Good employers value their employees highly

The human resources company Hewitt Associates carried out a survey in 2006 to find the best companies to work for in Hungary. The survey covered 23,858 employees in 123 companies in Hungary. It found that the best employers treat their employees as a valuable resource. The survey also examined employees’ satisfaction with their pay in relation to their performance, in addition to touching on the issue of work–life balance.

Survey methodology

In 2006, the Hungarian branch of Hewitt Associates, a global human resource (HR) services company, carried out a survey to find the best employers among 123 companies with a total of 23,858 employees. This was the sixth edition of the Best Employers Study, which is conducted in partnership with the Hungarian weekly journal HVG. Winners were found both among large companies (with over 250 employees) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The rating is based on the opinions of both employees and employers, who were requested to complete separate questionnaires. The employee questionnaire covers a wide range of topics such as: working conditions, career and development opportunities, salary and extra-wage allowances, assessment of senior management, relations between colleagues or departments, relations with supervisors, work-life balance, HR practices and company processes. The questionnaire addressing employers and company managers focuses on the company leadership, including questions on leadership engagement and communication, HR priorities, business priorities and company strategy. Finally, an HR audit of the company was carried out, focusing on areas such as: talent management, employer branding, salaries and benefits, work–life balance, HR strategy and efficiency, and performance management.

Key findings

Increase in job insecurity

In 2006, the re-elected socialist-liberal government announced a comprehensive package of austere tax measures and reform proposals to redress budget imbalances and to pave the way towards the European Economic and Monetary Union (HU0607059I). As a consequence, the cost of living increased significantly. The survey revealed the impact of the government measures on the employees: one out of five employees fears that their job may be affected by these measures. As a result, employees tend to hold on to their jobs for fear of not finding another one. At the same time, employers need to find non-financial means to motivate their employees. Overall, the proportion of company managers who were planning unavoidable redundancies due to the worsening financial situation and stronger competition remained the same as the previous year.

Imbalance between performance and compensation

Neither employees nor senior managers are satisfied with the balance between their salaries and their performance at work. More than one third of employees (35%) in the survey believe that performing better at work would not affect their salaries at all. Although the managers are satisfied with their level of income, 54% of these respondents struggle with reconciling their work and family life, and 24% of them would rather have more free time than a pay increase.

Appreciation of employees essential

The study finds that the distinguishing characteristic of good employers is the way that they treat their employees. Good employers value their workers: 67% of employees working for the five best employers – according to the survey results – felt that they were treated as the most valuable company resource, while only 38% of the total number of employees interviewed share this view. Moreover, the survey showed that 74% of best employers take their workers’ opinion into consideration when making a decision, compared with only 40% of other companies in the Hungarian labour market.

Employees in the information technology (IT) sector seem to be more satisfied and more engaged with their companies than those in other sectors, despite the fact that only 47% of IT employees claimed to be satisfied with their salaries. In fact, IT companies have featured more prominently among the best employers in the past two years. As the basis of IT is human capital, much attention therefore needs to be paid to the employees. In the opinion of employees, the features that make IT companies good employers include: allowing flexible working time, providing good infrastructure, and more appreciation and recognition of staff.

Commentary

Whereas, in 2005, services sector companies dominated among the best employers, in 2006 IT companies ranked consistently at the top. Pharmaceutical companies and companies from the construction and energy sectors also ranked high on the list of best employers in Hungary. Valuing the workforce is a determining factor when choosing the best employers; consequently, a human capital intensive sector such as IT is bound to be among the leading groups in this category.

Orsolya Polyacskó and Katalin Balogh, Institute of Political Science, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

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