Romania: Working conditions and satisfaction at work

The National Trade Union Bloc, in conjunction with the National Institute of Statistics, conducted surveys in 2010 and 2011 on working conditions, levels of satisfaction and performance at work. The subsequent report, published in 2012, provides a comparative analysis of employees’ views, focusing on working schedules, atypical work, vocational training, satisfaction at the workplace (related to evaluation and pay), and working abroad.

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Introduction

The National Institute of Statistics (INS) provides regular updates on working conditions in Romania. Until 2006 the publication ‘Living Conditions Survey’ (Ancheta asupra Condiţiilor de Viaţă, ACOVI) contained a separate chapter on working conditions. In the second quarter of 2007, the Household Labour Force Survey (Ancheta Forţei de Muncă in Gospodării, AMIGO) was expanded to include a new module and a complementary questionnaire for the collection of data and information on health and safety at the workplace.

The Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection (MMFPS) produces a quarterly Statistical Bulletin of Labour and Social Protection, which carries administrative information collected by the Labour Inspection Office (IM) on occupational accidents and diseases.

In 2010, the National Trade Union Bloc (BNS), a national trade union confederation, set up the Office for the Monitoring of the Labour Market and Quality of Workplaces, a project co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the Sectoral Operational Programme for Human Resources Development (SOP HRD). The aim of the project was to study the working conditions of Romanian employees in 2010–2011.

The report, Working conditions, satisfaction and performance at the workplace, was published in 2012. The report begins with an overview of this type of research in Europe, with particular reference to Eurofound‘s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS). It continues with a comparative analysis of the responses given by employees during surveys conducted in Romania in 2010 and 2011, grouped under the following broad themes:

  • work schedule;
  • atypical work;
  • vocational training;
  • satisfaction at work (evaluation and pay);
  • working abroad.

The report ends with conclusions and recommendations. Its key findings are summarised below.



Survey methodology

The purpose of the survey was to provide a picture of the working conditions of Romanian employees in all sectors of the Romanian economy. Data were collected with the aid of a questionnaire during face-to-face interviews held at the home of the interviewees. These interviews took place throughout the country in both July 2010 and September–October 2011, and were with people who were employees and 15 years or older.

About the questionnaire

The questionnaire consisted of boxes to be filled in with the respondent’s personal data, followed by 44 questions grouped into three sections:

  • working conditions (working time, flexibility, overtime work and related pay; atypical work and its relation to personal life, shift work, health and safety at work and protection measures at the workplace provided by the company, professional and social relations at the workplace);
  • satisfaction at the workplace (promotion and loyalty policies, access to vocational training, industrial relations and their specifics at the workplace, self-assessment of workload and of satisfaction at work compared with earnings);
  • performance (way in which the employer evaluated employee performance and forms of vocational training, self-assessment of work performance and so on).

Sampling plan

The survey sample consisted of individuals deemed representative at a national level and involved a two-tier poll.

In the first tier, the sampling plan relied on the Multifunctional Sample of Territorial Zones (Eşantionul Multifuncţional de Zone Teritoriale, EMZOT) 2002 – a master sample made up of 780 primary sampling units in Romania’s 41 counties and the six administrative sectors of the Bucharest Municipality. EMZOT 2002 was developed from the March 2002 population and housing census data and will be updated periodically.

The second tier involved the selection of 2,398 households from the stock of the AMIGO survey. These households formed the basis of the research into working conditions, satisfaction and performance at work for people with status of employee, a total of 4,471 people.

The results were extrapolated based on coefficients assigned to the salaried workers who answered the questionnaire. The non-response rate was 2.7%.



Main survey results

Work schedule

The share of workers accustomed to work eight hours per day and five days per week fell from 91.3% in 2010 to 88.7% in 2011. In 2011, 8.1% of respondents said they worked more than eight hours per day and five days per week and 3.2% said they worked fewer hours and days than this (compared with 8.7% in 2010).

The flexibility of the working schedule appears to have diminished in 2011 when 89.7% of employees had a fixed schedule as against 87.5% in 2010 (Table 1).

Table 1: Types of work schedule (%)

Type

2010

2011

Stable

87.5

89.7

Rising

5.8

4.6

Variable

4.6

4.1

At employee’s choice

1.8

1.4

Others

0.4

0.2

Total

100.0

100.0

Source: BNS (2010)

Although the share of those who, for family reasons, could change their work schedules by at least one hour more or one hour less at the start or end of the day dropped from 46.5% in 2010 to 39.4% in 2011, the share of those who could choose their own schedule rose slightly from 10.7% to 11.2%.

In 2011, almost half of the employees (49.3%) was able to take time off during working time and 39.7% had permission to take days off without deducting them from their annual leave.

Atypical work

Shift work accounted for a constant share in 2010 and 2011, with 27.8% of the employees stated that their work was done in shifts. Most of the shift workers (40.0% in 2010 and 45.6% in 2011) only worked daytime shifts (shifts one and two) (Table 2).

Table 2: Shift work (%)

Number of shifts

2010

2011

Continuous technological and work processes (including Saturdays and Sundays)

12.8

14.2

Three shifts (including nights)

28.4

24.8

Two shifts (only day shifts)

40.0

45.6

Sometimes night, sometimes day shifts (including alternative shifts)

15.9

13.4

Always same shift

1.5

1.0

Other combinations

1.4

1.0

Total

100.0

100.0

Source: BNS (2010)

Of those who declared they worked in shifts, 53.5% in 2010 and 47.7% in 2011 said this arrangement was convenient for their personal life.

The share of employees who did overtime work fell from 18.6% in 2010 to 14.5% in 2011. Among this people, 40.7% in 2010 and 35.3% in 2011 did not receive any pay for the extra working time.

In 2011, 26.8% of the respondents said they worked late evenings or night as a rule, with 44.7% of them stating that this was a convenient arrangement for their personal life.

Also in 2011, 35.3% of the workers stated that Saturday was usually a working day for them and 18.5% said the same thing about Sunday.

Vocational training

The overwhelming share of the employees (77.5% in 2011 and 75.2% in 2010) considered that the work they did at their workplace was in line with their qualification/skills. In 2011, 9.6% of the workers (9.8% in 2010) complained that the workload did not fit in with their level of qualification or skill.

In 2011, 31.9% of the respondents said that their company provided for continuous vocational training (17.2% through vocational training courses and 18.2% through on-the-job training) compared with 28.9% in 2010 (13.3% and 17.1% respectively).

The responses indicated that more than a third of employers arranged for vocational training once a year (32.9% in 2010 and 35.2% in 2011) (Table 3).

Table 3: Frequency of vocational training activities (%)

Frequency

2010

2011

Once a year

32.9

35.2

Occasionally

28.2

24.9

More than one year apart

24.0

23.7

Less than one year apart

14.9

16.2

Total

100.0

100.0

Source: BNS (2010)

More than half of the respondents stated that the length of the most recent vocational training course arranged by the company was a maximum of one month (Table 4).

Table 4: Length of continuous vocational training offered by company (%)
 

2010

2011

Less than a week

33.8

23.7

One week but no more than one month

24.1

30.5

1–3 months

12.1

14.9

3–6 months

5.1

3.5

Six months to a year

4.1

3.4

1–2 years

3.6

2.8

Two years and more

2.5

2.0

Unspecified length

3.7

2.7

The company did organise training but employee did not attend

11.0

16.5

Total

100.0

100.0

Source: BNS (2010)

For 88.0% of the employees in 2011 the knowledge acquired from the vocational training courses proved useful, while 65% of them said that no assessment was made of their performance after graduating from the course.

A share of 94.0% of the respondents said that the recruitment for the vocational training was provided in line with the principle of equal opportunities and only 6% claimed that access to vocational training was a matter of personal connections.

Satisfaction at work

The survey assessed satisfaction at work on the basis of the employees’ perception of the company’s promotion policies, reward schemes, and evaluation and pay criteria.

In 2011, 44.9% of the employees (51.9% in 2010) were of the opinion that overall earnings were commensurate with the amount of work performed.

The responses by the interviewed workers indicate that work performance and experience, together with length of service, continue to be viewed as the most important criteria for promotion (Table 5).

Table 5: Perception of employers’ promotion policies (%)

Criteria

2010

2011

Work performance

31.2

37.0

Length of service

8.8

10.3

Work performance and length of service

43.4

39.8

Personal connections

11.0

8.7

Other

5.6

4.2

Total

100.0

100.0

Source: BNS (2010)

And yet 8.7% of the employees in 2011 (down from 11.0% in 2010) placed personal connections as the number one criterion for promotion in a company.

Satisfaction at work depends on both promotion policies and incentives intended to reward employee loyalty. Approximately a quarter of interviewees (24.2% in 2011 and 21.7% in 2010) pointed to incentives and occasional bonuses as the top ways of gaining employees’ loyalty (Table 6).

Table 6: Incentives designed to encourage loyalty (%)

Types of incentives

2010

2011

Premiums, incentives and occasional bonuses

21.7

24.2

Salary extras/fringe benefits

12.4

11.4

Promotion and promotion enhancement conditions

8.3

12.6

Open recognition and citations before peers

9.7

8.3

Other means

15.7

8.8

No incentive for loyalty

50.7

43.3

Source: BNS (2010)

Although the figure is declining, the share of employees who said that their loyalty was not appreciated by the company is still high (50.7% in 2010 compared with 43.3% in 2011).

The degree of satisfaction at work can also be assessed using the answers of respondents to a number of other questions.

For example, 5.8% of the employees in 2011 (4.7% in 2010) said they felt underused at work and 5.0% (5.9% in 2010) said they were overworked.

For 15.6% of the employees in 2011 and 13.5% in 2010, the workload did not fit in the normal working time.

When asked about their information and consultation rights, only 13.4% of the employees in 2011 (13.3% in 2010) said that their employer sought their opinion before making organisational changes, and 27.4% (28.5% in 2010) said that the employer took into account initiatives and proposals by employees.

More than half of the answers received (53.2% in 2011 and 52.0% in 2010) revealed that work performance is not assessed on a regular basis and by an established pattern.



Commentary

The study is useful in providing information on:

  • the consequences of the economic crisis;
  • the protracted effects of the crisis;
  • the introduction of highly controversial and deep-seated changes in the legislation governing industrial relations.

The fact that the study was carried out by one of the social partners, which represents the workers’ interests, jointly with experts from INS, is in itself a novelty.

Among the conclusions drawn by the report’s authors from the respondents’ contributions are some that also reflect a personal view that Romanians work a lot (some 8% of the employees worked more than eight hours per day and more than five days per week) and that, despite the latest legislative changes, the labour market has not become more flexible and the working schedule has become even more inflexible.

Similarly, survey results show how the economic crisis has taken a heavy toll on the labour market. In 2011 55% of the employees were dissatisfied with their pay, and the frequency of vocational training and team-building actions decreased.

From the study’s recommendations, we note the authors’ advice to employers to:

  • intensify employee involvement in the process of decision-making;
  • make information and consultation more efficient;
  • attach more importance to ways of rewarding employee loyalty to the company;
  • provide regular vocational training and assessment of work performance.



Contact points

National Trade Union Bloc (BNS):

  • President Dumitru Costin, bns@bns.ro
  • Dana Badea, Press Department, presa@bns.ro



Bibliography

BNS (Blocul Naţional Sindical) (2009), Raport de cercetare privind discriminarea de gen in piata muncii (2.32MB, MS Word), BNS, Bucharest.

BNS (Blocul Naţional Sindical) (2010), Salarizarea în sectorul public vs. sectorul privat (43.8MB, PDF)Salar, BNS, Bucharest.

BNS (Blocul Naţional Sindical) (2011), Calitatea ocupării şi angajarea cu salarii mici (38.69MB, PDF), BNS, Bucharest.

BNS (Blocul Naţional Sindical) (2012), Condiţiile de muncă, satisfacţia şi performanţa la locul de muncă [Working conditions, satisfaction and performance at the workplace], BNS, Bucharest, 2012.

Eurofound (2007), Parent-Thirion, A., Fernández Macías, E., Hurley, J. and Vermeylen, G., Fourth European Working Conditions Survey, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

Eurofound (2012), Parent-Thirion, A., Vermeylen, G., van Houten, G., Lyly-Yrjänäinen, M., Biletta, I. and Cabrita, J., Fifth European Working Conditions Survey: Overview report, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

Constantin Ciutacu, Institute of National Economy, Romanian Academy

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