Production company, Romania: Training and redeployment
This Romanian production company is a private company, with both national and foreign ownership. The company’s main focus is on the production and distribution of hardware products, such as mechanical and electromechanical locks, security doors and fittings, and industrial locks. Its organisational structure is made up of a number of key departments: management; human resources (HR); business and sales; marketing; sales support and logistics; and finance.
The company has been active for seven years. Its main client base consists of end users, such as those from the hospitality industry as well as householders. The current economic environment is favourable for the company, taking into account the positive trend in the Romanian economy at present. It is the company’s objective to become the most competitive producer of these kinds of products in Romania and to promote its own brands, eventually becoming the market leader in its field.
Currently, the company has 960 employees, with a staff turnover rate of about 20%. It does not have any age profile preferences and values workers of all ages, but particularly appreciates the professional experience of older workers. Among the advantages that the company perceives of having older workers are:
- the high levels of theoretical and practical experience of these workers;
- a greater openness to share their knowledge with younger colleagues;
- the fact that they are less confrontational, more loyal and confidential.
Nonetheless, some disadvantages of older workers include higher wages and reduced involvement in decision-making and problem-solving processes as they approach retirement age.
There are no special agreements within the company, except those pertaining to internal by-laws, nor is there any special agreement for older employees working in the company.
Good practice today
At present, the company is implementing a series of measures pertaining to its older workers. Such measures relate to: recruitment, training and development, promotion, career management, health and well-being, intergenerational relations, wage policy and redeployment. Among its most important measures is the professional redeployment of older workers. As the company’s employees are carefully selected, they possess great professional potential; therefore, the company aims to redeploy staff in a professional manner, to maintain and enhance the workforce’s performance and the quality of the company’s products and services. Gender equality also appears to be a priority for the company. The management division, HR and other departments are responsible for implementing the redeployment initiative, as well as monitoring, coordinating and analysing its effectiveness.
Activities relating to the redeployment measure also include analysis of:
- employees’ career objectives and aspirations within the organisation;
- workers’ perceptions of career progression opportunities and barriers;
- perceived age discrimination within the organisation;
- education and training needs;
- reasons for and against participation in education and training;
- attitudes towards participation in education and training;
- opinions regarding new technology;
- opinions on the implementation of new information technology (IT);
- occupational health and safety concerns.
The target group for this particular measure consists of some 432 older employees, aged over 45 years. The redeployment measure forms part of a larger initiative, which provides training courses targeted at all of the company’s employees. One of the aims of this measure is to help older workers overcome their fear of being replaced by younger employees.
Since June 2004, when the measure was first launched, 105 persons have been trained and have participated in five specialised training sessions on CLIQ technology (based on miniaturised electronics that create a more secure lock), in addition to sales techniques and contracts bargaining. At present, plans are underway to introduce a training session every three months over the next three years, depending on technological and economical changes in the market.
The results of this initiative impacted positively on the company’s production turnover in 2005, which increased by 2% in comparison with the level for June 2004. While the company maintained the same number of employees as in the previous year and delivered the same types of products and services, a better qualified workforce enabled it to increase its production turnover. Another positive indicator of the measure is the staff replacement and turnover rate, which decreased by 10% compared with the rate in June 2004.
One of the main reasons why the company chose to implement this redeployment measure was to reduce its staff turnover rates. Top management decided to introduce the measure following a rigorous analysis of staff trends by the company’s HR department. As there was no best practice model on which to base the measure, the implementation process required careful preparation regarding the requirements for applying this measure, along with open communication about the objectives of the initiative with both staff in general and the target group in particular.
The measure is financed using the company’s own resources. In the near future, however, it plans to apply for EU funding for its human resources. The measure takes a life-course approach in the sense that the company aims to show younger workers that, over the next 10 to 20 years, the retirement age of workers will certainly be increased; therefore, workers will potentially face professional redeployment throughout their working lives. By enhancing the skills and knowledge of employees as much as possible, the company aims to contribute to the professional redeployment of its workforce. Potential benefits of such a measure include:
- encouraging employees to build up their résumé;
- assisting workers in documenting on-the-job skills that may not be formally recognised;
- promoting fairness by not discriminating against older workers;
- improving training, advice and guidance for older workers;
- offering incentives to older workers to stay on in the labour market;
- including older employees in performance appraisal and management initiatives.
Particular strengths of this measure include: encouraging job mobility among older workers to increase their exposure to new challenges and more varied work; adapting career management and remuneration packages for workers of different ages; viewing all employees, regardless of age, as important assets that can continue to yield a high rate of return over a long period of time, if they are adequately managed, educated and trained, and also by matching workers to appropriate jobs and visa versa. A weakness of this measure is the assumption that retirement is an earned right for all employees.
Development of the case study
Before applying this initiative, the company’s employee-related measures were based on wage policy only. However, a thorough analysis showed that a reduced staff turnover rate, along with a greater focus on redeployment of workers within the company, would lead to increased profitability and competitiveness.
This initiative follows a previous measure regarding wage policy and was instigated due to high staff turnover rates experienced by the company.
The outcome of the abovementioned changes is a higher degree of stability within the company, along with a greater focus on improving the quality and skills of the company’s workforce.
Future measures being planned by the company relate to further training initiatives aimed at promoting and implementing lifelong learning strategies. Such initiatives would involve training for employees according to age and work design, for example, assessing physical, environmental and organisational risk factors in the workplace for older workers and offering flexible work arrangements.