, to be able to help those people and those processes. I learned by listening to what others were saying, by asking questions. I didn’t force myself to know everything immediately, I adopted things from others, I had good colleagues and people to learn from. I was interested, and I realized I had to understand business if I wanted to work with those people in the first place. After you’ve joined Roaming Group, where you were their COO, were you able to transfer knowledge from one system to another? N: Not really. Even though I’ve usually been in the same positions, and had the same responsibilities throughout my career, knowledge transfer makes merely 10%. It’s one thing to know about techniques, methods, and tools, and another how you apply them. You can be an expert, with great experience and knowledge, but you need to have someone willing to put your knowledge into practice. That’s why, during interviews, I prefer learning who the interviewees are, rather than what they know and what they’ve been through. Even if you’ve been through something successfully, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to repeat it. You need to consider new factors, and understand that not everything depends on you, but greatly on the context. Looking back, what knowledge and skills could have helped you better support the companies you worked at, to stay up to date with processes and business in general? What advice for younger colleagues do you have, what could they already start learning? N: I didn’t lack any technical knowledge or expertise, I worked in foreign systems where you’re taught about best practices, methodologies, tools. What I did lack was the ability to take things less seriously. I dove into everything too responsibly, and, in this job, you can’t really control everything. If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I’d take more time to discover and empower myself, to get to know myself. It’s been a while before I’ve started to understand my behaviour in the context of the role I had and see that everything could have been done more easily and in a different manner. The advice I’d give to younger people is exactly that: empower yourself, so you could better help others. From this perspective, I’d put myself first, because now I know that if I’m fine, everything else is going to be fine.

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What advice would you give to your colleagues aged 25-35, as well as to the sandwich generation? What should they pay the most attention to? N: It’s all about learning. It’s great to see young career starters have professional confidence, but it has to be justified. I often encounter people who are 1-3 years in the business, and they already give themselves important titles and tasks, they act as counsellors and educators, and I think this might discredit our profession. Instead, we have to work, not just on its survival, but transformation, so HR finally gets to the place it belongs. As for the sandwich generation, they have one task, and my advice to them is to never leave their job or company before opening another HR position at that company, that is, before developing another professional. We have to leave a mark. What advice would you give to HRs aged 45-50+, to seniors or those in C-level HR positions? N: Their social responsibility is to share all their knowledge and experience with the community. Not to complain and find faults in everything, but contribute with their own example. If we’ve been through it all, if we know where we slipped or where we sailed through, we should transfer that knowledge to others without being complacent, but transparent, and honest. We’re defining HR together, all generations included. After you quit your HR job, you became a coach, consultant and professor. What’s your favourite role, what fulfils you the most? What have you discovered once outside the corporate world? N: I’ve been exploring different HR roles, all of which added to my experience. We shouldn’t think the entire world and market function the way our companies do. I’ve discovered unexplored areas on the Serbian market where no HR has ever set foot. To me, a step further in my career isn’t about switching to a larger company or position, because I’ve been there, I’ve seen that. I wanted to substantially try something I’ve always wanted to do, and I think I’ll end my career the way I started it - through education. It’s what I enjoy the most, transferring knowledge and attitudes to people who’re in the very place I used to be. You left your job just before COVID-19. Have you planned any of it beforehand? How did the pandemic influence your professional life? N: I’ve spent 25 years in the corporate world. Under quite a random set of circumstances, the pandemic marked a pivotal moment in my career. This meant I had no job at the moment when the entire world stopped due to the virus, when no one knew when and how we’d move on, when we all very much needed safety and certainty. I intentionally left the corporate world, and I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do next, but without any clue that a crisis was about to hit us. Under these circumstances, I made a decision. The fact that I didn’t have a corporate job didn’t mean that I had no job at all. I couldn’t go back, so I created a job myself. I spent


the entire 2020 and some of 2021 as an entrepreneur. I didn’t sit, waiting for the crisis to end, I didn’t worry or regret. I was scared, just like everyone else, but I decided to go forward, I made a plan and program that I started implementing in August of 2020. I finally had the professional freedom I’ve always wanted - I could do whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, and with the people I chose to work with. This way, I found myself doing what I enjoyed most - teaching, training, mentoring, consulting, speaking. All of these roles enabled me to share my knowledge and experience with those who needed it, while making enough money along the way. What was it like?

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N: I immensely enjoyed creating and implementing HR and leadership programs that others found to be useful. I also immensely enjoyed meeting so many good, high quality people on that way, people who were studying and working hard on their development, no matter the circumstances. During this period, I discovered a labour market segment that I wasn’t aware of in such a scope and form. I jokingly call it the “untouched nature” for HR. What do I mean by that? A significant number of local companies don’t have the HR function they need so badly, due to all the issues that big systems are faced with as well. It’s been a real pleasure to work with these companies’owners

IT’S ALL ABOUT LEARNING. IT’S GREAT TO SEE YOUNG CAREER STARTERS HAVE PROFESSIONAL CONFIDENCE, BUT IT HAS TO BE JUSTIFIED. and employees. I also had enough time to work with student organizations, write about things I always wanted to, and accept any other mutually useful collaboration opportunity. Despite the pandemic, I’ve never had a more dynamic year in my career, and I’ll remember it for having learned three new jobs. In May this year, you returned to the office. Why? What’s happening now? N: Yes. I first challenged myself in the entertainment industry, at MaxBet. Shortly after, Al Dahra Serbia came, and I couldn’t resist the challenge.

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In the meantime, I’ve learned that, if I come across something that’s attracting me, I should give myself the freedom to try it out, even if others find my choices to be weird. I returned to the corporate world with a few new skills that help me do better whatever I do, and enriched with many new acquaintances and experiences. I’m now active in all these fields, time permitting. I’m enjoying my new job a lot, especially since I’ve stopped asking myself “uncomfortable questions” that could affect my professional confidence.

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WE NEED PARADOXICAL LEADERS NOW! Ivanka Novaković, CEO & Founder, ProConsulting Organisational Development

If you want your business to grow, if you want your organization to strive, if you want your people to reach beyond their basic potential, then one of the most important leadership capacity you would need to develop is to integrate opposites and become what we tend to call integrative leader or even better “paradoxical” leader. 56 | HR World 06 | November 2021

Should we centralize or decentralize?

If so, you probably have a preference in each of these questions and most probably it won’t be much of an effort for you to make a choice. And you don’t find it strange. What would you say if I told you that making a choice in each of these questions is exactly the same as making a choice in the inhale-exhale situation?

Should we give people direction or freedom?

The right answer to all these questions is: BOTH.

Do we need structure or flexibility?

Yes, both!

Would you rather inhale or exhale for the rest of your life? Of, course this is a nonsense question, but this question is just a metaphor for many similar questions I hear in organizations everyday: Should we cut costs or invest?

Should we make decisions based on data or based on intuition? And many more… You don’t find these questions similar to the inhale-exhale question?

We need to both cut costs and invest at the same time in order to make our business sustainable. We need to both centralize some functions and decentralize others at the same time if we want an agile and flexible organization that can meet future challenges.


A well-managed polarity is one in which you capitalize on the inherent tensions between the two poles. You get the benefits of both and the synergies between them. A paradox/ polarity is managed poorly when you over-focus on one side to the neglect of the other. This is likely to occur when the issue is seen as an either/or problem.

call breathing. Why do we do that? In order to stay alive. And if we learn to do it even better than just basic (there is a whole science on breathing) we can even increase the quality of our life and improve body functions.

And they would continue doing so in swings until they’ve come across polarity management methodology and become aware that it was a polarity needed to be managed well rather than a either/or solution situation.

If you want your business to grow, if you want your organization to strive, if you want your people to reach beyond their basic potential, then one of the most important leadership capacity you would need to develop is to integrate opposites and become what we tend to call integrative leader or even better “paradoxical” leader.


We need to both give people a certain direction and give them freedom to find their own path in finding solutions and achieving results at the same time if we want talents to deliver their best.

A fundamental question to ask when encountering a difficulty is: “Is this a problem we can ‘solve’ with one solution or is it an ongoing paradox/ polarity we must manage well?”

We need both structure and flexibility within an organization at the same time if we want to grow with lowest risk.

If it is a paradox/polarity you must manage, applying traditional problem solving skills will increase the problem rather than help it.

We need both data and intuition at the same time if we want to make the best decisions.

Paradoxes, that we also call “polarities” are ongoing, chronic issues that are unavoidable and unsolvable, but manageable!

Now, you probably would ask – how can it be “both” when these are opposing choices?

I’ve witnessed cases where organizations struggled for years because leaders were not aware of the paradoxes/ polarities and were not seeing them as opposing poles needed to be managed well, but rather as opposites requiring either/or solutions.

Well, to inhale and to exhale are also opposing choices and yet we manage to integrate them into dynamics that we

One year the organization applied one solution and failed, next year applied the opposite solution and failed.

And so on…

There is significant competitive advantage for organizations that can both solve problems and manage paradoxes/polarities. Organizations that manage polarities well and use the power of tension laying between paradoxes outperform those that don’t. Here are some examples, mentioned by Berry Johnson in his article “Polarity Management”: • In Managing on the Edge, Richard Tanner Pascale studied the 43 companies identified in In Search of Excellence five years after the original research. He discovered that 14 companies retained their “Excellent” rating and the 29 that did not. The key factor that distinguished the 14 from the 29 was that they managed 7 paradoxes/polarities better. He calls it “managing contention.” • In Built to Last, Collins and Porras call it, “The Genius of the ‘AND’.” This was a central distinction between the 18 “Silver” companies that outperformed the stock market for the period from 1926 to 1990 by a

factor of 2, and the 18 “Gold” companies that outperformed the stock market during that same period by a factor of 15! The Gold companies tapped the power of polarities = “The Genius of the ‘AND’.” • In Charting the Corporate Mind, Charles Hampden-Turner calls it, “resolution of dilemmas.” His research repeatedly shows that organizations effectively managing key organizational dilemmas results in better bottom line performance than those not managing the same dilemmas well.

BENEFITS OF PARADOXICAL LEADERSHIP To be on the top of this challenge as leaders we need to upgrade our understanding of this topic and to acquire new competences and skills to firstly raise our awareness and see all paradoxes/polarities around us and secondly to know how to manage them well.

A fundamental question to ask when encountering a difficulty is: “Is this a problem we can ‘solve’ with one solution or is it an ongoing paradox/ polarity we must manage well?” November 2021 | HR World 06 | 57


Leaders that manage polarities well are enabled to: Directly upgrade effectiveness and efficiency Define and execute strategies and tactics that are more effective and sustainable Have better insights into opportunities and know how to utilize them to their maximum Implement changes effectively and increase flexibility Raise the ceiling of what is possible Have a positive impact on other people’s motivation and engagement Create environment which supports development, satisfaction and happiness Feel happier and more fulfilled in all areas of life.

in most of the cases when leaders or organizations are not able to manage polarities well, it comes from not valuing both sides of the paradox/ polarity in the same manner

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By releasing and utilizing the energy locked in the tension of polarities, visions and goals become achievable and challenges that at this moment seem “unsolvable” will finally have their dynamic solutions.

TOWARD A DYNAMIC EQUILIBRIUM How to achieve this manageable flow of contradictory polarities so important for business and life today? A well-managed polarity is one in which you capitalize on the inherent tensions between the two poles. You get the benefits of both and the synergies between them. A paradox/polarity is managed poorly when you over-focus on one side to the neglect of the other. This is likely to occur when the issue is seen as an either/or problem. Let’s see how this works on the example of one of the hottest topics in business today – innovation: There is an ongoing imperative to innovate, innovate, innovate…(I’ve even seen a T-shirt given to the employees of one company that has a print on it: “Eat, Sleep, Innovate, Repeat”) You can not only innovate without keeping your current systems, processes, products or services stable. Stability of the current state is the one thing that gives you the platform to innovate!

Without stability in the first place that will secure stable cash flow, you could never invest in innovation. Vice versa, successful innovation will lead to a new, upgraded state which will generate more income and consequently you will have more money to invest in new innovative initiatives. And so on in cycles. The leadership challenge in this situation is to manage the polarity Stability & Innovation well.

STEPS FOR MANAGING POLARITIES In managing polarities it is never “either or”, it is always “both” and it is always about dynamics & flow. Step No. 1 in achieving this is to see the polarity! To become aware that this is an ongoing paradox that needs to be managed well, not solved with either/or solution. Step No. 2 is to examine whether you as a leader (or your organization) value both sides of the respective paradox/polarity equally! This is extremely important since in most of the cases when leaders or organizations are not able to manage polarities well, it comes from not valuing both sides of the paradox/ polarity in the same manner. For example, when it comes to Structure & Flexibility there are leaders and organizations that prefer structure and would do everything in their power to reduce flexibility, while in other cases it is vice

There is significant competitive advantage for organizations that can both solve problems and manage paradoxes/ polarities. Organizations that manage polarities well and use the power of tension laying between paradoxes outperform those that don’t.

versa – flexibility is overrated and structure is considered as traditional, outdated and not very welcomed. In both cases these leaders would have a huge difficulty

in managing this polarity and will fail to grow their business and their organization since for growth we need both Structure AND Flexibility. So, examining what is your value point for both sides of one polarity is critical for all next steps! Step No. 3 would then naturally be to start valuing both sides equally! And this is easier to say than to actually do. If we prefer one pole over the other it would require serious work on our values system to make it equal or at least similar. This is, from my experience, the most difficult and yet the most critical step in the whole process since it includes work with beliefs behind the current value system. Since beliefs are products of our (mostly unconscious) experience in most of the cases I’ve worked in, the change required a certain amount of new experience that cannot be achieved without step No. 4. Step No. 4 is developing a system to manage both sides of a polarity, something that is recognized as a polarity management process that will secure dynamics and flow between opposing poles within an organization.



By implementing this process leaders and organizations are gaining some experience with both sides of the paradox/ polarity and become more convinced that they are going in the right direction.


This positive experience impacts their belief system described in the Step No. 3 and makes next steps of process implementation easier. Polarity management is an ongoing process, it never stops, it never ends. Hopefully, as time goes by you become more and more competent and successful in it. This leads to, what I like to call, an upward spiral which, when it takes its pace, can produce totally new quality far beyond any initial vision anyone could ever have imagined! The Nobel prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr once said, “How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.” That’s why we need paradoxical leaders now!

Vojislav Bajić, Business Development Consultant, BDK Advokati I Legaltech solutions Not in an ideal world. HR managers want to dedicate their time to developing people's competencies and skills, and attracting talents. Investing in people and their skills leads to the creation of an organization's culture and brand. During this process, administrative work is necessary, but it becomes a hurdle if it takes too much time from HR's core business. Moving away from administrative work resembles the struggle of switching from traditional HR to what is now called PeopleOps. The people department is about creating an environment where individuals thrive, increase their knowledge and wish to stay. Within this process, PeopleOps tend to bring non-core work to a minimum, which includes finance, payroll, legal, procurement, etc. Big multinational entities have the luxury of outsourcing this non-core work to shared service centres or delegating unwanted work to other departments in their organization. Unfortunately, not every organization has the workforce and resources to detach from the non-core work and this is where they get stuck. According to the research performed by the blinkdraft| team of BDK Advokati, which included more than 70 large and mid-sized companies in Serbia, more than 90% of HR managers deal with some sort of administrative work daily. This work often includes the production of legal documents either from scratch by HR legal teams, or by inserting data in templates made by corporate or external lawyers. The job usually means that legal experts need to draft a template and update it following the latest legislation and practice. HR needs to check if the latest version is available and then populate it as the job requires. This process usually takes considerable time and energy from both legal and HR professionals. On the other hand, expectations are high. According to Sage research "The changing face of HR" (Sage, 2020), 94% of HR professionals predict that HR will evolve into a People function. To achieve this, November 2021 | HR World 06 | 59


HRs need to bring administrative tasks to a minimum and that is where modern tech plays its role. However, the adoption of modern tech at the global level is low. The same research of Sage shows that only 43% of HR teams adopted modern tech which is provided through cloud or mobile. These findings are supported by the KPMG study "The future of HR 2019: In the Know or in the No" (KPMG, 2019) which states that only 40% of HR leaders have a digital transformation laid out in their organization.

Furthermore, Draftomat allows lawyers and consultants to create a new business service for their clients, including HR professionals. A good example is the BDK Advokati law firm which uses Draftomat for its blinkdraft| service.

MORE THAN 90% OF HR MANAGERS DEAL WITH SOME SORT OF ADMINISTRATIVE WORK DAILY. When it comes to the creation of legal documents, as non-essential HR work, automation is possible owing to software solutions that speed up processes and save time for HR professionals and their legal counterparts. An organization can deploy document automation software to turn its standardized templates into automated guides that produce final documents in a few clicks. A Serbian company Legaltech Solutions recently developed Draftomat document automation software. Draftomat works as both a web app and a Word app and it allows users to automate the production of standardized documents in their organizations. This saves precious time to end-users. They can, for instance, produce a complex employment agreement in a matter of minutes, spending 70% less time on this task, compared to the creation of the same document in Word.

HR professionals can access employment templates that are always updated and ready to use. blinkdraft| enables HR professionals to create final documents in a few clicks and invest their time in transforming their HR teams into PeopleOps. A couple of blinkdraft| customers outlined the benefits of the service through testimonials: blinkdraft| helps us create employment documents quickly and easily and it makes our HR team more independent. The service makes our business safe because templates from the blinkdraft| database are always synced with the regulations. (Mila Marićević, Team Leader, HR Generalist, Decathlon) Really effective, easy to use platform for all our legal documents. It makes our operations safer from a legal standpoint because we know that all the templates provided through blinkdraft| are always up to date with the legal norms and best practices. (Anonymous user)

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REFLECTIONS ON THE FUTURE OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Tijana Kovačević, Head of People and Organization Development, Wise How many times have you been asked to organize or design and deliver a “time management” training or “project management”, “cross-team collaboration” or perhaps “coaching”? The list of similar requests can go on and on. Even if you asked why, which data is pointing them in this direction, what is the problem they are trying to solve, and what do they expect as an outcome of the training/what will change as a result of it… best case scenario is getting the vague answer to most of those questions, if not actually feeling hostility on the other side - who are we to ask the questions?! - they know best what they need and we should execute.

The problem We’ve been thinking “training” for far too long, even if our department was officially called “Learning and Development”, “Leadership & Capability Development”, “Organizational Development”, most of our interventions would be limited to design, development, delivery or procurement of training programs, at best offering coaching and mentoring programs too. Then, whenever budgeting starts, we start getting those unpleasant questions about measuring training effectiveness and impact on business results and overall ROI. This is where we start pulling

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data in panic, formulas, four levels of evaluation, hours of training, number of participants… what not. How do we prove we, as L&D experts, are still relevant to the business and not completely useless? Why is this no longer working? The goal and outcome of “learning and development” are not learning itself, it is the job performance. Even when organizations invest in a “continuous learning culture” they don’t do it to make their employees better students /learners, they do it for performance and productivity. The same thing goes for engagement - organizations invest in engagement to achieve productivity, not happiness. So, the end goal of all our interventions is performance improvement, whether that is on the individual, team or organizational level. The fact is - performance is a very complex equation, not only achieved by the development of skills or knowledge. Imagine a person 165 cm tall trying to change the light bulb on the three-meter high ceiling. After 15 minutes of failed attempts to stretch their arms beyond reach, a “manager” comes in and says “you are obviously not capable of changing the light bulb. You don’t know how to do it!”. The person says “but, I don’t have a ladder”. Another version of this story would be trying to change the lightbulb without success while there is no electricity.


The moral of the story - for an individual, a team, and an organization to perform, there are many factors we need to consider. More often than not, these are not just new skills and knowledge.

Performance Improvement The graph below shows 6 performance improvement factors that can affect individual, group and organizational performance. Think about yourself for a moment - what do you need to enhance your performance? I bet you didn’t think only about knowledge and skills. The truth is, we need to explore the problem holistically and understand the root causes so that we can deploy a set of right interventions. Oftentimes, this is a combination of things, rather than one thing - this is called performance consluting.

Performance consulting Performance consulting is a results-focused and solution-neutral intervention that aims to determine reasons for the gaps in business and performance results. After root causes and key factors that influence this gap have been identified, solution selection occurs, followed by implementation and evaluation.


6 Performance Improvement Factors for Enhancing Individual, Group and Organiza onal Performance Physical Resources Examples: Tools, materials, technology, equipment, improved ligh ng, adequate project budgets, supplies, etc.

Knowledge Examples: Training, job aids, coaching, mentoring, OJT, con nuing educa on, etc.

Structure/Process Examples: Logical repor ng rela onships, management support, quality inputs, logical steps to follow, realis c policies, a meaningful mission statement, etc.

Informa on Examples: Feedback on your performance, clear standards, customer feedback, reliable data, reference materials, etc.

Mo ves Examples: Recogni on, performance-based pay, bonuses, benefits, job security, pres ge of posi on, opportuni es for advancement, etc.

Capacity (Wellness) Examples: Boiler health care system, more physicaI exercise, more relaxa on me, stress management, be er dietary habits, etc.


Solution: It’s not easy. Invite the rest of the HR colleagues as well as the business stakeholders to join the discussion. Gather all the data (engagement, employee performance, business results), organize structured interviews with key performers and business leaders. Holistic solutions require collaboration.

Even though this seems like common sense, there are multiple challenges to introducing this way of working: Problem: Managers, stakeholders and the rest of your HR colleagues are used to making orders from L&D. Solution: Schedule conversations to introduce your internal clients to this approach. This can be as simple as showing this chart about 6 performance improvement factors. No one so far told me they didn’t think this was true. Problem: Being able to get to the root cause of the problem and identify the right intervention.

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Manage Change Influences - Client, Cultural, Organiza onal

Determine Desired Performance Business Performance and Analysis Key Performance Analysis •

Determine goals, roles and project details

Gain management commitment to Human Performance Improvement approach

Determine Who, How, and What will be measured

Iden fy organiza onal managerial, and key performer cri cal outcomes

Influence Analysis Formulate and test hypotheses for: •

Workplace and Structure

Work Processes Management and Organiza onal Support

Determine key work processes and tasks

Conduct structured observa on

Iden ty informa on and decision processes

Technology and Resources

Human Resources and Selec on

Learning and Development

Personal Mo va on


Solu on Selec on •

Iden fy primary and secondary influences on performance

Iden fy barriers and enablers to desired performance

Align solu ons to specific performance needs of workplace

Recommend solu on set

Actual/Current performance state

Solu on Planning and Implementa on

Evalua on and Results •

Evaluate solu on set effec veness o en

Develop a holis c implementa on strategy

Evaluate actual vs. desired performance

Align organiza onal func ons to the plan

Elicit feedback

Obtain stakeholder approval and support

Make con nuous improvements

Design, develop, and test solu ons

Determine if management expecta ons have been met

Implement solu ons and track results

©2015 Associa on for Talent Development All Rights Reserved For use by permission only

Source: Problem: Training (knowledge & skills) is not part of the solution - shall I step back since I am “just” an L&D person? Solution: No, for God’s sake, no! Accept the challenge and take up the role of the project manager to follow through with the performance improvement intervention. Problem: They still want just training. Solution: That’s OK if this is really a part of the solution. If you believe and have the gap analysis to prove that training is not part of the solution, challenge back or at least explain to your stakeholders why doing a training might even be counterproductive. We’ve all been there when they send us a demotivated dysfunctional team for a “training” and then training ends up being a venting session about actual problems these people are facing and how annoyed they are for being sent to “learn and develop”. Present your gap analysis to your stakeholders and let them know which combination of solutions/ interventions would solve the performance problem they have. Problem: And what if no one wants training/learning & development, what do I do - do I still have a job?

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Solution: People will always need learning and development, however, to truly tackle the problems of performance, we need to do more than that. The truth is, you already don’t have a job and most likely your job does not look like it used to 10, 15 years ago. With learning marketplaces such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, just to name a few, they are already changing massively what you had to do from scratch (design and develop formal learning sessions). Now you are probably more focused on the enabling side of L&D such as coaching and mentoring programs, learning culture to inspire employee ownership of development, tech solutions or designing performance & talent/career management frameworks, skills based workforce planning etc. The L&D profession is ever-evolving and to be at the forefront, we must be the best “continuous learners” in the organisation and also be honest with ourselves when things are no longer working the way we are used to. Finally, Performance consulting/improvement is not something you “do”, it’s a way of thinking, a mindset to adopt - looking at problems holistically and working collaboratively with the business to solve them.

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Siniša Soćanin, Brand Writer, HOOLOOVOO November 2021 | HR World 06 | 67


As HOOLOOVOO gets closer to having one hundred employees (while you’re reading this, we’re probably already there), the most frequent question on management and support teams meetings is: how to grow while maintaining the same values and culture that enabled this growth in the first place? How to preserve the authenticity of HOOLOOVOO from the time it was a company of a dozen enthusiasts? What is our authenticity, anyway? Are we even authentic? What does it really mean when it comes to companies? “Be yourself ”. We’ve been hearing this popular self-help wisdom for decades. It’s obviously nonsensical. Who else can you be? Sometimes it features an extension: “Everyone else is already taken”. Hand-in-hand with “stand out from the crowd”, “liberate yourself from constraints”, etc. It is a story about originality, selfactualization, authenticity.



We are just an IT company, so we dare not delve into existentialist philosophy that launched authenticity to its modern heights. Similarly, we will not elaborate on how an extremely commodified culture of recent decades branded authenticity as buying the same brands that thousands of others do. And we will certainly not muse on the fact that you will never expect your doctor to be too authentic when treating you, or need an overly authentic firefighter when your house is on fire. In some situations, you need something expected, someone rule-bound and reliable.

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But as an IT company, we do want to stand out. When recruiting developers, it helps. When trying to recruit seniors, it can prove vital. They can see through BS. So, our authenticity needs to be real, not a marketing stunt. If an ad “stands out” by screaming or is disturbing, “larger than life” or simply fake, it will do you no good. How should we do it, then?




Just recently, we threw a corporate party in our backyard (pandemic rules applied, of course). Several dozen developers enjoyed it. Looking at them, a couple of us commented: if someone just randomly dropped in and saw this, and we asked that person what these people do for a living, they would have never guessed. No two people were alike: overall appearance, hair, clothes, styles, music taste, conversation topics, the way they danced or didn’t. How do you make an ad for all of them? How do you make a company for them?

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CHERISHING OUR CORPORATE CHILDHOOD Just as personal authenticity probably has a lot to do with childhood, we can suppose that a company’s culture could be probably understood along the same lines. When HOOLOOVOO started, a bit more than half a decade ago, it was just a team of several developers, with a CEO and an HR, and it functioned perfectly. Everyone was great at their job and people knew each other well. Nobody was bossing around - all team members had the autonomy and freedom to do their thing, but also great support and true teamwork. If someone had an idea, others would listen. If someone had a problem, any kind of problem, the same applied. They were dedicated and professional, with delivery at the top level, but also playful. There was no need for strict rules and procedures. They felt at home. They produced quality and had fun while doing it.





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Some of these people are still here. When the time came to build a brand around that small team, they had a reflex to preserve the atmosphere. The name HOOLOOVOO came up: a super-intelligent shade of the colour blue from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Seemed both smart and perfectly absurd. Especially as the furniture was all green. From this distance, it seems almost like psychological resistance to becoming a serious corporate entity, as it would feel like betraying the original culture of complete honesty, team play and friendship. Treason of the team’s corporate childhood.



Over the years, HOOLOOVOO tried defining these original values, making them official, integrating them into “our philosophy”, “about us” texts, brand wheels, “pillars”, strategies, recipes, manifests of culture... Not sure how much it all helped, but all that time, HOOLOOVOO grew. Developers answered our calls. People left us very, very rarely. We knew we were doing something right.

With seniors, we hit a bullseye. After a carefully targeted campaign, we had plenty of applicants, but much more importantly, we had many more interviews with seniors with skills, personalities and values that match ours. The campaign got us The Best Digital Campaign award at the 2018 Kaktus Festival of Integrated Communications.

During the last year, we hired 40 new colleagues. In that same period, only three people left us. Actually, two left Serbia - one moved to Canada, the other to Sweden. Can’t beat that. The third went back to his former firm, to pursue new projects with old friends.


AUTHENTIC MESSAGE We can’t tell how many of our candidates and employees really read our “pillars” and strategies. What we do know is that they liked our communication. If we really stand out, we owe a big part of it to our “Matori” campaign from 2017. “Matori” means “old man”, but it can’t be reasonably translated. The expression implies not only experience, but also an authentic personality and respect. It started as a recruitment ad for senior developers, a creative way to say we need people with experience. It changed the tone. Instead of using boring, technical and fancy titles and words, we made it frank, friendly and fun. Just as the original HOOLOOVOO was. And we managed to find a perfect model to photograph.

We had a name, a model, and an award. We hurried to catch our own train. In that situation, what else would any self-respecting IT company do other than launching a fashion brand?

BRANDS WITHIN BRANDS In 2018, we launched Matori hoodies. Another bullseye among developers, employees and beyond. Not only developers. T-shirts followed, and later a kids’ collection, socks... all available on Next to our model and his female counterpart “Matora”, we used employees for our lookbooks. Nobody had to be forced. We had to promise some people they would be models next time.



This whole story about preserving the roots of growing HOOLOOVOO and Matori may sound like a quest for authenticity. In reality, it was all about matchmaking. We happen to be good, so we kept getting more projects. Therefore, we needed to find more developers. Also, we needed them to be happy, to do their best and enjoy it, to stay with us long-term. So, we had to communicate our culture and do it in a way that illustrates it. To be believable, to build trust. In other words, what works in love, works in employer branding, too. For some time, Matori was separated from HOOLOOVOO as a brand. We did not hide or shy away from it, but it seemed reasonable to separate them in communication. HOOLOOVOO is an IT company, after all. As much as Matori is basically employer branding, its connection with HOOLOOVOO seemed best if left unspoken, especially since it was obvious. But sometimes, when something works, it works in ways you never even imagined…

THE BEST EMPLOYER FOR AN IDEAL EMPLOYEE WE KNEW WHAT WE WANTED: TO BECOME THE BEST IT EMPLOYER IN SERBIA. NOW WE FINALLY KNOW FOR WHOM WE NEED TO BE THE BEST. Matori was intended to be just a nice photo and a cool message, but its success told us something about him that was much more important. We talked about it a lot and started using it in internal communication. We defined Matori as a persona. And once we saw him as a colleague and a professional, we figured it out. All that time,

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he was an embodiment of our values. He was HOOLOOVOO, but in attitude, style and behaviour, rather than in “pillars”. Soon, Matori became the basis of our foundations. We knew what we wanted: to become the best IT employer in Serbia. Now we finally know for whom we need to be the best. As an imagined ideal employee, Matori now serves as a starting point for everything we do: advertise, recruit, onboard, communicate, have fun… Support teams finally have a reference point to conceive their activities. Matori. He was there all along.

MATORI, FOUNDATIONS, FRAMEWORK AND THE PURPOSE He is an experienced, skilled professional, a senior. Independent, fond of his work, loves responsibility. Needs no micromanagement (hates it). Wants to do his job impeccably, to learn and develop. At work, he needs to feel good and behave naturally, just like at home or in a bar with friends. Basically, he wants to work with friends. HOOLOOVOO wants to hire him, make him happy and keep him for a long time. We do it in three ways: 1. We focus on Matori. Basically, we give him what he needs and let him work. 2. We build great teams and give them great autonomy, with maximum support and guidance. That’s how Matori likes it. We believe it leads to the best possible results, and our experience proves it. Each of our teams is a copy of the original, small HOOLOOVOO from our corporate childhood, with HOOLOOVOO acting like a Board overseeing the work of autonomous teams and making sure they stay in synergy.


3. We developed a set of values and principles common for all teams and called it HLV Framework. It makes sure all teams have the same feel and nurture the same principles: functioning based on agreement instead of bans and strict procedures, a friendly atmosphere where they can feel good and be themselves, a common drive for top quality through open communication, coaching, constant improvements and striving for efficiency, and a spirit of respect, cooperation and having fun along the way - with lots of honesty, helping each other and joking, but always respectfully.

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Besides the foundations and the Framework, we do our best to be guided, at all times, by our brand purpose: we want good people to kick ass1 at their job, grow and enjoy. If we are authentic, that is only because we are true to what we believe in, to Matori and his needs, to the foundations of what we are and to our purpose.


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Not everyone has to be a perfect Matori, of course, but he is what we all strive to be, we as individual professionals, teams and the company itself.

Our campaigns, our blog, social media, presence at conferences, everything that embodies our voice, stems from the same source we described above. As a result, people who find HOOLOOVOO interesting are those who we actually want to be interested in, those who share our values. The same goes for our clients. You can call it authenticity. In reality, we only want our people to be and feel authentic at work.




Just like the existentialists that “invented” it, authenticity embodied in Matori for us became the cornerstone S of our ethics. It’s the PER freedom and friendship, opposite of “bullshit”. It’s aboutLenjoying O VE dedication, quality and care Efervour, but also safeguarding it with D HO freedom. In our mind, authenticity should not be for other people’s OLO OV narcissistic and self-absorbed, m ” catchphrase may OO as the “be yourself eaand a growing one. mislead you. Especially if you’re 20 a company, t 16 one In 2021, the year we are approaching the hundred-employees mark, developers voted us as one of the top ten IT employers in Belgrade. We have been among the best places to work in IT in Belgrade for two years in a row. So far, it seems to be working. 1 We wanted to say “excel”, but it was too boring and therefore inappropriate for HOOLOOVOO.

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OKRs METHOD – A BRIEF HOW-TO GUIDE Miljana Šundić, HR and People Operations Manager, TCP Software

OKRs or Objectives and Key Results are a popular management method or a framework for goal setting used for helping leaders understand how their strategic work ties to company success. It can encourage alignment, promote collaboration, clarify priorities, and empower employees, teams, and organizations to unlock their full potential. This framework was introduced by John Doerr, the author of the book Measure What Matters, who considers OKRs a mindset for setting meaningful and audacious goals. OKRs rose to prominence after being adopted by big tech companies, such as Google and celebrities like Bono.


OKRs BASICS The O stands for Objective(s) and should answer the question of what you are trying to accomplish. The objective should be a brief, memorable statement, the essence of what you want to achieve. Objectives should also be actionable, time-bound and ambitious (i.e. stretchy). The main difference of OKRs from other goal-setting tools and techniques is the aim to set very ambitious goals. The stretchiness of objectives is what enables teams to accomplish more - by going beyond their comfort zones and learning from both their successes and failures. The KR is short for Key Results and should answer the question of how you will measure whether or not you have achieved the objective. Key Results should be clear, quantifiable and results or outcome-focused. Ideally, there should be between three and five key results per objective. Marissa Mayer, former Yahoo! CEO, was

OKRs SHOULD BE TREATED AS AN ALIGNMENT TOOL, NOT PERFORMANCE GOALS. THEY SHOULD NOT MEASURE INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE BUT ENABLE ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE. known to say that unless it has a number, it’s not a Key Result. An easy way to remember how to set proper OKRs is by using:

We will (Objective), as measured by (Key Results). Example. To be more specific, a sales team Objective could be: O. Create a lasting sales engine. Key Results could be: KR1. Leads conversion rate increased to 85%; KR2. Enterprise expansion revenue closed at 150.000 USD; KR3. 1000 new SMB customers.

TCP SOFTWARE OKRs ROLLOUT TCP Software is an example of a company that implemented the OKR framework in Q1 2021. The goals the company was trying to accomplish were to ensure focus and commit to priorities, align and connect for teamwork, track accountability, and stretch for amazing results. OKR framework was selected because it promotes: 1. Alignment – that organization is working on the right things; 2. Accountability – recognition of accomplishments by key stakeholders; 3. Transparency – enabling everyone to see goals and progress across the organization; 4. Insight – identifying challenges to accomplishment and course-correcting accordingly. This was done by selecting a thematic goal that is singular, qualitative, temporary, and shared across the leadership team and, ultimately, by the entire organization. According to Patrick Lencioni, the author of the book Advance, every organization that wants to create a sense of alignment and focus, should have a single top priority within a given timeframe. Within TCP, this organizational goal is called Rally Cry and answers the question: What is most important right now? Organizational OKRs are set as defining objectives for Rally Cry. These objectives are also temporary, shared by the team and detailed - to ensure the Rally Cry isn’t just a slogan, but rather a specific and understandable call to action. Some of the guidelines TCP used at this stage are the following: • Create the smallest number of Objectives possible. Lots of priorities is the same as no priorities. Rally Cry typically has four to six defining Objectives. • Make OKRs transparent to the whole company: it communicates priorities and allows self-organization to achieve the goals.

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• Every KR should have an owner and appropriate metrics to track progress against. • Set goals to be difficult and ambitious enough that you’ll often fail – success would be an achievement of around 70%, not 100% (70% rule). Achievement of 100% would indicate that goals were not ambitious or stretchy enough. In addition, it should be noted that OKRs should be treated as an alignment tool, not performance goals. They should not measure individual performance but enable organizational performance. Also, they should not be mere checklists of daily job priorities. Therefore, to reinforce this, they are divorced from pay or bonus.

THE MAIN DIFFERENCE OF OKRs FROM OTHER GOALSETTING TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES IS THE AIM TO SET VERY AMBITIOUS GOALS. The actual implementation started with executive team kick-off and rollout followed by extensive training and input of approved OKRs to a selected platform (Ally). The next stage included extended leadership team sessions – presentation of OKRs, training and 1:1 meetings of executives with direct reports to draft their individual OKRs. Next, a global management roundtable session was conducted to introduce OKRs and the Rally Cry to all people managers in the company and address any questions. Finally, all employees were presented with Rally Cry and defining organizational objectives at the All-Hands meeting. Regular checkin meetings with all objectives or key results owners were scheduled with weekly cadence. Progress against organizational OKRs is shared with all employees monthly, at the All-Hands meetings. Employee’s reactions to the OKRs framework have been predominantly positive, as they have been able to better understand company priorities and focus for the quarter, as well as how their contributions fit into the greater picture. Some of them adopted it for personal or developmental goals. Over time, employees became

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more comfortable with setting quite ambitious goals and practising the 70% rule (failing to complete them 100%) and that led to some amazing achievements on individual and team levels. Since the implementation in Q1 2021, the main changes to the process have been related to polishing the way the executive team sets Objectives and assigns Key Results to owners. It takes time to build that operational muscle - learn how to set but also propagate OKRs through the organization. OKRs proved to be complementary to the continuous performance management process and agile methodology practices that have been already in place in the company. They added value in terms of unlocking additional performance potential (through better alignment, shared ownership and pushing beyond comfort zones). The success of OKRs implementation is measured through quarterly reviews where the leadership team discusses if OKRs created enough alignment, accountability, transparency and insights. If it feels awkward and imperfect even after a few quarters, that’s OK. It takes time to get to the place where the organization is accomplishing the maximum benefits of OKR methodology.



Ethics and Business Integrity Raško Radovanović, Partner and Head of the Competition and Compliance Practice, Radovanović Stojanović & Partners

Recent years, especially in Serbia and the region, seem to have brought an increasing interest of the business community for matters like compliance, ethics, and more widely, business integrity. Areas like anti-bribery, anti-money-laundering, antitrust and conflict of interest have been in focus, representing more standard areas of a company’s compliance policy aimed at addressing purely legal risks. Although COVID-19 related topics dominated in 2020, one relatively novel international topic gained a fair amount of attention last year – sustainability, both environmental and social. Companies’ attention and reporting procedures are, as it seems, now increasingly covering a wide spectrum of environmental, social and governance matters (ESG), thus expanding the attention from purely legal risks to more reputational ones as well. The common root of environmental, social and governance topics is ethics. The breadth of companies’ attention for different topics depends on the way companies perceive, define and implement ethical principles in their day-to-day business.

The Meaning Probably the most common way of explaining ethics is by referring to it as a system of principles that guide how people make decisions and lead their lives. More profoundly, ethics can be

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defined as "the attempt to arrive at an understanding of the nature of human values, of how we ought to live, and of what constitutes right conduct". (Norman, 1998). Integrity is understood as a consistent application of ethical principles in life

and everyday situations, i.e. "consistency between beliefs, decisions and actions, and continued adherence to values and principles". (Visser et al., 2007). Ethics therefore consist of principles that correspond to basic moral values that guide behavior,

while integrity assumes that we should indeed carry out ethical principles in our daily lives and activities. Business integrity consequently assumes adherence to ethical principles in business and day-to-day activities of a company.

Relationship with the Law The law encapsules in a strict written form basic rules of behaviour that are to a great extent based on moral and ethical values. Although the law and ethics overlap, they are not the same thing. Something that is unethical may be legal, like for example refusing to help another person in danger. Rules of law are enforced by the state and the breaches are sanctioned, which is not the case with ethical principles. One could say that ethics contains a broader set of rules than law. Only such behaviour that is regarded by the society as breaching the most important ethical values is prohibited by law.

Why is this all important Having briefly revisited the relationship between ethics, integrity and law, it becomes obvious that compliance policies aimed at addressing legal requirements alone do not say much about the values of a company i.e, the values the management and employees should be sharing and observing in their daily activities. Such policies therefore only partially reflect what should have been the ethical principles of the company. As Richard Breeden, former chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, noted, “It is not an adequate ethical standard

to aspire to get through the day without being indicted.” (Paine, 1994). A strategy incorporating also ethical principles and integrity holds companies to a higher standard. (Ibid, 2005). While compliance is typically rooted in avoiding legal sanctions, a company's integrity is based on the concept of selfgovernance in accordance with a set of guiding principles and values and an environment that supports ethically sound behaviour and instills a sense of shared accountability among employees. This need for a more strategic, holistic and integrated approach is becoming evident. While some still fail to see any immediate financial benefits of a broader environmental and social awareness and incorporation of the corresponding values into the overall compliance perspective of a company, research and metrics are demonstrating the quantitative and qualitative impact: for example, reputation risk – which is to some extent embedded in every type of compliance risk – is increasingly recognized by C-suites and boards as a key strategic risk because it attaches itself to other kinds of risk and acts as an “amplifier risk”. (Bonime-Blanc, 2014). From a purely practical and short-term perspective, lack of a proper compliance function in place may have many consequences, the financial one being only one of them. First of all, companies face

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immense reputational risk towards business partners, customers and the wider public. That can easily have a very detrimental impact on the brand, perception in the public and finally sales. Secondly, companies risk legal enforcement, which assumes lengthy investigations that disrupt normal day-to-day business activities, requires either reallocation of existing resources to deal with the investigation or outsourcing these requirements to external consultants and potentially also triggers invalidity of existing commercial arrangements. Finally, there is a financial element i.e, fines, damages and all sorts of different costs companies with compliance issues have to count with, including but not limited to legal costs of properly tackling the investigation and the compliance issue, and organisational costs of having to rearrange the previous way of doing business.


Couple of notable examples To give one example of a very basic compliance case where purely legal issues were at play: a fast-growing local company with around 1,000 customers, the agreements with which were renegotiated on an annual basis and following the standard, 10-year old company template, was caught with more than 300 customer agreements containing a very simple but prohibited anti competitive clause. This clause could have been easily spotted and eliminated, had there been a compliance function in place. The management was however completely unaware of the existence and the meaning of this provision. As a consequence, as soon as the news about the investigation of the competition regulator broke, the company was faced with numerous press articles and accusations from different sides, customers threatened with contract termination and sales dropped. Finally, after a two-year long investigation, the company also had to pay a significant monetary fine. This could have all been easily avoided, had someone identified the prohibited clause and reported it to the management. Another, more complex, example is an international one involving Danske Bank (2018) in one of the largest money-laundering scandals ever. During a nine-year period from 2007 until

2016, due to a series of major deficiencies in its governance and control systems, Denmark’s biggest bank failed to spot that billions of euros of illicit funds from countries including Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Russia were being laundered through its Estonian branch. The investigation also found that the compliance and risk functions of the Estonian branch did not have a satisfactory degree of independence, that the IT platform of the Estonian branch was not covered by the same customer systems and transaction and risk monitoring as the rest of the bank and that the branch operated with its own culture and systems and too independently from the rest of the group without adequate control or management focus. Danske bank received a tip from a whistleblower in 2013, but despite follow-ups by internal audit and compliance, management failed to take quick and decisive action. As a consequence, Danske’s then-CEO was charged by the Danish prosecutors for his involvement in the illicit practices, the bank is subject to ongoing criminal and regulatory investigations in Denmark, Estonia, France and the United States, it is facing 276 separate legal actions in Denmark brought by individuals and groups of investors worth around USD 1 billion while an additional legal action estimated to be worth around USD 420

million was initiated against the former CEO by 72 institutional investors in 2020. (Hodge, 2020)

Important takeaways The only way to run the business is the ethical way. This ensures longterm viability of business operations, limits the risk and ensures value. Compliance starts at the top. It will be most effective in organisations that emphasise standards of honesty and integrity and where top management leads by example. Compliance should be a part of the culture of the organization – through different trainings, guides and other measures it must be delivered to each employee and inspire each and every function. To this end, written compliance policy, regular trainings and checks and regular reporting requirements must be in place.

REFERENCES Norman, R. (1998). The moral philosophers: An introduction to ethics. Visser, W., Matten, D., Pohl, M., & Tolhurst, N. (2010). The A to Z of corporate social responsibility. John Wiley & Sons. Paine, L. S. (1994). Managing for organizational integrity. Harvard business review, 72(2), 106-17. Bonime-Blanc, A. (2014). Integrating “ESG” issues into global risk, compliance & integrity programme. An interactive Q&A with governance, risk and reputation strategist Dr Andrea Bonime-Blanc - Reuters Bruun & Hjejle (2018). Report on the NonResident Portfolio at Danske Bank’s Estonian branch. Hodge, N. (2020). How Danske is cleaning up after a €200B money laundering scandal, Compliance Week.


hr week


ATRIA GROUP SEE SAVILLE ASSESSMENT – UK From personal experience to partnership and new dimensions of assessment A new, exclusive methodology, important for the entire HR community in the field of talent and performance management, appeared on our market. It is a Saville Assessment methodology, one of the leading in the areas of psychometric tests, assessment of potential and employee performance. In the following interview, Bogdanka Ranđelović, a Marketing Specialist, asked Peđa Jovanović, a Senior Partner at Atria Group SEE, a few questions about this important partnership, the importance of the methodology itself and about the usable value of its programs. • Tell us why Atria Group SEE decided to partner with Saville Assessment - UK? How did the path from an idea to realization go? It’s an interesting question. Business partnerships are like a marriage, it is not enough for one party only to decide, both parties must want to enter into the partnership. Some people still define marriage as an economic union of two people, therefore, a business partnership comes as a loose economic union of two parties. So both us and Saville Assessment see business interest in our partnership. I would say that with this partnership we have a win-win situation. Our interests in this partnership are to bring one of the best psychometric tools to the ex-Yu market and thus enable our clients to manage the talents in the organization better and more efficiently. If the foundation is well laid, the effectiveness of our development programs becomes greater. Also, the fact that Saville Assessment is owned by Willis Tower Watson further raises the credibility of the programs. The interest of Saville Assessment is to have a strong local partner who has many years of experience in development and psychometry, and who can support the implementation of projects that take place regionally. Once we recognized that we have common interests and a similar view on business development in the region, the implementation was quite simple. • Who is the target group of this methodology and what are the advantages of Saville Assessment products? Primarily those are HR professionals and consultants who need a reliable method for assessing the potential and motivation of individuals.

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As for the trump cards, there are more of them, the most important is that Saville assessments are available in over 40 languages, that it uses very precise adaptive questionnaires in which each person receives questions that are adapted to the previously given answers, etc. One of the significant trump cards is that the founder of Saville Assessment, Peter Saville, is a person who is one of the founders of SHL. For him, the Saville Assessment project was an improvement of existing products and a step forward from what was a common practice. • How important is the use of such tools in the HR industry and what results can users expect after implementing the Saville Assessment methodology in their company / HR processes? Well, to someone it matters to someone it doesn't. Our clients are leading domestic and international companies that invest a lot of energy and time in employee development. Saville Assessment can help companies from setting competencies for different positions, through assessing the potential and motivation of individuals by pre-defined competencies, to performance assessments by pre-defined competencies. • How and where can users get acquainted with the programs you offer? It is best to come to our open training and promotion of methodology. This fall, we plan to promote the Saville Assessment for our clients, but we also plan open training: Competency-Based Interview, Ability & Personality test. It is particularly interesting that at the beginning of November, our colleagues from London will hold a certification training for a selected group of consultants and HR professionals. • Given that the experience of candidates during the selection and recruitment process is one of the crucial factors influencing the choice of employer, what would you say to candidates who are going through the recruitment process using the Saville Assessment methodology?

That's right, the candidate's experience is very important. Research by the Talent Acquisition Quarterly Journal (2020) shows us that, when changing jobs, candidates generally hesitate between multiple offers, an average of three. Recruitment is a two-way process, and the company's image and the way in which the recruitment and selection process is organized are crucial for both parties. Candidates can be assured that companies using the Saville Assessment methodology tools have a precisely defined competency model for all positions, which brings them a comprehensive approach and greater objectivity of assessment in a structured and fair way. All information about candidates is systematically evaluated, and through the Wave personality questionnaire, they will receive the most reliable assessment and feedback based on the potential of their competencies, matching of motives and talents, as well as the desired work environment that is ideal for them and company culture. This information certainly makes a difference, doesn’t it? • Finally, tell us what insights have you personally gained through Wave personality questionnaires and the solutions that this methodology offers? I was intrigued by the Wave questionnaire that showed me a couple of dimensions of my personality that other questionnaires failed to recognize. As an example, one of the dimensions is the propensity for analytics. Wave, as well as other questionnaires, nicely assessed my talent to demonstrate analytical behaviors. My natural potential for demonstrating analytical behaviors is greater than 70% of people in the same group. However, what Wave was able to assess, and the other questionnaires could not, is my motivation to demonstrate this competence today. On a scale of 1 to 10, it is a pure one. This means that I should avoid any positions or jobs that involve a lot of detail and analysis because, even though I have this talent, at this stage of my life my motivation to demonstrate this talent is almost non-existent. I experienced similar surprises in the dimensions of competitiveness and openness to feedback. So my personal experience, plus a good business opportunity, led me to the decision to enter into a partnership with Saville Assessment.

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e r a D y it c i t n e Auth orld ad of Delivery, BPS W Vanja Jakovljević, He

On a more personal note, and regardless of the individual complexity of the projects we work on, we always tend to communicate a lot with all of our team members, so that we can understand and support each other and create the atmosphere that we want to be enjoyable for everyone. Now, five years after our first recruitment steps in Serbia, we couldn’t be prouder of our people and all the accomplishments that are standing behind our words. Having that in mind, we wanted to share with you an insight into our perception of the market, an abundance of opportunities, and things that matter the most to the young people striving for success. We believe that with the right people, integrity, and most of

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all – authenticity, anything can be achieved and everyone can find their place in this rapidly changing, hectic world of business. Working in an IT recruitment company gives us the opportunity to see a wide range of markets for IT companies that are changing rapidly in our country. As BPS World cooperates with many IT and Gaming companies and we meet new clients every day, recruiters often find themselves in a situation where they have to learn a lot about the client in a short time in order to present them in the best possible way to the candidates who are interested in a certain role. Although the goal is to be objective and to present the company, job, and working conditions realistically, sometimes it can be quite difficult, and sometimes easier to achieve this goal. We realized that the difficulty of this job is greatly influenced by the authenticity

of the company itself, which we aim to present, and it is inevitable that everyone has a subjective experience when it comes to “how interesting“ working for a specific client would be. In the sea of companies ​​ with frequent hiring schedules, today it is a great challenge for each employer to stand out among others while it seems that everyone is participating in a race of offering better salaries, benefits, and projects. In the end, we come to the conclusion that there is no standard "average salary" of an employee in the IT sector, that employees are overwhelmed with benefits that they do not need, and the projects are very good, but the organization or atmosphere within them is bad. In the end, our candidates report that everyone offers and looks the same to them, so it is very difficult for them to make a decision on who will be their next employer.



t n e r e f if D e to B y r o t s d l r o W S BP

Although candidates are more interested in companies that develop their own product, than the ones that are outsourcing for others, everyone eventually manages to hire a candidate (of the seniority they aimed for or a lower one). There are also companies with their product that find it difficult to attract people, and even outsourcing companies for which attracting the right talent is not a problem. We wondered, like many others, what is it that affects the desirability of the employer and we came to the conclusion that it is the authenticity of a company, that naturally comes from the authenticity of its leaders. Such leaders create a work atmosphere in which there is trust among employees and everyone feels they are contributing to the higher goal of the company. At least that's how it looks to us. With such leaders, who have a transparent approach, we enjoy working more. They recognize the values ​​that are not imposed but have naturally formed over time in a company and defined

the brand and the seal of the company accordingly.

AUTHENTIC LEADERS, THOSE WHO BRING THEIR PERSONAL VALUES AND BELIEFS AND STAND FIRMLY BEHIND THEM, AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME, ARE THE BEST KEY RESOURCE ONE COMPANY CAN HAVE. We have also noticed that it is very important when our clients assign the right people to be in charge of the selection process. Authentic leaders, those who bring their personal values ​​and beliefs and stand firmly behind them, and encourage others to do the same, are

the best key resource one company can have. We often attend situations in which a candidate accepts an offer with lower conditions, just because he/she really liked the person or the team he/she will be working with. People and their authenticity attract other people.

okay! Upcoming talents strive to find a meaning that cannot be found in relationships based on the questions "Where do you see yourself in five years" and "How do you work under pressure", they do not tolerate socially desirable answers and value honesty and humanity above all.

That authenticity, both of the company and its leaders, means understanding and acknowledging their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as their employees and IT employers must be open to change for the better and adapt, even though sometimes it is difficult for them. It also means that employers need to understand when talented people with high potential have a better chance of developing outside of their organization.

Our clients, who understand and recognize these emerging market norms and foster a culture of authenticity in their companies, are the ones who have the luxury of choosing their employees.

In the race of "becoming the best employer ever", authenticity is usually lost, because being authentic means being imperfect and being aware that our attitudes and values can bring people to us or scare them away. And in a world of new talented generations flooding the job market - that’s completely

BPS World doo is a recruitment agency focused on delivering a range of talent solutions to the IT, engineering, and gaming sectors for clients in more than 30 countries. Our international structure allows us to deliver a seamless service experience for multinational organizations wherever the stakeholders are based, and allows us to work within their preferred geographic, legal, and time zones.

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The research has been done in the period July-November 2020 and the sample consists of 75 relevant company representatives with different levels of use of coaching. The research was conducted via online interviewing platforms. Most of the sample consists of respondents coming from international (76%) and big companies (75%) with approximately equally distributed types of industries.

Market research: experiences, attitudes and needs of companies related to coaching The research has been done in the period July-November 2020 and the sample consists of 75 relevant company representatives with different levels of use of coaching. The research was conducted via online interviewing platforms. Most of the sample consists of respondents coming from international (76%) and big companies (75%) with approximately equally distributed types of industries. The aim of this research was to obtain current data regarding the position, relevance and importance of coaching methodology and the coaching profession in Serbia.

Small 5%

Big 75%

Medium 20% N=75 company representative

Graph 2. Company size


Domes�c 24%







Interna�onal 76%



N=75 company representative

Graph 1. Type of Company




Technology Holding

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Financial and insurance

8% 3%

Graph 3. Type of industry

N=75 company representative


Coaching in Serbia today

Attitudes towards professional coaching

Reasons for starting cooperation with coaches: 3 most frequent reasons for starting cooperation of individual/team sessions with coaches are: improvement of management skills (71%), optimization of individual and team performances (66%), and preparation for taking higher positions (61%). Reasons related to personal and professional development (improvement of communication skills, increasing selfconfidence, productivity and expanding career opportunities) are the second-tier importance to company representatives.

Average rate







13% 5% Mo�va�on increase (n=61)



2% Communica�on improvement (n=61)

3% Time management improvement (n=60)


7% Produc�vity increase (n=61)

Management improvement


Prepara�on for taking higher posi�on

61% 42%

Increasing self-confidence


Increase produc�vity


Expanding career opportuni�es


Managing work-life balance




Multiple answers N=62 company representative


51% 75%

Not sure

23% 7% Work/Life balance (n=59)

2% Self-confidence improvement (n=61)


Graph 6. The usefulness of coaching for employees


Improvement of communica�on skills




No use

Op�miza�on of individual/team...


By comparing the average rates of coaching usefulness for employees vs the company itself, it can be concluded that coaching is evaluated as somewhat more useful for employees than for the company. The greatest number of company representatives agreed that coaching contributes to greater engagement of employees (74%), productivity increase (57%) and greater performance (57%).

Graph 4. Reasons for starting cooperation with coaches Average rate





26% 57%


Types of coaching that companies use: almost all companies had individual coaching (93%), followed by “executive” coaching (55%). Types of coaching that were used less frequently were group (37%) and team coaching (35%).

36% 21%



33% 33%

Sales and revenue increase (n=61)

Greater performance (n=61)


Greater engagement of employees (n=61)

Not sure


25% Reducing fluctua�on of employees (n=59)

Reorganizing and restructuring (n=60)


Graph 7. The usefulness of coaching for the company





No use





Produc�vity increase (n=61)






55% 4.0




















Multiple answers N=60 company representative

Graph 5. Types of coaching sessions

17% 19% 11% 5% 9% Development Fi�ng into Team of good organiza�onal building business culture and rela�onships (n=75) management with key (n=75) stakeholders (n=75)

15% 9% 4% Development Adapta�on to of requirements successor of the (n=75) new posi�on (n=75)

Not important

Not sure

20% 5% Strategic thinking (n=75)

17% 19% 8% 5% Raising the Execu�on of leaders skills business plans to develop and change crea�vity management and innova�on in the in employees organiza�on (n=75) (n=75)

31% 3% Achieving results (n=75)


Graph 8. The usefulness of coaching for leaders

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On the other hand, company representatives recognize coaching utility in working with leaders, in order to empower them in different domains. Adaptation to requirements of the new position is evaluated as the most important aspect (91%), followed by team building and management (89%). Comparing coaching usefulness for an employee, a company and a leader, it can be concluded that coaching is overall the most useful for leaders, followed by employees, while coaching has the lowest overall significance for the company as a system itself.

The next comment refers to companies that are at the beginning of the development of the coaching culture: Although previous findings indicate that coaches are hired in order to increase the improvement of management skills, optimize individual and team performances, and prepare them for taking a higher position, over time something else was also discovered. More detailed questions, in this research, lead to the conclusion that coaches are more likely to be hired in socalled crisis situations, as a means of “firefighters”. Typical circumstances for this would be: • • • • •

cases when employees lose motivation, issues that occur with a particular team member, situations in which managers show insufficient communication skills that cause conflicts, the challenges in teamwork or when the changes (transformation, reorganization) are expected on the organizational level and they are likely to lead to a potential crisis situation.

it is not necessary for the company representatives to attend coaching education, however, stronger cooperation between company representatives and professional coaches is needed in the upcoming period. Company representatives are aware of the need to introduce a coaching culture; however, the answers of most respondents still lead to the conclusion that they will rather choose to hire the coach

once the opportunity was missed to act preventively. It seems that coaching as a methodology is used as a form of a possible solution when the situation starts to escalate, rather than implementing the coaching culture in the company before the crisis. Coaching should serve as a model to prevent crisis situations. Coaching has been shown to be effective in specific crises situations such as during the pandemic. Half of the companies that used coaching continued to use it during the pandemic and with good effects in various aspects. It can be concluded that, currently and in the future, coaching methodology provides strong support to companies and employees in terms of wellbeing and retention.

Criteria for coach selection Coaching accredita�on/educa�on


Previous experience (besides experience in coaching)

69% 50%

Business knowledge by the coach Recommenda�on of business associates/friends Leaving the choice to the client through an introductory session Other

40% 21% Multiple answers N=62 company representative


Graph 9. Coach credibility (accreditation and education) and business experience are the key factors for choosing a professional coach

The gold standard and coaching accreditations

Par�ally, 51%

Don’t know anything about it, 33%

I understand the Gold Standard well, 16%

N=75 company representative

Graph 10. Awareness about Gold standard in coaching

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Par�ally, 68%

I know the accredita�ons levels well, 19% Don’t know anything about it, 13%

N=75 company representative

Graph 11. Awareness of accreditations requirements in coaching

Par�ally, 69%

Although previous findings indicate that coaches are hired in order to increase the improvement of management skills, optimize individual and team performances, and prepare them for taking a higher position, over time something else was also discovered. That coaches are more likely to be hired in so-called crisis situations, as a means of “firefighters”.

I know the condi�ons for accredita�ons well, 17% Don’t know anything about it, 13%

N=75 company representative

Graph 12. Awareness about ICF accreditation

Barriers for the introduction of coaching in the company Budget


Unspecific/without answer


Lack of understanding of coaching


Lack of trust


Lack of interest among employees


Accredita�on/references/ coach mo�va�on

Furthermore, more in-depth open questions dealing with coaching accreditations (certificates, experience, competencies, ethics etc.) show the lack of awareness about the Gold standard in coaching (16%), accreditations (19%), and detailed understanding of each accreditation (17%). Lack of information regarding accreditations is especially sensitive having in mind that company representatives refer to them as a number one criteria for choosing a coach. This part of the research shows that there is a significant need for further education of the business community regarding the criteria for a professional coach selection, including the importance and the type of coaching accreditations. It is our strong belief that it is not necessary for the company representatives to attend coaching education, however, stronger cooperation between company representatives and professional coaches is needed in the upcoming period. This would lead to the creation of opportunities for both coaches and the business community to maximize benefits from coaching.

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Business knowledge by coach


No barriers


Corpora�ve processes/ culture


Defining concrete aims in process


Willingness of management to support...


Insufficient business engagement Company is not in the phase of including... Global approach

4% 3% 1%

Mul�ple answers N=75 company representa�ve

Graph 13. Company representatives recognize different barriers to hiring coaches. The company budget is the number one pain point (25%). Next three most frequent barriers are: lack of understanding (15%), lack of trust (11%), and lack of interest (9%). This indicates that employees lack an understanding of what the coaching process represents, as well as its purpose and benefits. Although a limited budget is the number one pain point for introducing coaching, most companies think that the price of coaching is in line with expectations.


Setting the right expectations, translating “value for money” and the significance of acting proactively presents an important role of the company representatives in the future, and consequently the key arguments for investing financial resources through coaching in their employees and the company itself.

Expensive, 17%

In line with expecta�ons, 83%

N=70 company representative

Graph 14. Price evaluation of coaching sessions

Coaching is a long-term process and investment in sustainability and growth: the strengthened cooperation between company representatives and professional coaches will contribute to a much better understanding of values, needs and employee satisfaction, on the organizational level, which will ultimately lead to a higher performance and shareholders expectations fulfillment.

Recommendations for improvement and further development of coaching in Serbia Professional coaches should work on raising awareness about coaching in the general public about what is the essence of coaching and how it contributes to the individual, the team and the company level. Through spreading awareness, both by company representatives and professional coaches, companies will encounter fewer barriers among key stakeholders /decision-makers as well as the employees. The latter will then be more interested and have more trust in coaching methodology and professional coaches. There is a clear need for standardization and regulation of coaching, in order to position coaching professionals who are accredited in relevant associations such as the International Coaching Federation. The role of professional coaches is important in further acquainting company representatives with Gold Standard in coaching as well as supporting them to adequately position and promote the value and benefits of coaching in their companies.

The greatest number of company representatives agreed that coaching contributes to greater engagement of employees (74%), productivity increase (57%) and greater performance (57%).

This article represents research that was conducted for the needs of the ICF Serbia Chapter in the period July-November 2020 and contains a part of results acquired in order to help better understanding and further development of coaching in Serbia. The authors express special gratitude to the participants into this research, who took the time to do so, during the challenging 2020, and thus helped everyone to get insight in the current position of coaching in the business community.

employees lack an understanding of what the coaching process represents, as well as its purpose and benefits.

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MAKING A(TS) RIGHT CHOICE Step by step guide to choosing ATS Sofija Jovanović, Talent Manager, Levi9 Technology Services

HR technology is one of the most vital topics in today’s HR world. The reason for that is clear – we need technology as a reliable partner in having smoother processes, facilitating our growth, or just regularly supporting the business. 90 | HR World 06 | novembar 2021


Covid-19 pandemic, having facilitated remote working options, has also stressed what we already knew – our people-related processes need to be clear, meaningful, impactful, and accompanied by the right tools – both in physical and virtual working space. Choosing the right partner isn’t easy since the HR tech world has exploded – according to Bersin, the average large company now has 9.1 core talent applications, in comparison to 7 in 2018, and is spending $310 per employee per year, a 29% increase over the last year (2021). On the other hand, the pandemic has affected the way we think about HR technology – per Sapient, 28% of organizations are planning to increase spending in nontraditional HR technology areas like infrastructure and remote working tools (2020). Everything that is built from scratch requires a solid foundation, so a wellrounded HR tech landscape is a must. However, besides engagement and development tools, there is one thing most of us, HR professionals, need – a comprehensive applicant tracking system for the management of a complete recruitment process. We are well aware of that, but are the leaders of our companies aware as well? If you are lucky enough, you might answer this question affirmatively and skip step zero. If not, there is a lot to learn – challenges should serve that purpose at the very least. So, this might be step zero:

Convince your leadership team Depending on the situation, you might convey a pain analysis and think about the purpose and goals. In any case, consider presenting the numbers and

figures to substantiate your analysis (e.g. how much time would recruiters save with adequate ATS). Tip! Vendors can assist you with this – ask them for help!

Gather your team As we at Levi9 like to say, Teamwork makes the dreamwork – it is very important to keep this in mind. If you have well-developed negotiation

BESIDES ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT TOOLS, THERE IS ONE THING MOST OF US, HR PROFESSIONALS, NEED – A COMPREHENSIVE APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEM FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF A COMPLETE RECRUITMENT PROCESS. WE ARE WELL AWARE OF THAT, BUT ARE THE LEADERS OF OUR COMPANIES AWARE AS WELL? skills, you are aware you need different stakeholders to make your team successful. Make sure to have represented different functions – HR, IT, and GDPR experts are some of them, but make sure to also include others depending on your organizational structure. Tip! Have someone from C level as a sponsor, not necessarily in your core project team, and make sure to keep them in the loop and consult for important decisions.

Create a project plan For someone who is not coming from the project management world, this is an important takeaway. In brief, you should set project goals, create a project plan with a timeline, phases, activities and tasks, but also the milestones for each of the phases. Of course, you’d want to define your budget with your leadership team so you can consider this in the following steps. Tip! It’s always nice if you can have a project manager to help you with these tasks.

Gather your requirements Maybe the most important step to really begin the project with. It needs to be clear what exactly you are looking for – different vendors have different functionalities so it’s easy to get distracted if your requirements are not clear enough. Why did you initiate this project in the first place? What pains in your current process do you have? How could you alleviate those obstacles in the future? These are some of the questions you’d want to think about. Tip! Once you define your requirements, you might want to prioritize them – a three-level scale is a convenient way to do this. This way, you'll have a clear distinction of your requirements that are either necessary or only a nice addition to your workflow. Additionally, to make this list clearer, you can separate functional requirements (e.g. communication with hiring managers through the system) from technical ones (e.g. integration with another system).

Align among business units/offices (optional) If you work in a large company, or a company that has different peoplerelated processes inside, make sure to

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HAVE SOMEONE FROM C LEVEL AS A SPONSOR, NOT NECESSARILY IN YOUR CORE PROJECT TEAM, AND MAKE SURE TO KEEP THEM IN THE LOOP AND CONSULT FOR IMPORTANT DECISIONS. align your requirements and have a final prioritization list. Also, in the process of choosing a vendor, keep in mind to check with them how customizable their workflows are. Tip! Have a Subject Matter Expert Team which will consist of HR representatives from each office/ country. Find the best suitable way to communicate and work with them to have the needs of all offices aligned.

Do the research & contact vendors Since by now you know exactly what you are looking for, and you have the right support in the organization, it’s time to take the plan into action. As mentioned, there is a great number of vendors on the market, and one might ask themselves how to proceed. Do the research thoroughly – follow HR tech enthusiasts, look out for conferences and articles, check for the newest papers and reports, ask your contacts what systems they are using. If you are a recruitment expert it shouldn’t be an issue to assess if there is a match between your company and the vendor’s one on a large scale. However, this process has its own specificities. Some important aspects are checking vendor’s average customer size, cultural fit with your company, and current phase of their development

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(e.g. if your company is growing rapidly, you might want a vendor who is flexible enough to facilitate your growth) – try to assess this as much as possible even before contacting them, while the rest will be checked in further steps. Tip! Cut your longlist of vendors to 3-5, so you can have a clearer picture. It's always a good idea to get connected personally with someone if there is an opportunity. Otherwise, it is easy to find a contact form on their websites.

Evaluate different options It is time to listen to the vendor’s demos and do your evaluation. By now, you should’ve defined requirements that are supposed to lead you to do the evaluation properly. You will probably evaluate user experience, but don’t forget customization and integration options. Since you will probably have various vendors to evaluate, pondering evaluations of your requirements on different levels of priority can be a good option so that you can compare the vendors on the same scale (e.g. pondering your requirements evaluations with 1, 2, or 3 depending on their priority level). Also, don’t forget to ask if they have a mobile app, what their cost structure is and what kind of support system they offer. Make sure your preferred vendor hosts its data in some of the countries which are listed as GDPR safe by your country. Finally, do confirm their price range and contracting options fit your company. Tip! Checking references can help you a great deal – if you don’t know anyone using the system, make sure to ask vendors to provide you with contact references of similar size to your company. Ask your references about their experience with using the software, implementation, and main obstacles. Also, a good question to ask is if they would choose the same if they were choosing again.

Make the (right) choice It might not be easy, but hopefully, by having completed previous phases successfully, it will be clear who your best match is. The only thing left now is to prepare the summary of your journey with recommendations to your decisionmakers or if you are a decision-maker, lucky you! Before implementation, you might plan some time for final contract negotiations and sign off. Next steps, or it would be better to say next adventure, would include implementation, user training, and finally, you’d want to establish an evaluation procedure to follow up on your choice and potential improvements. Like in any recruitment process, there is no ‘’one perfect” solution suitable for different needs – focus on the specifics of your organization and try to assess the vendor(s) against them. It can either be a perfect match or an opportunity to learn something new about recruitment or HR tech in general. Last Tip! Good luck and enjoy the ride! REFERENCES Bersin, J. (2021) HR Technology 2021: The definitive guide Sapient Insights 2020–2021: HR Systems Survey White Paper, 23rd Annual Edition


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Design thinking is currently one of the (most) interesting methodologies for solving business challenges. This is not surprising, given that this approach insists on creativity and inviting entire teams to participate in solving business problems.


MARKO JEVTIĆ EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AT NORDEUS TalksandFolks mentor Design Thinking is an iterative process of how you can create products and services, putting the user in the first place. Many have heard of it, use parts of it and some use it as a whole. It can be oriented to the creation of processes and services, to hiring, engagement, incentives, L&D models… It is a way of thinking that can be implemented to identify problems and their potential solutions. Empathy, as the first step in design thinking, is crucial, and, in business, we often skip it. We often start with a problem that we assume ourselves. We need to approach the problem more systematically and, above all, to identify who the users are, their needs and habits. It is important to understand what people really think. It happens often that they say one thing, which is exactly the opposite of what they do. They say “We don't care about our neighbours’ personal lives” but then they stalk their Instagram accounts. Nordeus uses certain assessment tools for engagement. The approach was as follows - to see if all team members are actively involved in communication and use of the intranet. In the Empathy Phase, the assumptions are made based on one observation. It is necessary to talk to people and identify extremes. One of the extremes is the concept of extreme users (e.g. some people constantly comment on posts on a page, and some never do). Instead of solving the process, we put ourselves in the shoes of the extreme user on how to solve the problem. The extremes will give us ideas on how to come up with innovations,

but only when we understand them. Often these solutions lead us to a turning point. Want to hear about an example of a solution made to solve the process, but still, no one could benefit from it? British Airways took the average pilot’s height for cockpit design - the problem arose because it didn’t suit anyone, since no one was the average height. Design Thinking is not a form that needs to be implemented, it is actually a way of thinking and it is very much related to culture. For example, do we have curious people, do we support cooperation or competition among teams? Are we constructive in giving feedback, are we aware that sometimes things are not understood and that we do not have an answer? Asking questions has to do with curiosity. Without thinking - if we immediately say that something won’t work, our result will certainly not be new and big. Today, people work from home, the context is different. There are different contexts and environments. Understanding them can help us come up with new solutions. Is the problem about where their car is parked, food delivery, problems with children? The biggest benefit for employees, according to the research of the Chinese company, for middle-aged people is the health of their parents. The company offered health insurance for their parents, which contributed to the higher retention of employees. An example of the benefit that came from understanding employee problems is the introduction of Flexi Friday in Nordeus, where employees can use Friday in the way that suits them best - to finish their chores outside of work or to work, which was greatly influenced by the fact that we had to stay at home during weekends due to the pandemic. Design Thinking is a fairly simple method it's iterative - it seems like something anyone can use. There are, of course, certain things to pay attention to, because we focus on setting problems for a long time, only then does

everything become easier. Brainstorming comes later, when the problem is defined. This requires a culture of expressing opinions freely during brainstorming, supporting all the ideas and considering them equally. Now stories are popular, many platforms are introducing them because they have realized that this is the way users consume content. You need to consider what suits your people in order to introduce innovations, consider whether you understand your people and the ways they consume things and whether you have adapted the content and culture to them.

YOU NEED TO CONSIDER WHAT SUITS YOUR PEOPLE IN ORDER TO INTRODUCE INNOVATIONS, CONSIDER WHETHER YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR PEOPLE AND THE WAYS THEY CONSUME THINGS AND WHETHER YOU HAVE ADAPTED THE CONTENT AND CULTURE TO THEM. The mobile gaming industry is specific because it has brought a lot of innovations, starting with the click to play option. A lot of innovation and uncertainty is present now. People need to be prepared that a lot of things are going to fail. There are many unpredictable things, in which people need to find themselves, make a learning loop that will help them come to a solution and later find the difference. This is one of the specifics that require a different approach to work, personal development and career. Design Thinking has existed in the US for a long time, it has been neglected in Europe, and only in recent years it became a buzzword. Design Thinking will not disappear if a new methodology appears, its application will just be reduced in certain companies. To get to the core, it is important to ask WHY, and how some developed prototypes will be tested iteratively until a decision is made about its application.

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MILOVAN DEKIĆ USER RESEARCH LEAD AT NORDEUS TalksandFolks mentor Has design thinking reached its full potential? This question remains. If we understand it as a way of thinking (rather than the mere application of methodologies) then it is certainly not in full swing. However, that time will come sooner or later, especially when people realize that quick experimentation is not only inevitable but also very desirable.

PEOPLE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF A BUSINESS. THIS MAY SOUND BANAL BUT IF THE ATTITUDE OF THE EMPLOYER TOWARDS THE EMPLOYEES IS THOUGHT OVER IN A LITTLE MORE DETAIL, WE WILL REALIZE THAT THERE IS A LOT OF ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT AS WELL. One of the areas where the application of design thinking makes the most sense is HR. For a simple reason: people are the most important element of a business. This may sound banal but if the attitude of the employer towards the employees is thought over in a little more detail, we will realize that there is a lot of room for improvement as well. Design thinking is specific for its ability to shake the established ways of thinking and the rigid patterns of doing things. Take the example of a five-day working week and 40 working hours, with a fixed working time. Design thinking would certainly

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problematize such a pattern with one simple question: is the stated form of working time the best solution to the problem (in this case the business success of the company)? As experiments from a country such as Iceland show, a shorter workweek leads to an increase in employee productivity as well as their sense of well-being. Let’s stick to well-being. Today, there is a lot of talk about the need for employees to enjoy the so-called work-life balance, i.e. the need for employees to have enough time and energy besides work to enjoy other activities that would fulfil them and increase their (spiritual) well-being. This is another topic that is just starting to be discussed, and which is more talked about than functionally solved. It is automatically assumed that less time spent at work also means increasing the space for free activities of the employee. However, it may be forgotten that in the work environment an employee can create some sense of accomplishment that can contribute to their sense of satisfaction and productivity. Since a part of the well-being is left to the employees to decide (how will they spend their time, how will they find fulfilment outside their jobs), the employer remains deprived of feedback on how things are developing in that sphere of well-being. With a design thinking approach, this situation can certainly be solved creatively, and can potentially fulfil the broader social responsibility of HR. Furthermore, design thinking can be proactively used among employees to address team challenges. HR could just be the initiator of such ventures. In the team I work for, we realized that we could encourage each other to have a healthier lifestyle. After we discovered, as a team, that this is a problem that we would like to solve (and that this would also strengthen the team spirit), we realized that we could gamify it and thus make the endeavour more interesting. Namely, we decided that whenever someone eats something sweet, or some junk food, they will draw a line on the wall next to their name. After two weeks, we would make a

count: the one with the most lines would buy a lunch of their choice for the rest of the team. We reduced the intake of juices, junk food and overeating by 90%. In the end, one should not be misled and think that design thinking is just simple copying of existing solutions to already existing problems. I tried to point out two things for which HR can be responsible. First, the questions for HR remain: does it understand its employees well? Does it understand how their needs change over time? How often are employee profiles changed and updated? Does HR understand employee values well? Design thinking is an approach that can help HRs single out not only their company in the market but themselves as well, and the products that the company produces. Because individuals who create in an environment where they are encouraged to create will accomplish better results.

DESIGN THINKING IS SPECIFIC FOR ITS ABILITY TO SHAKE THE ESTABLISHED WAYS OF THINKING AND THE RIGID PATTERNS OF DOING THINGS. I also tried to point out that the consequence of the design thinking approach does not have to be the most ingenious solution that exists. The solution that the team or company will accept must be the one that fulfils those employees, recognizes their needs, motivates them to be better and fills their time with challenge and creativity. Ideas for such solutions very often already exist within the companies; and it is HR’s role to find them out by encouraging employees to solve challenges through the prism of design thinking.


The question you are too afraid to ask 98 | HR World 06 | November 2021



If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life!

environment. It appears quite often on job posts, as you might have noticed.

you open up a career page, open up a diary. Yep, you read that right.

This can be printed on posters, embroidered on pillows, and slapped upon as many wallpapers as humanly possible.

And if we look for a position we love, the question of the matter becomes - do we know what we actually love? We are as young as nineteen when we make that first, crucial step towards our careers, and we commit to academic education. In most cases, we have no idea what’s out there. And many of us are now doing jobs that didn’t even exist when we attended our first lectures.

And once you open up that Pandora box of self-reflection, start with these three questions.

And it still wouldn’t be true. You can love your job to the moon and back, but you will still have to work. The tasks that you adore, the ones that are out of your comfort zone, the ones that will take you hours. You will have to do them all. Which brings us to the infamous question - Do you love what you do? Well, that doesn’t really matter. Or to be precise - that isn’t all that matters. Let’s break it down. When they are on a job hunt, most people look either for great compensation, perks, and benefits or you try to find a position that you love doing. I thoroughly believe that this approach is faulty. And here’s why. If we strive solely to attain great working conditions, that can easily propel us towards seeking companies and positions that others deem the best. And they might be. For them. They could also bring us work-related migraines, working weekends, and no family time. That isn’t posted in the job ad, but you can put it under the dynamic work

And even if we are happy with our academic background, that still doesn’t mean that we will be capable of choosing a role that we will enjoy. Because it’s hard to know what’s out there, and what does a specific position entail. And what if you want to switch careers? It’s rather difficult to go in blind. You really have no way of knowing.

The first one being the one from the beginning - what do I love to do? It’s a good question, don’t get me wrong. However, try approaching it from a different angle. Try to think not in terms of industries or roles. Because all a position is can be broken down in particular tasks.

So, the questions that one should ask aren’t - What do I love? What pays the most? What kind of job can I even get? The question is much harder. It’s a rather simple one, simple enough that it keeps you up at night. What do I know about myself? Have you ever tried making a career decision starting from yourself and not from the realities of the market? Before

I’ll give you an example. I had a session with a young girl who told me that she wanted to be a trainer, because she liked the impact it has, and the connection she can create with people. Her admiration and fondness for the job

came from her volunteering experience as an HR VP in a student organization. She used training as a tool to educate, motivate and lead around 50 people. She had continual, long-term access to them and worked mostly on their soft skills, as well as vision and mission. The impact she created, which is what she liked the most, didn’t stem from the training part of it all. It came for the connection. As a trainer in an HR consulting agency, or as an in-house trainer, it would be highly unlikely that she would have the same opportunities. Outsourced trainers come, do the training, and leave. In house ones either focus on a specific hard skill, or train all the new recruits during

onboarding. Either way the long-term connection is almost impossible to achieve. A position that dealt with employee experience, performance or culture would be a much better fit. And she had no idea. This is why when you think about what you love doing, you forget about the title of the position entirely. Think

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in terms of activities that you will be doing on a daily basis. Do they deal with people? Words? Gant charts? Excel spreadsheets? Are you in a car or in front of a screen? Are you talking or are you listening? Are you writing or are you speaking? Or neither? What do you actually love to do? Let’s assume you’ve successfully answered the first question, and let’s move on to the second one. What are you good at?

indescribable how terrible I am at it. All the love in the world won’t help. It won’t make a difference. So, I had to think of my strengths. The ones I’ve always had. And the reason why this question matters so much is that it’s the same for newbies and seniors. Interns and CEOs. This question is much more about someone’s character, personal preference and natural talents, than it is about someone’s resume. We all have things we are good at. We’ve known it forever. Some are artistic, others are

Precisely - what are you good at right now? Of course, you can

improve over time. You, undoubtedly will, but, you have to start somewhere. You have to lean on the skills, experience and expertise you can already hold in your hands. You have to rely on yourself. I love singing. But it is

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middle school. It would be a shame that you weren’t aware of it. And it would be fatal for your career.

buy your product, your service, your skills and your personality. To help them build their careers as well.

The first question was completely inward. It required you and you only. Now we are slowly stepping out in the world by requesting feedback from our environment. We can make an educated guess about our abilities, but it’s always a good idea to have a second opinion. Colleagues and family, best friends and neighbours… Ask them, honestly. Actually, throw a couple of ex partners in the mix. They can surely give you a unique perspective of your entire personality.

And if there is no one who does, well, start convincing them. Maybe they had no idea that you are exactly what they had been missing.

And the third and final question is - Is it what the world needs? Now this question steps out of your inner likings, walks through your surroundings and goes straight out there, to roam around the world. Because your career should earn you a living as well. And money is not a dirty word. It’s just one of the many, many things a career is. builders, some shine on the stage, others orchestrate from the back. Chances are your strengths were visible to others around you since you were in

So, what you love and what you are good at also have to be needed by someone else. You need to have people, or businesses that want to

And that’s how it works, and how everyone gets exactly what they both want and need. Not by asking the market, but by asking ourselves. Not by checking the job board, but by checking the mirror. There are no perfect employees. And there are certainly no perfect positions, conditions, and employers. Don’t let their Instagram feeds fool you. If you are seeking a career you are proud of, what you are actually seeking is authenticity. So, start your search with the most difficult question of them all - What do I know about myself?


Living up to values: unique company culture Trebjesa Brewery, Molson Coors, Montenegro Zoran Soknić, Senior HR Business Partner, Trebjesa brewery Nikšić, Molson Coors Beverage Company


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Trebjesa Brewery is the only industrial brewer in Montenegro with 125 years of brewing heritage. In 1997, Trebjesa became the first privatized company in Montenegro. From then until now it has been a part of international brewing companies (InterBrew, InBev, ABInBev), and since 2012 it is 100% owned by Molson Coors Beverage Company.

Now, let’s see what is behind our uniqueness.

Our company is a significant contributor to the country’s economy and is recognized by values such as quality and ethics in all areas of the business.

Put People First is our most important value. It helps us to listen to each other and promote open conversations making healthy working relationships and environments.

With our rich portfolio of domestic and international beer brands we are leaders in the Montenegrin beer market with about 30% of annual sales in export markets. Our core brand - Nikšićko Pivo has kept a reputation of beer of exceptional quality among consumers in the region over the decades.

We promote “speak up” culture and treat everyone with respect and dignity. By this we mean open conversation and opinions in groups, 1 to 1 sessions, free reporting if you see that something is not complying with our culture, know where to get advice, behave with integrity.

We owe our success to the generations of brewers, and we know that our company’s culture is what will make us even stronger in the years to come. That is why we want every employee to feel and live our values.

Being an industrial facility, it is crucial for us not to compromise on our employees’ safety. We care about their mental health. One of our main topics during one-to-one meetings is their wellbeing. We also support them in their professional growth, by giving them opportunities for learning and career development. Here are some examples of employees who advanced from a company trainee program. It lasts for 12 months and employees gain experience from all departments to leadership positions: 1. 2. 3.

Our first value reminds everyone that people are the most precious asset in our company. Through many activities we have enriched our work environment, respect and care for each other and the communities where we live and work. We look for the ways to support them through different initiatives like sponsorships, donations, employee volunteering...

Trainee-Commercial PPM Specialist-Customer Excellence Project Manager CEE Trainee-Pricing and Revenue Specialist/Manager-Customer Excellence Manager Trainee-Brand Manager MNE Brands - Communication Manager CEE

Being Bold & Decisive means that we are not afraid of challenges, we take smart decisions and move forward. Only in this way we are competitive on the market, we act fast and search for new possibilities. This is one of the reasons why we are the first choice for our customers, consumers and employees (wellbeing through initiatives and 1 to 1 session, pulse surveys at least yearly, bunch of benefits, rewards, teambuilding, happy hour, etc.).

We are proud to be a company with employees whose differences reflect not only who we are but also who our consumers are. We have embraced a workplace where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect. We do not tolerate discrimination based on any factor. At the same time, we are committed to being role models for responsible consumption. “Outside the Company, you are the Company” is a good reminder for that.

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When you act as an owner, you are also responsible for the results and outcome. This we call Take Accountability. We learn from our mistakes and take care of the future. Our employees are acting with integrity, so a culture of embracing actions and results individually is crucial for our business.

Coaching, mentoring, stepping out of our comfort zone, exploring the unknown, exposing ourselves, sharing best practices is our way of Learning Every Day. It is an effort to be the best version of ourselves. To have a sustainable learning process, it is important that we gain knowledge through consistency. For that we have a great online LMS company platform (employees can choose learning sessions, have mandatory trainings or their superior or HR can suggest courses for them).

Everyone has a personal development plan (they own it) and talents have a career development plan. We have theoretical and practical courses on how to make beer that everyone can take, irregardless of their department.

Finally, we Celebrate Together our success! Celebrating together is about recognizing our efforts and appreciating that everyone is contributing to the overall success. The Covid-19 crisis has prevented us from getting together in larger groups but celebrating business success is about recognizing employees’ success. Just a simple “Thank you! Well done!” can be an example of this. We also tell stories, celebrate and reward for living our values across the company.


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All of this couldn’t have been done without investing in communication and having honest conversations within the teams. It is an investment of your time and effort towards every single person to understand what is our past, our future, and how they fit in. Our goals, employee development and wellbeing are the main topics during 1x1 meetings, internal magazine, recognition for job well done, reward, etc. This is how we ensure true values will not be just posters on the wall. In the end, everyone should embrace and live company values. It takes time, but we should try to embed values as much as possible in day-to-day activities and use them as a set of guides to help us navigate through the future.

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Key Ingredients for Great Virtual Events: Interaction & Meaningful Connections

Vlado Damjanović, Head of Design and Delivery, Beyond42

EVENTS HAVE EVOLVED. THE NEW WAY OF OPERATING EVENTS THAT CAME WITH THE GLOBAL PANDEMICS HAS PRESENTED ORGANIZERS WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEIZE: INCREASE AUDIENCE, DECREASE THE OVERALL COSTS PER ATTENDEE, SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE THE CARBON FOOTPRINT, ETC. HOWEVER, NOT EVERYONE HAS ADJUSTED EQUALLY. WITH THE MAJORITY APPROVING OF THIS NEW VIRTUAL WAY, A YEAR AND A HALF LATER SOME ARE STILL STRUGGLING TO ADAPT. BY FOLLOWING THE LATEST TRENDS AND ACTING ON THE FEEDBACK OF MILLIONS ATTENDING VIRTUAL AND HYBRID EVENTS OVER THE PAST 18 MONTHS, EVENT ORGANIZERS NOW HAVE SUFFICIENT AMOUNTS OF DATA TO CREATE EVENTS COMPELLING ENOUGH FOR ANY TYPE OF ATTENDEE. NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED IN THE LAST YEAR ALONE, ON THE OTHER HAND, HELP ORGANIZERS FINE-TUNE THE EXPERIENCES TO THE TINIEST DETAILS, MAKING EVENTS MORE LIKELY TO SUCCEED AND TAKE PLACE AGAIN. THE ROAD HERE WAS SHORT, BUT PLAYERS IN THE INDUSTRY LEARNED AT EVERY STEP. WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED IN THIS PAST YEAR? Virtual events reigned the event landscape for more than a year now. When organizing one and assessing its success, all aspects of the organizing process need to be taken into account: event technologies, budgets, devices attendees access the event through, etc. Some interesting statistics came up. In a research done by WildApricot (2020), 32% of respondents of their survey on the use of virtual event platforms chose not to run a virtual event because they lacked the technological infrastructure to run them properly. 27% of those who skipped on virtual said it was because they don’t know how to get participants to attend virtual events. For the ones who managed to claim a technology, 90% of poll participants claimed using event technology had a major positive impact on the success of their events, says Bizzabo research (2020). By switching to online, 89% of participating organizers said that they save approximately 200 hours

per year, with 20% of participants claiming to save more than 360 hours per year, per person involved. The hardware attendees used came into focus as well. In a research conducted by Makletic (2021), 70% of event organizers say that quality microphones are key to a successful event beating cameras to which poll participants gave a score of 60% on the importance scale. In the research done by the same company (2021), other interesting statistics were revealed: 67% of organizers use virtual events as an add-on to inperson events, most of them use between 10-20% of their annual marketing budgets for organizing them (where most of the budget goes on the event organizing platform, with acquiring speakers coming in second). 84% of organizers who run a virtual event in 2020 reported that they spent less money on virtual events than in-person events, says WildApricot research (2020). Only 10% of organizers kept charging

the same price or higher for the virtual equivalents of the physical events. With the above said, most organizations who have already engaged with virtual events are not generating revenue the same way and in the same amounts as they did with in-person events. They have adapted to the new reality. 87% of event organizers offer virtual booths to sponsors. 91% of them introduce sponsorships to the program of the event itself. 65.9% of organizers make their virtual programs available on-demand afterward. According to the research we conducted internally at CollectiVibe with our existing clients, the biggest annoyance of virtual events is a bad connection, with technical challenges with browsers, microphones, and cameras coming in a close second.

GETTING AND MAINTAINING ATTENTION IS YOUR MAIN METRIC OF SUCCESS Even before the pandemics, our general attention span was starting to get stretched to its limits. Being bombarded

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with information of different levels of importance risks a loss of focus on anything an individual might be involved in. Events especially succumb to this risk. If we think about physical events for a moment, the usual scenario depicts a visitor (in a way) trapped inside the conference room with very little maneuvering space, getting engaged only during the Q&A and during breaks. Buying a ticket for an event usually defines a strong intent for an individual to attend. The sole fact that an individual was physically present meant that at least one level of immersion was satisfied. With events coming online and joining them becoming easier than ever, the venue has now shifted to personal spaces, living rooms, and devices that attendees use as daily drivers for their personal and business needs. The competition that comes in the form of email, social media, Netflix, and similar services is fierce and you are all fighting for the same piece of cake. A single email can chop 45 minutes of the in-screen time your visitor would have spent watching the program. Invading this personal space and subjecting it to the program you prepared for them requires a more intimate understanding of the audience’s needs and expectations. This aspect remains as important as it was with physical events and will help you create a more engaging experience down the line. To compete with the challenge, event organizers have introduced several interactive tools and edits to the event flow, which has gradually shifted from a nice-to-have aspect of an online gathering to a must-have where your event’s success depends on it: • The length of sessions in most of the new virtual events is cut in half with fewer breaks in between them. This allows attendees to see more content in

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a shorter period of time, keeping their interest and focus, ultimately helping them get back to other duties. • A lot of events are introducing custom 3D, game-like experiences to the virtual event technology to help attendees get more immersed in the event. 3D experiences we build at CollectiVibe usually involve recreating the real-world venue into 3D and having attendees walk through it as if they were really there. So far we have made events at different spots in Venice (St. Mark’s Square), Vienna (Wien Rathaus), Brussels (Atomium and City Hall), and others. • Having interactive elements at all stages of the journey is yet another way of keeping attention with the audience. Embedded Q&A in the conference rooms, active polling available everywhere, direct contact (chats and video calls) with speakers, organizers, and exhibitors are just some of them.

ESTABLISHING CONNECTIONS THROUGH MEANINGFUL INTERACTIONS AND MATCHMAKING The reasons for attending an event can be various. While the profile of events has changed dramatically, the reason people come has not. Establishing connections and networking remains the top reason people attended previous CollectiVibe events. Recreating a spontaneous and life-like networking experience is perhaps the most challenging part of having a virtual event. Backed by technology, matchmaking in today’s popular virtual event platforms enables a search for promising contacts based on user interests, location, industry, information available through their profiles. This simple way of qualifying, attracting, and converting audiences of an event into potential leads establishes virtual events as a tool with great ROI. The matchmaking system should be easy to use, allow for

advanced filtering of available attendees, and have integration with popular calendars and meeting tools. Attendees can plan their schedules and make appointments long before the virtual event even starts. Everything being virtual, allows everyone to tune in from anywhere on their PCs and mobile devices. Virtual events platforms assist with the followups, as attendees can act on their past appointments and further interact with the people they talked to. With different levels of tracking available, for organizers the event becomes measurable as they can now beforehand see who will be tuning in and differentiate between active and inactive participants (and act upon this information). Matchmaking can be one of the monetization channels for organizers as well. What virtual events brought us, thanks to their technological foundations, was the ability to provide a space for attendees to keep and nurture these long after the event is done. Popular event organization technologies have their matchmaking and 1-on-1 communication modules operating. This approach can help organizers work on building an engaged community with their participants once the event is over.

VIRTUAL AND HYBRID EVENTS WILL CARRY ON Even with the Covid19 crisis slowing down and normalcy slowly reinstating itself, it is clear that holding virtual and/ or hybrid events will remain a part of the long-term strategies of most of the event organizers around the world. 87% of market specialists involved with events consider the opportunities generated by virtual events as an important success factor. Going fully or partially virtual helps organizers introduce the event to organizations and individuals that might otherwise not even consider joining. Stumbling upon (mostly free) events is now a thing as well which additionally expands the pool of potential attendees.


Do Sales and HR speak the same language? Ivana Canić, HR director, Strauss Adriatic

Sales is always a burning issue in almost every company. As a sector itself it is specific due to its targets, deadlines and high pressure. Business partners and HRs who work closely with Sales departments must understand how this sector operates and what are its main problems. We spoke with Ivana Canić, HR Director at Strauss Adriatic company (Doncafe) who used her rich experience of working both in HR and Sales to give five helpful pieces of advice for all the HRs working closely with Sales on how to find a common language with them.

Go to the field with them When it comes to Comp&Ben, there is a small secret that probably many HRs already know - one day of going to the field with a Sales person or Merchandiser gives you a serious tool to be a legitimate collaborator on the topic of Comp&Ben tomorrow. Here’s an example - a simple bonus scheme of a merchandiser consists of about 5-6 criteria out of which there is a specific one - Making a planogram. It only takes a couple of hours on the field to determine if it is worth 10% or 30% of the bonus and just one day to spend with any person in Sales department regardless of its position to give you the legitimacy and have confidence as an HR because you’ve seen it with your own eyes, you’ve been there on the field with them and know how things work. Bonus advice: There are small and discrete details to show them that you as an HR are an interlocutor who respects the dynamics the Sales has - avoid scheduling trainings, meetings or any HR topics in the last week of the month. As banal as it may seem - you need to know how much that makes them angry.

Stand up for them I had the opportunity to notice that sometimes, as HR, we don’t have the courage to stand up for colleagues from the Sales department. Here’s an example that I witnessed: during one occasion, there were prizes to be given to the best leaders in the company. The then HR knew that one senior colleague should get the award for that year even though he wasn’t as good a leader towards his team. The colleagues from Sales knew that the HR was the only one to know that, besides them, and were waiting for HR to react to it and prevent this. However, it did not happen. HR did not stand up for them, did not tell the truth that that person did not deserve the award. By doing this, the HR lost the trust of the Sales department as well as integrity. If you want to have the attention and earn the trust of the Sales team - stand up for them!

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Pay attention to their call for help I once had a Senior Sales Manager who tried to communicate and alert me on several occasions that he had a problem he was trying to solve in the team with an employee. Sales people often act victorious and they have a hard time showing their weaknesses. They usually tend to compete. I recognized this call for help but for some reason I ignored it. Then, the time came for the managers to fill in the Work Performance sheet and I approached this manager by saying that he “has to fill in these data in the system by 25th of March. That’s the deadline. I’m here if you need any help” and that was it. He consciously boycotted this request and, at the time, I wasn’t aware of that. I learned that you should recognize when you need to step out of the “procedures to follow” and tackle the essence. In this case it was this issue with an employee. For a year he was trying to communicate this problem with me and all I did was not react and request something procedural. This was offensive to them and disastrous for us as HRs. The solution: Notice their cry for help. Make a step forward to solve it and, in return, they will also make a step forward to do the tasks you delegate to them. The sales people act differently when calling for help. They don’t complain like others. Their ways of asking for help are a little more subtle. Bonus advice: Be transparent and do your best to save their time! We cannot always solve all their problems but at least we can do some small things. They notice every small effort that you make in order to save their time and appreciate it more if you say “I can’t help you now” rather than acting as if you didn’t hear about the problem at all.

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Show equality The two best ways to establish communication with sales is to go to the field or have a coffee with them. Here is where HR can get most insights and information, but, under one condition - do not go there as a guest. Roll up your sleeves and get to work; show equality with them by holding their phone if needed, if it’s a merchandiser helping them tidy the shelves in the market etc. One of the best advice for all the future HR experts is to let them respect you as a person first, a positivist, someone who is cool and yet in the end as an HR expert, because, in case you don’t know something or make a mistake as an HR they can forgive you, but to be respected is something that has to be earned and it can be achieved through communication. Sales people have a concise, concrete, pragmatic type of communication. Also, do not try to theorize and ask them “bookish” questions. For example, if you tell them to delegate a task to their team and they tell you that they can’t do it because they have new people in the team and they also need another colleague to support them, don’t ask them “But, have you checked if you set up your priorities well?”

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Support their work-life balance I am sorry I wasn’t aware of how much the private lives of people working in sales suffer. I would force the most to improve this balance for people from this department. It wasn’t until I started working in sales that I saw how many young people there who suffered from typical stress-related illnesses. This balance is very important and I wish I had worked on it back then. In the end, knowing all of this, now I changed a couple of things in my role as an HR. Today, I can more confidently admit that I don’t know something or say “I need help”. Also, now I praise their sales results much more often, knowing the worth of an additional million dinars in sales. I know how much effort it took for someone to make shelves in supermarkets look nice because I know how much sweat was invested there. I give all my best to praise them from the bottom of my heart and to reward them. Also, I no longer emphasize the role of HR as “we are an important function in the company”. It looks to me now as if we were begging them to respect us. I think the less we mention this in such a way and give more in practice - the better it is. A company can do good without an HR, but a good company will be better with a good HR rather than without one.



hr PERSPECTIVE Jelena Đuranović, Human Resources Director, Addiko Bank AD Podgorica Our core value „Focus on essential“ constantly reminds us of what’s important and it represents a lighthouse of our business, actions and behaviors. As atypical, modern, and dynamic bankers, we are creating a world of clear, simple and direct banking by transforming the world of finance in a way that makes us recognizable in the market. Sharing these values and believing in a culture of original solutions and successful human relationships we do create an environment in which our employees can give their maximum and leave a personal mark on the development of the banking business. Ana Sionov, HR Manager, Badin Soft Badin’s motto is “It’s all about people” which means that the company’s heart and soul are, and always will be - people. We don’t see employees as workforce, or only a significant resource, we see them as partners with whom we bravely move forward, and without whose existence we would not be where we stand today. We are proud to be an organization that nurtures diversity and is aware of how important it is to develop, understand and support the 116 different talents that are currently in Badin. We believe that only together we can accomplish more and become the best version of ourselves. Miloš Saravolac, Senior Human Resources Generalist, NORMA GROUP SOUTHEAST EUROPE A member of NORMA Group Through the years Norma Serbia has grown several times successfully overcoming challenges and adapting and developing culture. Values are the driving force for us! One of our core values is readiness to change and we believe that its implementation is what separates Norma Group from other companies. We acknowledge everyone’s opinion and we are open for recommendations from every employee no matter their role in the company. Values on their own can be pretty vague but if implemented correctly they can create an extraordinary workplace that can benefit everyone. Veljko Stojanović, Employer Branding Specialist, Transcom Worldwide As experienced international players, flexibility and agility are in the DNA of our team. Such an approach makes us recognizable. Agile working only makes sense if it is based on real-time information, which is why we have established a constant circle of feedback. We constantly receive information from our employees that help us identify further changes that should be made. Every employee knows that their opinion is important and that they can communicate with all levels of management without reserve and filters because such conversations are important for future changes and operations.

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"What is one value that makes your organization stand out and be authentic?"

Biljana Živanov, HR business partner, Carlsberg Serbia If you walk through our offices and brewery to feel a whiff of atmosphere, a touch of friendly warmth, you will know that a genuinely friendly work environment is not just a dream. Spending time with Carlsberg Serbia family would show you deep bonds of its community full of many long-term, close friendships, and true concern for each other’s wellbeing; a community full of support and help, mutual understanding and trust among the colleagues. And you will agree – the best fun is with friends and beer. Our friendship is a huge driving force which makes us do our job, probably, the best in the world. Ivana Rakonjac, PEOPLE OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, CENTILI The one value that makes Centili authentic is being growth-minded. We have been pivoting since day one, with no “copy and paste” solutions. We make radical shifts in our products’ business models, design, and application. Such an intense dynamic makes Centilians resilient, resourceful, agile, and always ready to grow. With employees who have been around for over eight years as the pillars of our team, we can easily perpetuate the culture where change is not only a challenge but also a fun and engaging process. And that is something every single Centilian stands firmly behind. Žana Zeković, Human Resources Director, Regent Porto Montenegro People. Beautiful location and facilities, brand with a heritage of pioneering luxury, timeless elegance in design are all parts of the hardware. Gathering professionals who share the same set of values and passion for hospitality is a crucial factor of success. Such a crew, that is aware of the location, cultural and historical heritage, profiles of target groups and their needs, as well as trends in tourism, is capable of adjusting adequately to numerous challenges. We have people with an extraordinary capacity for creating unique experiences, genuine care, confident in what they do while remaining humble in their hearts. These heroes are what makes us stand out. Bojana Šuput, HR DIRECTOR, Teledirekt Teledirekt’s motto is ’’with knowledge we create experience’’. We are Teledirekt, Telekom Serbia partner in the placement of telecommunications services to end users at their home addresses. Our company always puts its employees first, listening to their needs. We invest in our people by embracing diversity, encouraging personal development and creativity, giving employees the tools they need to drive the change in order to provide our customers with the best service only. The development of our employees is what makes us stand out and additionally motivates us to be more successful every day.


Milutin Cvetković, Senior Agile Project Manager, Endava Why did I decide to return to Endava after 12 years? During a 20 years career in various companies I learnt a lot about why do people stay longer with certain companies. The key ingredient is the way in which the company interacts with its employees, which can be summed up in one word – CARE. The care that the company manifests for my professional goals and wellbeing is as important as my contribution as an employee to the company’s growth. It is the way we evolve and get better together. After 12 years, I am happy to be back at Endava and to the values I share.

Filip Josipović, Marketing Manager, Silver Bell Group Faith and trust in our employees is the one value that stands out from others. You can become a part of SBG without any previous working experience, the only thing important is that you are hard-working and energetic and we will recognize the part of our company you fit the best. As soon as you start, you will be encouraged to take an active part in our entrepreneurial venture by sharing ideas and suggestions for improvement. In this way, we are creating a team in which everybody feels comfortable in being creative and working on the projects as if they were working for themselves.

Marija Nikitović, HR Director, Star Bet Star Bet strives to always prioritise the satisfaction of the first-line sales staff, and it still maintains and respects that attitude. Be open, honest, ready to cooperate - these are some of the qualities and attitudes of our managers. It is important for us how people feel in a business environment, to know that they can ask for help at any time. Providing people with security in business and creating a sense of belonging and collegiality is the authenticity we strive for. Our authenticity is our security and collegiality.

Jelena Rašeta, People & Culture Specialist, oddity code At Oddity, we describe a company’s authenticity as the harmonization of established values and ways of organizing business. We are convinced that people are the core of our work, so our goal is to remain a community of authentic people gathered around the values that connect us. Flexible, courageous, well-intentioned, and transparent - it is very important to us to clearly communicate all that is uncompromising. These are the points where we match. The authenticity of Oddity is also reflected in the way we approach the new environment, trends, phenomena. We carry our values with us, as a tool that helps us establish good communication.

KATARINA ĐURIŠIĆ, HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER, Portonovi | Azmont Investments Portonovi stands out for the people and customer-oriented communication. As a high-end hospitality hub, this is of our utmost importance. We tend to share clear and consistent messages between each other and among our guests, partners, and clients. Transparent and efficient communication are key to our execution style, while at the same time we ensure to decrease the chances of having misunderstandings, damaged relationships, or trust break. The respect and smile move the borders and their meaning is the same all over the world and in different cultures. This is how we do it in Portonovi. Ivana Kostić, People & Organization Development Manager, HEINEKEN Serbia In a successful and diverse company like ours, it would be challenging to choose only one or prioritize the focus between our values and core principles such as inclusion and diversity, people development, customers’ connections, teamwork and fun at work. But, I believe that one thing is vital when building, nurturing and strengthening any company value – it is what combines all of them, constantly elevates our organization and makes it authentic - those are the PEOPLE. Passionate, brave, ambitious and fun people. People of different ages, different characters with different views but with the same goal - to always deliver highest quality and be number one in everything we do. Vladimir Damnjanović, Country HR Head, ContiTech Fluid Serbia We believe that all our employees should feel safe in our working environment. Our aim was always pointed toward creating a culture where everybody has the freedom to speak up their mind and to tell what they think and feel without fear of negative consequences. That is the reason why trust is one of our core values and why we live it in our everyday work life.

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Hristina Antić, HR Manager, RCMT IT Europe For people from RCMT IT Europe, the most significant value is innovation. We place our confidence in our people who nurture passion, dynamism, and ambition in their work, further contributing to the team, projects, and organization, while simultaneously developing their soft and technical skills. Through constant brainstorming, we try to make each of the services we place internally and externally, to be something new for us and our market. Bojana Bogovac, HR business partner, MPC Properties Never ending capacity, bravery and enthusiasm to go above and beyond as many times as it takes to conquer the market. Genuine belief in what we do based on knowledge, expertise, and great people. Vladimir Radulović, Architect for office assets, MPC Properties It is a multidisciplinary approach, combining wide experience, knowledge, creativity and an open-minded attitude in solving market challenges and demands and giving the right response to client’s needs. Mina Milkić, Commercialization manager, MPC Properties We stand out not only because of the dedication, commitment and shared love for our businesses, but because of our youthful team spirit and diversity in thought. We inspire each other on a daily basis.

HR Marketplace


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Milica Kostić Milica Kostić is a Communications and Content Manager at HR World Adria working on HR World and HR Week projects with the aim of strengthening the HR function in the Adria region. Milica holds MA degrees in HR Management and English Language, Literature and Culture. During her studies and upon graduation she has been teaching foreign languages to students of different age groups, when she got inspired to broaden her skillset by starting a career in digital marketing as an intern at Degordian Belgrade.

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Aleksandra Fuštić Aleksandra Fuštić is a Community Manager of Montenegro HR Community (within HR WORLD). Prior to that, she developed her knowledge and skills in segments of HR, Marketing and Event Management by working as a CEO of the most famous job board in Montenegro Aleksandra has formal education in Foreign Languages, however, through her work experience she realized that the combination of HR and Marketing is a great road for her to pursue her career in. At HR WORLD she found a great and innovative place to stay in touch with the HR market and to contribute to the development of HR in the region, primarily in Montenegro.

Jovana Tomić Jovana started her professional career as a PR manager at a contemporary art gallery. Figuring out she enjoys everything

digital, Jovana joined the emerging IT industry in 2012. She has led teams in marketing and communications departments in diverse tech companies and advertising agencies in Belgrade and Zagreb. Of all the different things she worked on in the past, the field of communication is where she has found true inspiration. Communication models and procedures are often neglected and represent only an addition to marketing and human resource departments. Having mapped out this problem, she was motivated to start a communication consultancy business – Comms Coach.

Ivana Barbara Turkalj Chief Growth Officer at Above Academy, Ivana Barbara Turkalj has nearly 12 years of work experience in the corporate wellbeing industry. Having helped hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals learn how to improve their performance, and sustain it naturally, she is an expert on increasing personal energy,

capacity and stress resilience. Her mission is to create healthy workplaces by spreading awareness about the importance of investing in workplace wellbeing and people. She pours her heart and soul into shifting mindsets and firmly believes that taking care of people is the hallmark of successful companies.

Steve Usher Steve Usher is the founder of 5ive Studio, an experience design company based in Stockholm. He’s also the host of a podcast show called ‘The Experience Designers’. As a passionate advocate of the power of experiences he spends his time creating unique workshops for Talent Acquisition and HR teams. Teaching experience design principals, whilst delivering a format that’s an experience in itself.

Uroš Mitić Uroš believes in personal development and the huge

resource that lies within each individual. He is guided by the idea that we do not even know our own potentials and resources and that is precisely what gives him endless space for work and personal and professional development. Uroš has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and he is also a psychotherapist under the supervision of Transactional Analysis (ICTA Institute). He has years of experience in counselling and therapy work. By combining psychotherapy and organizational psychology, Uroš focused his work on understanding and managing team dynamics through leadership empowerment programs and team workshops.

Nikola Jovanović Nikola is an OD / HR consultant for personal, team and organizational development and a researcher with 20 years of experience in all three sectors. Recently, he has been particularly focused on digital transformation, the future of HR functions and the development of

small and medium enterprises in general. He often shares his thoughts on his blog, on LinkedIn and at various conferences and events, such as: TEDx, Digitalizuj. Me, AIESEC’s New Leaders Conferences, DisruptHR, etc.

Milana Vračar Milana has mostly worked in comms and project management positions at nonprofits, such as CERN, Responsible Business Forum Serbia, and CLEAR Global. She likes her role dynamic, so she enjoys working across different teams whenever possible. Her curiosity and preference for practical experience let her learn, innovate, and provide input on a range of subjects, including strategic planning, CSR, branding, HR, DEI, user experience, and content. She’s known as a fussy initiative-taker, always going around improving stuff. Integrity, tolerance, and quality are some of the values she promotes most.


Luka Babić Luka Babić is the co-founder and CEO of the people analytics platform, Orgnostic. Prior to founding Orgnostic, Luka was the Head of People Ops and the member of the Board at the tech unicorn Infobip. Luka is a Harvard University graduate, class of 2012. He also serves as the program director of the Psychology and Business academic undergraduate program at FEFA.

Ivan Stefanović Ivan has more than 10 years of experience in the area of organization design, organizational changes, business process design & improvement, strategy development, and performance management. His work spans over different industries, such as banking, oil & gas, gaming, and retail. He worked

with some of the most renowned organizations in Serbia, such as: NIS Gazprom Neft, Vojvodjanska banka, Banca Intesa, Orsus, Soccer Bet, Victory, SOS Childrens’ Villages, NALED, etc. Ivan is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Certified Business Architect and Certified Performance Management Professional.

Pedro Gajić I’m not a Sociologist, Psychologist or any of the well known HR experts. Actually, I don’t see myself as an HR at all. I am a pure business guy. I’ve been working in the IT industry for almost 15 years now and I have been going through all departments, from sales to project management. Somehow, I got the opportunity to scale the business from the human side and I became a human Growth Hacker. I like to say I’m the “Swiss army knife” with the sense for people operations.

Ivan Marković Ivan has 16 years of experience in Corporate Communications, Employer Branding and Corporate Culture. He started his career in company “Bovan Consulting”, after which he worked at Vip mobile for 11 years. In 2018, he started working at NIS as an Employer Branding Manager leading diverse projects to transform corporate culture, develop EVP, implement new corporate values and establish an Employer Branding function. In 2020, he took over the position of Employee Experience Manager with the aim of transforming NIS as an employer through improving both employee experience and engagement.

Anja Mučenski Psychologist and a coach with more than a decade of experience in international environ-

ment, finance and O&G, in areas of talent management, learning and development, design and implementation of people management practices and experiences, corporate culture and HCM systems. In NIS Gazprom Neft Anja is responsible for building a culture of learning, development and change through innovative and creative projects in the field of talent and learning, HR digitalization, people strategy, corporate culture.

Nataša Stamenković Senior HR Director, Consultant, HR Management Trainer and Lecturer, Psychologist, NLP Master, Reiki Master, Certified Mediator. Change Management Specialist with confirmed results in the pharmaceutical, FMCG, and oil and gas industries. Short, but valuable experience in the betting and gaming industry (MaxBet), and at a multiindustry company Roaming Group. Currently enjoying it as Head of HR at Al Dahra, a multinational agribusiness

leader. Proud of her business achievements, but more of her transforming 20 HR beginners into highclass HR managers/ directors working in Serbia and abroad.

Ivanka Novaković Ivanka is a psychologist, organizational development & leadership expert, trainer and ICF ACC business coach with 20 years of experience in respective fields. She is also the first PACT™ consultant for polarity integration in the region. Her work is driven by the vision of highly effective organizations and individuals motivated and inspired by their work and sustainable businesses with larger community impact on economic, social and environmental level.

Vojislav Bajić Vojislav is a business consultant focused on development of

new services by law firms using document automation technology. Vojislav is closely affiliated with BDK Advokati law firm which he advised on setting up blinkdraft| service for clients. He also consults BDK’s affiliated firm Legaltech solutions on product development and market placement of document automation software Draftomat.

Tijana Kovačević Tijana spent the last 15 years working across different geographies and various industries, from oil&gas and airlines, to FMCG and technology sectors. Throughout her career she has been focused on bringing performance, learning and talent management solutions to global organizations, while always busting HR myths and challenging traditional approaches to people related topics. Her passion both outside and at work is bringing the best out of people by having curious and honest conversations.

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Siniša Soćanin For nearly two decades, Siniša worked as a copywriter developing integrated campaigns for diverse domestic and international brands and clients from all imaginable industries, including non-profit projects and organizations, external and internal communications, employer branding, neuromarketing... As a Brand Writer, he’s using his broad experience to help strategically express and nourish HOOLOOVOO as an (employer) brand. Also an author, publishing novels for teenagers and adults.

tional Psychology and additional education in Experimental & Research Psychology (with main interest in Individual Differences), psychotherapy and psychological coaching. Miljana joined Humanity (now a part of TCP Software) in 2016. as a Senior Technical Recruiter and was promoted to HR & People Operations Manager role in February 2020. She is now leading a distributed global team of HR and Operations professionals aiming to create an exceptional company culture and employee experience. Miljana is passionate about strategic HR, people analytics, leadership and organizational development and coaching.

Raško Radovanović Miljana Šundić Miljana Šundić has over 10 years of experience across multiple HR functions primarily in IT, Telco and Pharma industries. She graduated from Faculty of Philosophy with major in Organiza-

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Raško is a partner and Head of the competition and compliance practice at Radovanović Stojanović & Partners. Raško has experience in advising on antitrust-related aspects of dayto-day business operations, internal investigations, setting-up of robust compliance

programs and carrying out complex risk assessments and mitigating measures. He represents clients in investigation proceedings and dawn-raids and coordinates high-profile multi-jurisdictional cases. Raško is continually recognized as the leading expert according to Legal 500, Chambers and Partners, Who’s Who Legal and ILO Client Choice.

Predrag Jovanović Peđa Jovanović is a Senior Partner in the Atria Group. In addition to the role of international business development, he is a mentor, trainer and a coach with extensive international experience. His areas of expertise are: coaching, NLP, leadership development, effective communication, sales and presentation skills. He has led several large projects of leadership development and corporate culture changes, as well as a number of different training and coaching programs. Some of Peđa’s titles are: Master Certified

Coach (MCC) (International Coach Federation), ICF Mentor Coach, PCM Certified Trainer, Persona Global Master Consultant.

Vanja Jakovljević Vanja Jakovljević, Head of Delivery at BPS World. Master psychologist with experience in global gaming and IT headhunting, specialized for high level positions. Education in RE&CBT psychotherapy.

Jelena Kralj Jelena has over 25 years of experience in both private and public sectors. For the past 14 years she is a Country Manager for Pedersen & Partners in Serbia, a leading International Executive Search firm. She is an Executive & Leadership Coach, ICF ACC and ACE Certified

Coach (Accelerating Coach Excellence by David B. Peterson & David Goldsmith), with an additional extensive experience in coaching in the areas of Career development and Career transition. She cooperates with a broad portfolio of clients who mostly come from Private Equity, Financial Services, Industrial, Consumer & Retail, Life Sciences & Health Care and Professional Services. Prior to entering the ES industry, she worked as a Head of Securities & Capital Markets and as an Advisor to the Minister in the Serbian Ministry of Finance and she spent 12 years trading successfully, on the Belgrade Stock Exchange, 5 of which with her own broker-dealer company. She contributed to various Associations, ICF Serbia Chapter included, as Board Member and Chairperson.

Jelena Kantar Kostić Jelena Kantar Kostić is a professional coach acredited by the International

Coaching Federation at the PCC level, and also holds coaching accreditation by the Besser Siegmund Institute in Hamburg. Jelena is an NLP and corporate trainer with more than 10 years of experience in training related to NLP, sales and communication. She is also owner of the Eho centar. Jelena has gratuated at University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law.

Tatjana Mamula Nikolić Tatjana has over 25 years of professional experience in marketing, research and management. She had been managing and marketing director in several research agencies. Over the eight last years, she also holds a role as a University professor, lecturing on marketing and management subjects. As a consultant, coach and trainer, Tatjana has been working with numerous clients in ACT2B firm that she launched in 2015. She got her PCC (Professional Cer-


tified Coach ICF) certificate in 2018 and ‘Points of You train of trainers’ certificate in 2017, and certificate for the ILO trainer “Grow, Start, Improve Your Business” program in 2020. Tatjana is a member of numerous professional associations: ICF and Association of Business Women, Serbian Association of Managers, Serbian Association of Employers.

continuously focusing on strategic goals, employee satisfaction and personal development. Sofija is especially interested in the areas of HR tech and analytics, so she led the process of selecting HR core and ATS solution in the role of HR expert in the current company.

As a master psychologist, Sofija focused on industrial-organizational psychology during studies. She gained experience in the same field, primarily through HR general and recruitment and selection jobs, continuing her career with a wide range of jobs in the HR field. Sofija has been successfully leading the HR team in Levi9 Technology Services since 2016, when the Belgrade office was established. Together with her team she supported Levi9 growth from only a few to 170 employees in 2021,

Marko is one of the digital marketing pioneers in the Balkan region and one of the “Top 30 Under 30 Serbian Young Entrepreneurs”. When he joined Nordeus, the most successful startup in Serbia, he was leading the marketing department. Last 3 years this incredibly smart guy has been the Head of Top Eleven, Nordeus’s top ranking mobile sports game. Co-founder and managing director of a startup “Pukka Themes”; Strategy director at “Httpool”; Managing director at “Web Media Agency”; Co-writer: “Design

mentoring and speaking programs at Talks and Folks Agency.

Danica Ristić

Milovan Dekić Marko Jevtić

Sofija Jovanović

Thinking: How to develop products that everyone wants” (2020). Owns a certificate from Stanford University; Mentor and speaker at Talks and Folks agency.

Milovan is one of the pioneers of applying user experience research on mobile games in Southeast Europe. Milovan was the first user experience researcher in the world dedicated to the massively popular football management game Top Eleven. Currently, he is a user research lead @ Nordeus. By using Design Thinking and promoting User-Centered Design, he developed a holistic approach much needed to business decision making. He summarized his over 6 years long experience in a book on Design Thinking (2020), that he co authored with Marko Jevtić. This top expert will share with you his knowledge and experience through

Danica Ristić is a graduate of the Faculty of Philology (Spanish language) with a passion for HR and an overwhelming desire to help people. After her corporate career was put on pause by a maternity leave she decided to head in a different direction. As of September 2021, she is the founder of a consulting agency Nica Nikolajevna, aimed to improve the careers and employment of people everywhere. She loves all of her jobs, and she always has. She aims to help everyone else say the same.

Zoran Soknić Zoran graduated in English language and literature.

He has 15 years of experience in the HR department on various local positions + international assignments. He is always open to new challenges and he likes multinational and international working environments. His specialties are: HR / L&D, budgeting, HR policies, performance management, internal communications, succession planning, recruiting, employee and labor relations, salary review, etc.

streamlining the product delivery processes for the technology solutions Beyond42 is providing to its clients and partners.

Ivana Canić

Vlado Damjanović Vlado Damjanović currently works as a Head of Delivery at the Serbian startup Beyond42, a company that developed CollectiVibe, industry-leading technology for organizing and managing virtual and hybrid events. For years now, he has been working in the software development industry. In his current role, he works on

HR director of Strauss Adriatic and passionate coffee lover who learns about coffee every day, in the best coffee environment in the country. More than 10 years of experience in HR and still very much in love with it. Also, a two year “trip” in Sales department made her learn more about business, about herself but also, about HR. Graduated from Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, department: Andragogy. It means that concept of Lifelong learning became her ideological orientation before entering the HR world. A recreational writer with, so far, two published books. Mother of a teenage girl.

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DISRUPTION 1K4A6074 Nada Milošević


GROWTH MINDSET 1K4A6130_1 Dimitrije Popović


MOTIVATION 1K4A6099 Dimitrije Turudić


TALENT 1K4A6064 Doroteja Rokvić


VALUES 1K4A6055 Goran Rakić


PERFORMANCE 1K4A6062 Gorana Aća


CULTURAL SHIFT 1K4A6086 Isidora Gačević


CROWDSOURCING 1K4A6027 Jasna Marković


COMPENSATION 1K4A6014 Jovana Kulezić


BUBBLE 1K4A6023 Luna Bognar


WELLBEING 1K4A6104 Mihajlo Milošević


CREATIVITY 1K4A6096 Milena Kulić


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