Furs Company, Romania: Recruitment, flexible working practices, redeployment
Furs Company is a private, joint stock company with foreign shareholders. It belongs to the ‘light industry’ sector, specifically textiles and furs; the company concentrates its activity on furs and on protective clothing for special working environments (such as construction and railways).
For years, the total number of employees at Furs has been on the decline, and currently amounts to 25 workers, of whom 12% are aged under 25 years of age, 30% between 30 and 40 years, and 58% over 40 years.
Overall, three employees hold a university degree (12%), five employees have secondary school certification (20%), and 17 employees hold vocational school certificates or have attended training courses (68%).
There is no trade union or works council within the company, but an employee representative does consult with the management.
Generally, the company values highly an older workforce with its accumulation of experience. Nevertheless, it does not have an explicit age profile preference; rather, the company focuses its attention on hiring experienced personnel. It aims to reduce turnover among the existing workforce, including those over 45 years of age.
Older workers are well integrated in their teams. Generally, they are more competent than younger workers, observe the working hours more attentively and are more open to sharing their knowledge and experience with colleagues.
Good practice today
The most important measure taken by the company in this context is the recruitment of workers aged over 40 years. Generally, only experienced workers are hired, regardless of their age. However, as there is little chance of finding qualified young workers in this field due to the lack of vocational schools, all manufacturing techniques and skills have to be transferred from one generation to the next.
The company’s management decided to initiate this process in liaison with the human resource (HR) department, which is in charge of implementing the measure, after close consultation with the employee representative.
Each year for the past two years, two new employees have been hired under this measure. Today, over 80% of the employees are older workers (mainly women aged over 40 years). Thus, this initiative favours the employment of older, more experienced workers.
There are no significant differences between older and younger workers’ wages for the same amount and quality of work. Prizes and bonuses are awarded to hard-working employees and for special performance and initiative.
The relationship between the generations is good, with mutual respect being shown within and outside the workplace. There are no pre-defined teams: everybody works as part of a production line. Constant support is given to those encountering difficulties, and older workers work alongside young, newly hired employees, providing them with comprehensive hands-on training.
Workforce rotation is a common practice. If an employee does not fit into a certain workplace, he or she is included in a training programme and is redeployed to another job. Flexible working practices (part-time contracts, flexible working programme) are allowed on a case-by-case basis according to each individual’s profile (age, health, experience), and depending on the field of activity.
One-to-one or group meetings between management and employees are held on a regular basis on various topics such as staff training for specific workplaces or due to changes in their activity. In addition, team meetings and discussions take place between management and the employee representative regarding changes in quality and conditions of work, such as the implementation of new technology, rotation of the workforce after a training course or changes in the wage policy or wage scale.
This measure forms part of a more complex HR policy and constitutes the first step taken by the company during the period the person is under contract. It is followed by other measures such as staff motivation, creating a good working environment and maintaining a positive social dialogue between management and employees.
The management constantly strives to create optimum working conditions in the workshops and in other common spaces (such as the lunch room and cafeteria), as well as continually monitoring the existing health and working conditions of employees.
This continuous involvement and concern regarding the health of the workforce benefits older employees in particular. There are no major negative effects for the company other than the possible risk of an increased level of sickness absence due to the age of the employees.
The company has maintained a core team of professionals aged between 40 and 45 years, who are highly specialised in operating the different equipment. Indeed, the age profile of this team could even increase further over time. This strategy of a core experienced team may be considered key to the company’s success, while also representing the main strength of the current practice and a solid basis for the future development of the company.
Development of the case study
Hiring older workers is a strategic objective of top management at Furs company; at the same time, young employees who are willing to learn are also hired and involved in on-the-job training. As mentioned above, the goals of age management and the future of the organisation are implicitly linked.
The management of the company considers its HR policy to be a long-term objective, with a special emphasis on age management.
Contact: Gabriela Nedelescu, General Director