Dušan Jovanović

Fairness and personalisation as coordinates of the „comp&ben” strategy

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I know where I want to go. And I have been treading that path my whole life, it is not easy, I constantly keep pushing boundaries. I wanted to prove that it is possible to live nicely and normally in Serbia, that a person can be successful, that your work is being appreciated, that you remain modest, yet consistent. That you can affect your micro-world which shall expand as time goes by. And I have been slowly arriving to that point where my success becomes the success of other people as well. The company has recognised that, and now it has been officially presented – everything I do here, I shall take to sa.global in Paris. We arrive to a universal conclusion – quality has no price.

Is personalisation still one of the most important retention tools? In what way is your mode of personalisation reflected in relation to the employees?

Personalisation is certainly important, what we do when it comes to personalisation is that we understand what our employees want, which opens the topic of communication culture. It should be a two-way street, that is important, above all, for defining the employees’ needs and, subsequently, for the realisation of projects.

Nowadays the basic benefits are considered somewhat implicit in most companies. The word „basic“ itself has been changing, so under such benefits we now include a private health insurance for the employees and their family members. Why? We think that the cooperation between an employee and a company affects significantly their family members as well. As a step further, our focus is to bring close the employees’ family members to our operations as well by including them in various events, New Year’s activities ... We have the „Kids Corner“ as well, in our office, where the children may spend time while mom or dad are working.

The idea of sa.global is to transform the career in our company into an unforgettable journey where we focus on the development of professional skills. We provide various trainings, Microsoft licences and as a serious investment we emphasise LinkedIn learning. Each employee is encouraged to learn in its areas of interest, and to develop both the soft skills and technical skills. We pay special attention to travelling, which provides different perspectives and brings forth international culture.

When it comes to a „having fun“ component, we go back again to a personalisation. We have analysed how the young people live, work, learn, walk, practice... And then we have dealt with the topic of traffic in Belgrade and made it easier for the young people as much as possible, and we have provided the use of gym and personalised trainings within our business premises.

Speaking of earnings, we believe that the performance reviews are very important. We have defined them precisely in terms of salary and we made effort in a way to say „No“ to that bubble trend on the IT market.

When we receive a pay raise request by a colleague, we are here to carefully listen to the arguments and discuss them together.

In addition to our desire to operate with a surplus, we strive as well to educate people. When I say educate I refer to the „old“ way of learning, by applying a certain methodology. It is not enough to watch one YouTube clip, it is rather necessary that certain knowledge processing takes place, and even to make some mistakes while working, in order to learn adequately. When we call someone a senior in sa.global, such title is confirmed by the market as well as by the clients. And it takes time to attain that.

Bonus is related to the performance reviews and it is communicated transparently, in order for the employees of sa.global to know what and when to expect it, from the moment of entering the company.

When we draw the line, the most important thing is that we appreciate the results of our people, the company is the one to take the first step, in order for the employees to know that someone is really taking care of them.

The goal is that our employee, after investing themselves with our company, is able to feel and say: „I do not want to leave this place”.

 

It seems that in the last five years, the salary, flexibility and company culture were among the three main benefits in the IT industry. Is there any new benefit that has been slowly finding its place in the „top three” or does the said trend continue?

The salary is important and for us it is certainly necessary that it follows a development of our employees. Besides, that should be the case with any work. Mostly the company itself raises this question, so it often happens that the colleagues are surprised.😊

We tend to be fair and to make the employees aware that we take care of them in every moment.

At the end of the day, we work in that kind of industry where as the colleagues are more senior, the company may better capitalise the value of their work. That is in our best interest. The success of our employees is our success as well.

A transparent and open „comp&ben” strategy which regulates the question of salaries, bonuses and  rewarding is a precondition of our successful operations.

On the other hand, in this field the novelties are very much important as well. As a company that plans and thinks long term, we are among the first on the market to introduce a life insurance with savings plan for its employees.

We are aware that in these times the word “safety” has a specific weight and significance. We wanted, as much as possible, to show that we are there for our colleagues and that we represent to them an additional support, both in career and in the private life.

Second thing is that people perceive that we really take care of them and their families, because if, God forbid, something happens to our employee, the family members shall have at least some sort of financial safety.

The third thing that we would like to emphasise is a fact that that we especially tend to influence our people to stay longer in the company, simply said, to the mutual benefit: the employees, after entering the life insurance program, are able to withdraw a certain amount of financial means after 3,5,7 or 10 years,  and to use that money as they find appropriate, and we are not talking about small amounts. When we presented this benefit, the „feedback” from our colleagues was: „That would be some kind of second Xmas bonus”, that was how they thought of it. Our response was: „No, it is not a second Xmas bonus, it is an insurance for the future.” In some more organised countries this exists as a standard, it is about serious investment and dedication. It is interesting that people who are in a mature stage of life tend to understand the importance of this benefit, whereas the younger colleagues have a different attitude, but respond nicely to it as well.

I would like to mention as well the recruitment as an important segment that should be conducted in a quality manner, followed by the quality onboarding –  an employee who has passed through a well-organised business process comes to a contact with high standards, which continue in the work with the clients. That way HR helps operations.

In the past 20 years, we have often replicated the success stories of western countries that are more developed than us. What is it about the IT industry that the western countries where you are operating offer to the candidates, which has not arrived here yet, that which you believe will arrive in a couple of years? Or are these benefits almost balanced now?

Benefits are almost balanced, I can even say that the Serbian market is more progressive, considering that we offer some things that others do not have to that extent or set in that manner. I have an opportunity to work in the other markets as well and to follow their development. And right now, one of the tasks is to create the analysis by the categories on a global level and to get detailed answers, but overall we are not that behind.

The IT industry has made a great boom in the last 7-8 years, which means that the structure of people who are working is considerably younger. There are senior people, but there is a great tide of young people starting, and already making a great impact on the company and the industry itself. In the West this already exists, the markets are not that young and do not create a boom effect as it is the case with us. Rules of the game are defined slightly differently, the market is more stable, and there is one interesting thing, a 3-month notice, which I believe shall come to Serbia, as is the case in some countries where we operate.

Global consulting house Oliver Wyman conducted a research which indicates that the future of leadership shall be based on the manager’s authenticity. Does your company allow to reflect the authenticity on everyday operations, given that the company has its procedures, standards that are very clear, often even limiting?

With a serious approach and experience, with the right team, and together with the business department, tHR may in fact implement various things and activities in each domain. The success of sa.global in Serbia in general lies in that freedom that is given to the HR. If I hadn’t had the support of GM, if we had not cooperated in a way that we do, HR would not have been what it is now, whereas the business would not have had the benefits from us.

What does a business get with a good motivation of employees? It gets one KPI which does not get attention number of referrals. Number of people who present the company to their people. It is a KPI that is very successful and important. From the financial side that would be the amount of referral fee, which is budgeted. A line manager seeking candidates has the number of received application as a benefit. From the stage „why do we need HR?“, we have come to the point where HR deserved a place at the table, to be a partner in each project and to be asked for its opinion. HR should be brave as well, and tend to set the standards and push the limits.

We noticed that on Joberty you are marked as one of the most attractive employers in the IT industry. What is that sets you apart from the others as a desirable employer and what gives you this ranking on Joberty? If I were a candidate, why would you say that this is the right place for myself and my development in the next five years?

Above all, if you were a candidate, at that stage you would be already treated, so you would say: „Well, this is a good place for work, these are cool people who listen and talk”. That is a two-way street. From the first contact with the candidate, we know that we are talking with a potential colleague. That is a respect which is reflected through the informing about each step of the process, in preparation for each interview, in the reception, relationship, feedback; so if you come to the final interview, you already know a lot about the company, and then we talk about the career development. What makes sa.global recognisable is the possibility of career diversification, we are talking about the small steps, about the professional development, change of position, department and that is a type of possibility. Our colleagues have a possibility to work abroad – we have recently seen off our colleague to Germany, to sa.global. The company does that globally and it is an open call. Besides, when the colleagues wish to work on some new things, to learn a new technology, we are fully open for support and discussion about that.

It seems to me that it is of extreme importance to fundamentally understand each employee and to act accordingly.

Dušan Jovanović, Head of Human Resources, sa.global

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