6 August 2018

That is precisely the lament of many companies across the continent, including those in the Central European region. What is the demand for labour and is there any way out of this difficult situation?

Europe is recovering quite well from the crisis and companies report that they would have contracts but there is no one to work on them. Workers, builders, drivers, couriers, warehouse keepers are all becoming more and more valuable goods. Companies have to raise wages, reduce production, reject contracts and postpone expansion and growth.

Countries like Germany, the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries are slowly approaching full employment, which may not be as optimistic as it may seem. Too low unemployment results in a death spiral of wage and price increases that are difficult to control. Some economists even warn that due to labour shortages, growth and the recovery from the crisis can stop.

Recruitment is now more marketing than human resources: Facebook campaigns, special recruitment sites, career videos and videoconferencing.

 

Some countries, for example, have shifted the retirement age and allow people to work longer, while others look to neighbouring EU Member States. For example, while Denmark does not work with refugees on principle and tries to limit their arrival, Germany has taken the opposite approach: it runs training programs in the hope of closing the gap because of the lack of nurses or technical professions. A significant number of companies solve this problem by opening branches in countries such as Ukraine.

Ukrainians = cheap labour? Not anymore

It is precisely the Ukrainians and people from other non-member countries that could be the salvation. Following an amendment to the Employment Act, employment agencies can also provide businesses with non-EU workers. However, this does not mean that companies will get cheap labour – on the contrary, the cost of recruiting foreigners from the East is higher than that of Czechs, and Ukrainians, for example, are no longer willing to work for low wages. In addition, companies are not able to make savings on salaries, as they are legally obliged to pay the same wage regardless of the nationality of the employee. It is a question of if and when hiring foreigners will be more flexible than it is today and whether this is the right way. For example, the “delivery” of Ukrainians is on a long track: depending on the speed of the work of the Czech consulate, handling all the requisites typically takes half a year from the demand by the Czech client. In addition, agencies can only offer foreigners with Czech green cards.

Just raising salaries is not enough

Back to our field of halls, warehouses and behind the steering wheels of delivery trucks. As Miloš Malaník of DPD told News.cz, “we’re trying to reach out to couriers and provide various benefits in the form of shortened and flexible working hours or part-time work, so that they have more time for their personal lives. As part of our innovations we have introduced a special social network for couriers so they can stay in touch and share their experiences and information.”

Catchword of the day: Creativity

And how do you actually get quality staff? Just advertising today is not enough. Creative spirit must be manifested. It can be said that recruitment is now more marketing than human resources: Facebook campaigns, special recruitment sites, career videos and videoconferencing. The goal is to reach people who are open to new work, but are not actively looking for new positions.

DHL Supply Chain came up with an interesting alternative to address staff shortages. It has been involved in a prisoner employment project, which fits into the long-term concept of the Ministry of Justice. The company employed 10 prisoners from Cheb last November and December. As everything went smoothly, their number grew to several dozens over the next few months, with the company also establishing cooperation with the prison in Břeclav. The project involves mainly convicts with lower sentences, most often those who do not pay child support and only present a minimal security risk. In addition, they work in restricted areas and regular employees have clear instructions on how to behave. The prisoners work mainly in positions that are unable to be filled by the labour market – repacking goods, sorting waste, preparing packaging and scanning.

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