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Cegeka Webinar- Cum recrutezi IT-isti exclusiv online?

In aceasta perioada dificila prin care am trecut, majoritatea angajatorilor cu activitati in zona de software si-au mutat procesele de recrutare in online. Desi relaxarea restrictiilor este in desfasurare, o buna parte din developeri vor fi intervievati si vor lucra de acasa (trend-ul fiind setat deja de companii ca Facebook, Google sau Twitter).

Multe companii intampina dificultati in a-si ajusta procesele si a gasi candidati potriviti in aceasta perioada. Dorim sa impartasim cu voi ce consideram a fi best practices, si sa avem un dialog constructiv, care sa ne fie de folos tuturor in procesele noastre de recrutare.


Mihai Popa: Hello and welcome to this edition of Cegeka webinar! Thank you very much for your participation. I am Mihai Popa, from Cegeka Romania and I will be your host today. Our topic today is the exclusively remote recruitment of developers as well as other categories of IT staff. If in the software development area working remotely was already commonplace for a great deal of companies, with one flexible day a week, well, when it came to recruitment, the physical  presence of the candidates was necessary for interviews in most cases. During the past few months, things have changed, and most recruitment processes moved online. Now, with the relaxation of the restrictions, although this is happening, a great deal of developers will be interviewed and will continue to work from home. This is a trend set by companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter. For example, Facebook adopted a quite controversial policy for remote working, with different payment depending on the location from which the developers work, Google decided to allow working from home until 2021, and the examples go on. And this is why today we will have a discussion about how we adjust the sourcing and interviewing processes, as well as adapting to the culture of the organization when it comes to the remote candidates. Of course, the list can be adjusted with other topics of interest as they arise in our discussion. Please observe in the right-hand corner of the screen the chat section, where you can ask questions during the webinar and we will try to answer them as they appear. Anytime you want to ask something, you are welcome to do it. Now let us meet the guests on our panel today, in alphabetical order, I think I will start with Ioana. Go ahead, please.

Ioana Maxim: Hi everyone! My name is Ioana Maxim, I am a Senior People Partner at Bolt Romania and my role is mainly that of a generalist in the HR area, I deal a bit with recruitment as well, and the support I offer is for Bolt in the Central and Eastern European area.

Mihai Popa: Thank you very much!

Teodora Lungu: Should I continue?

Mihai Popa: Of course!

Teodora Lungu: My name is Teodora Lungu and I am an IT recruiter for ING Bank. As the name says, I handle recruiting from ING Bank Romania, but only for IT.

Mihaela Vasile: I will continue, thank you Victor, I appreciate it. I am Mihaela Vasile and I want to say welcome everyone and thank you for the interest you have shown us today and I hope you will interact with us as much as possible. I have been working for Cegeka for two years as an HR BP, basically I have been handling a bit of recruiting and as of now I am on the area of HR BP.

Victor Felea: I’m the only one left. Firstly, I am glad that we have the occasion to discuss these topics. A little about myself, I handle recruitment for Cegeka, especially the professional services division. I basically coordinate the team that handles the recruitment for our division. That’s about it.

Mihai Popa: Ok, thank you very much and welcome! To start with a first question, I will try to avoid the standard question that obviously I would have most likely asked, namely “What changed?”, which I will try to avoid as much as I can, and I will start by asking what methods do you use now to remain visible for the candidates and what is the strategy for identifying and reaching out to candidates now? Anyone who wants to pick it, please do!

Victor Felea: I think I can begin if Teodora doesn’t want to, as we are involved in recruiting.

Teodora Lungu: You start and I will continue later.

Victor Felea: Ok. Now, as strategies go, I think that we should take into account the timeframe. We have the month of March which usually means a good month for recruitment, and for us this month has been the hardest. It was probably the first shock we had with all this movement to online and then, on one hand we are talking about a reduced number of applicants and on the other hand, the strategies of active sourcing did not work. What we tried to do and I think it helped us a lot, it was to try to underline the fact that Cegeka is active and looking during this period and we took by storm all the areas, we tried to use LinkedIn with different ads to make our jobs visible. On the other hand we tried to promote anyway we could the openings we have and as a strategy, so to speak, after we got used to it a little and different applicants started to appear and after the initial shock passed, our strategy right now comes on one hand from the candidates on the market who started to send more and more applications due to lost projects during this time, as well as, on the other hand, people who normally want to change their job for new opportunities. Another aspect that I have found to be important, even for the organization, was to go with a somehow active advertising, and sometimes even weekly or daily internally. Because, automatically, during these times, our colleagues who we chose very well over the years can recommend friends who maybe have been left without projects or, I don’t know, acquaintances that are best suited for our needs. Somehow the strategy went as an active advertisement both internally and externally.

 Mihai Popa: OK, thank you! Teodora, did you want to add something?

 Teodora Lungu: No, I just wanted to continue...

 Mihai Popa: Please!

 Teodora Lungu: Yes, as Victor was saying, we continued to be active on the careers page on our website, on LinkedIn, we advertised offers, we led campaigns on LinkedIn to target the candidates that suited our jobs. The advertising of our jobs internally was something that was being done before, I mean it is something that we are doing constantly, but during this time our colleagues, who I like to call  ING Bank ambassadors, helped us indeed, because, beside their constant recommendations, there were people who applied for jobs about which they knew from our internal colleagues. And this somehow makes us glad, the fact that people stayed motivated during this time and pleased with our organization, so much so that they recommended other people, and this makes us very happy. Of course, we are objective in the recruitment process, and we offer equal chances, regardless of whether someone applies without knowing anyone from ING or comes recommended, this is not a problem. But there was a very good pipeline, the fact that we have colleagues who advertise our job openings. Besides, we tried to continue to participate at online events, and even in March it happened spontaneously, there was a webinar on data management who had been normally organized physically but we had to adapt quickly to the situation and it moved online from one day to the next. We are a main partner to DevTalks at the main event for IT, which will now take place online next week, 10-12th of July. There will be a booth, a virtual ING booth, where the attendants can ask questions to both our technical colleagues who will be active there as well as to me and my colleagues from recruitment. So, mainly we did not change our strategy, on the contrary we tried to continue doing the things we were doing before, even though we had to adapt, and some events had to take place remotely.

 Mihai Popa: Ok, now to balance two opposing forces, one of them being a possible reluctance regarding change coming from some candidates who feel that as long as they have a safe job they have solid ground under their feet and the other force that says that right now many companies face financial difficulties, let’s say software companies that specialize in travel or other very affected areas and this is generating a greater influx of candidates, if we were to compare the two,  what would you say that, compared to before, is more prominent: reluctant candidates, or, on the contrary, candidates who apply?

 Teodora Lungu: In my opinion, if I may be allowed to go first, I think they are offsetting each other, meaning that the number of applicants did not fall, nor did it rise, it is just that the people who normally wanted a change for objective reasons pertaining to, I don’t know, dissatisfactions with the current job, are now thinking twice whether to make the change, and they are more reluctant to apply or even to see through a recruitment process, because this also happened to us during this period. On the other hand, the numbers of applicants does not necessarily change as long as there are companies that were affected, projects that ended and then, personally speaking, I did not feel that the number changed.

 Mihai Popa: Ok. Thank you! Victor?

 Victor Felea: I completely agree because somehow I saw how they offset each other, although I need to go on gradually, from the end of March to beginning of April, indeed there was reluctance, so to speak, and then there were not even direct problems for some companies and the number was pretty low, but right now I see a normal number of applicants for this period, maybe even above, but let’s say normal from my point of view. I too believe that on one hand there is the kind of candidate that is forced to make a change, but on the other hand, even if, at first, some candidates stepped down and preferred stability and safety, there are still candidates that understand the field, understand that it is an ever-evolving field and then they do not bind themselves to this safety because lately, step by step, things begun to return to normal, there are a lot of opportunities on the market and this lead to a rise in the number of applicants who do not necessarily have a problem with safety. And then I think that, and this is why I said there is a trend a little raised about this, because with a good volume of information and with a well-developed process for sure we can recruit pretty much every kind of candidate.

Mihai Popa: Thank you, I see. Please go on.

Mihaela Vasile: Since we are talking about this area of trends and it is as I have noticed indeed from LinkedIn, just by seeing the posts made by my colleagues in recruitment, what I have noticed lately is that there are more and more recruiters who promote various candidates on the market, because here you were talking also about the companies who had financial issues in this regard, and then those candidates come either to the HR people whom they know, or to a certain recruiter who wishes to promote them on LinkedIn and, during this period,  from what I saw, there were a lot of recruiters  who simply placed an ad or a position on LinkedIn, “ok I have this candidate that is good at this and that, if you have jobs please tell me and I will send you their info.” I mean, it seemed to me that now more than ever the HR community was more open and proactive, which makes me very glad, this considering the fact that they too, in the companies where they work did not have as much opportunities or openings and they shared them on the market. On the other hand we had candidates who just wrote to us on LinkedIn saying ”ok, I am open to new opportunities”, or, ”something happened and I want to change my project.” And there were small changes that we made in the online, so it is doable. And one more trend we have seen, because Teodora brought up earlier a pipeline we have, I think that the most positive aspect, let’s say following this situation, was that the pipeline for the recruiters right now extended already towards candidates who are not in the cities in which the companies have their headquarters. And then, we, from divisions of professional services included, hired colleagues who are even out of country. We had someone we recruited from Italy. Somehow the borders are not the same, which I think might make the recruiters happy further on. And since you brought up Facebook, Mihai, indeed the trend, if somehow we are going to remain under this state of emergency or, if the things will continue to go towards this remote area, for sure, I think that things will be the same from the point of view of recruitment, namely we will not be so restricted, border-wise speaking, namely of the companies who recruit candidates only from the area of their headquarters. Then the market will be much more extended, and we will probably have more success in approaching truly interested candidate. I don’t know, maybe there are candidates who would like to work from Cegeka out of Cluj or any other client, and then of course this would be easily done now by disregarding these physical borders of the employee who has to come in the office.

 Ioana Maxim: This is what I wanted to say too regarding the borders, if I may. We noticed the same thing, the fact that even before but also after this pandemic we have been a company opened to working flexibly, to working from anywhere, we have never had restriction regarding the time spent at home vs. at the office. We have a high level of diversity in the company and there are many people who work and have been recruited to work for our tech openings  from outside the borders of the country in which we recruited, especially since we are a global company, having many headquarters and then we afforded to be very liberal regarding this and I truly see a trend and a tendency of people, but not only in the tech area, but also of other candidates, to ask and be interested in opportunities of working remotely and I think this will bring an additional number of candidates in the pipelines from now on and how liberal or open is the employer in thinking a little bit more expansively and creatively.

 Mihaela Vasile: Right, right. Go ahead Victor.

 Victor Felea: Sorry. Go on, I’ll follow up later.

 Mihaela Vasile: I was thinking in this regard, that on one hand this whole story can help with retention, because I would not want to call it by its name, to call it COVID, but this whole period of time somehow helped us from the point of view of retention as well as regarding the borders. Not having these borders I think that maybe if there were, I don’t know, some of the employees who wanted at some point to move in another country or city as they said, and you did not heave a headquarter there, and most of the time the whole discussion of course ended with a resignation. At least in this case, I think it would be much easier to take your laptop, and go live in another city if you wish, or simply work from there, so I think that from this point of view, besides recruitment it also helps with retention.

 Ioana Maxim: Absolutely, yes.

 Mihai Popa: Okay, Thank you. Please Victor.

 Victor Felea: I just wanted to make a small addition. I have noticed another aspect and I think it would be useful for everybody, since we were speaking earlier about the financial problems that some companies face. I just wanted to bring to attention the fact that in many situations we noticed a lack of communication or small problems in internal communication, because that the basic need of safety was not covered, and it was not transmitted from a superior level and then the candidates engaged much quicker in the recruitment process even if it was not a real problem, only a perceived one on their part. And then I had a few targeted discussions with the candidates who were saying that there was no problem but at the same time I did not receive any information from the company, I did not receive, let’s say, the peace of mind I needed and the uncertainty, which can be just based on a lack of communication, leads to employees getting actively engaged in the recruitment process and to look for a safer medium which might be identical but much better internally communicated. This is all I wanted to add.

 Mihai Popa: Very interesting, thank you very much! All right, meanwhile, I would like to remind those who are following us that on the right there is the chat section where they can ask questions if they have any. Now, let us speak about the remote interview and what it is like, how do you manage to accomplish the level of communication and rapport  with the candidate, seeing that they are not in front of you. And how do you manage at the same time to convey trust and obtain from them an image as accurate as possible regarding the level of trust they can have and here I refer a lot to the, let’s say, some candidates who do not want to switch on their video cameras or some candidates who are in the possession of a wonderful poker face from which you cannot distinguish anything. That’s about it for the next question.


Ioana Maxim: If I may begin, we had these things even before, we practically recruited a lot online, especially  in the tech area, all our interviews, at least the first ones, happen exclusively online, and the fact that we have done this before and after this moment, allowed us over time to manage to bring the art of online interview to a very good state, where we can distinguish and build that rapport with the candidate. Of course there are little exceptions, every personality is different, but in general terms, not only it is very good for us, because we do it very humanly and informally, I would say, but the majority of the candidates prefer it and they prefer it because they don’t have to waste time in traffic or going from one place to another to be interviewed by you, so they are more flexible when you set up an interview and the only, let’s say problem, is that when you are in the final stage and you want to see face to face where the headquarters is going to be and the city in which you are going to move for that job, because there were people who relocated with our IT jobs, but even so there was never a problem. For us, in fact, it was very important how be build that human relationship, warm and open, informal from the beginning with those who were in front of us through zoom or google hangouts or other tools like these.

 Mihai Popa: Thank you!

 Mihaela Vasile: I was thinking that, Ioana, since you were talking indeed about this remote recruitment, because you did it before and most likely it will be the trend moving forward for each employer to specialize or to make out of this structure of the interviews they had face to face, to bring them somehow in the online. But what I think I find it fairly hard to do is to bring it online, because indeed regarding the technical part we are used to recruit even like this, indeed in a smaller percentage than now, let’s say. But I think it will be a struggle further on when we will want to recruit candidates for, I don’t know, top management or team leaders and so on, because from this perspective if when we recruit a technical person, for example, the focus, besides the soft skills of communication, which are important, but most of the time we want the person to take a technical test and see what are their skills and level regarding a certain technology are. From the point of view of recruiting a team leader or a management position the soft skills area will always take precedence, and this is something that will probably be hard to capture in an online interview.

 Mihai Popa: Ok, Teodora, did you have anything else to add?

 Teodora Lungu: Yes. I only wanted to say that, as Ioana was also saying, we too have had interviews that, at least in the first stage were carried out on Skype but there was always that face to face interview- that final discussion where you saw the person, you read them, you saw them how they were as a person and at first I honestly thought it was very difficult. The first interviews were much tiring than usual because you were trying to understand a person by seeing them on a video camera. They were not beside you, you did not see very well their gestures, but then I completely changed my mind after the first interviews and after I hired the first person, who had already started and who is very content within the team, and I realized that somehow this context in which we need to be more flexible and the fact that maybe they turn on their camera or they do not want to, or the fact they have connectivity problems and they  have to try many times, these things included say something about the people we have contact with, how they relate to situations and I felt their relaxation, meaning we created a much tighter communication and all the discussions over the phone that we had were more relaxed because we did not call when their boss or colleague was near them and they did not need to look for a conference room to have that phone discussion and personally I think that you can notice even the soft things, even for management positions, that is we have ongoing processes that are almost completed and we saw the people fully remote. But I think that the entire interaction with the candidate is important, from the first phone call until you get to make the offer,  and the context helped them to be more relaxed and to see how they really are as persons.

  Mihai Popa: Interesting, thank you. And now, naturally, the next question is that if along with the remote recruitment we deal with recruitment processes or interviews that are longer or shorter? Are they more concise or is there a need for more questions, more grilling and so on?

 Victor Felea: Here I can bring our clients’ perspective because I can compare more processes at the same time. I could not say it is a longer process. In most process we notice a first part of screening and here I mean on one hand the HR discussion and on the other we notice a technical test, which in many cases could be found from the very beginning of the process, after which we have the online technical discussion, and as far as I have seen, this flow of recruitment is followed in most cases.  I could not say whether it is a longer process, I mean I haven’t noticed any differences from this point of view. On the contrary, I could say that it is shorter because there is a greater availability. If before we had to schedule an interview and sometimes we could not find a solution for 3 or 4 days, now we could schedule the interview and the test from one day to the next and go through the recruitment process much quicker.

 Mihaela Vasile: Right, because their availability is different.

 Teodora Lungu: Yes, I also did not feel that interviews take longer or the opposite. There are all kinds of situations and there are candidates that are more talkative and maybe the interview takes a little longer than we expected, but this also happens with face to face interviews. I did not feel that but what I did feel, and with the key words for this period I think, are the adaptability and the flexibility, because due to the lack of necessity for our candidates to come to the office for the discussions we have during a process, it is then more simple to divide the interviews if someone cannot take part to the discussion and the technical test at the same time, it is much more simple: we have that discussion today, tomorrow we’ll take the test, and it is much simpler to fit it in their schedule. But other than that I don’t feel like things have changed that much.

 Mihai Popa: Thanks. And because Victor you touched upon the idea of the technical part of the interview, I was meaning to ask how you deal with it now and if there are new tools compared to what you were using before when there was probably a direct, face to face discussion with a technical leader. Are there now different tools or methodologies in the technical assessment?

 Victor Felea: From my point of view, as I was saying earlier, we noticed the same side of screening that was before and on the majority of the platforms we use or that the companies use and that remained practically the same. What we also noticed is that maybe in certain situation in order to have a meaningful discussion, there may be a small project that certain clients prefer to send beforehand so that the persons who will be interviewed can have a basis upon which to start the discussion. Maybe before they could do it face to face or they could help themselves with a sheet of paper during the discussion, now there may be a small start or need for a small exercise to begin at home from which the technical discussion can start and then I could say that maybe this is the difference. Although there was a tendency in this direction even before, I see now that it is becoming more prominent.

 Mihai Popa: But did you ever meet people who looked for their answers on Google or look for parts of the code on StackOverflow?

 Victor Felea: I think that only they know that, us, not so much.

 Teodora Lungu: I did.

 Victor Felea: I have a joke here that, if somebody manages to solve at the same time as the interview the test with answers from Google then, from my point of view, they deserve to be hired.

 Teodora Lungu: Right.

Mihai Popa: OK, now we have a question from somebody in the audience. “Hi everybody. I have a question. What kind of remote-wise initiative do you have at company level once the recruitment moved online? What processes have been made more efficient?

 Mihaela Vasile: Ok, let me start. Processes that have been made more efficient, I would start here because we did have on the agenda today to speak about onboarding. I will say that the onboarding was first, because it follows somehow naturally the recruitment, the inclusion of the new employee in the organization. And then somehow, we transferred the induction and the entire onboarding of the new employee in the online. Probably more and more processes that we undertake at organization level will be transposed in the online, and here I refer to everything that has to do with the engagement side, only that here we will surely have to have a lot of creativity and flexibility. And ff course, to follow trends and to see exactly what the regulations will be from now on, if indeed it will be allowed for a greater number of employees to come to work in the same space.  I know you mentioned Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook and he said that a truly nice method of engagement for his employees will be exactly that, coming to work once a month or every two months with their respective teams to socialize and get to know each other and of course for the newcomers to see the rest of the team and have that bonding time, if you will. The induction was the first process we put on paper when we started the remote recruiting, and the transition of this process was fairly smooth, if I can say so, because there were situations in the past when we had colleagues who could not take part that day to that meeting, let’s say physically, and somehow we transposed that particular presentation online. Now we try to do them after that first step when we attempted it; we saw that it works better if the people can also see us and then we have to have some very good cameras so that people can see us and know us. In the induction process we brought along Culture BP the division manager who takes part to this induction, as well as finance and security, which is all done online. As for the onboarding, we can surely touch on the subject even later if you do not wish to right now, but the onboarding is indeed a very big process that needs to be transposed online and I think that in time we will have more clarifications in this area, because the onboarding can extend from 3 to 6 months in some companies and of course in this current situation there could be companies that, even if they had shorter periods of onboarding, maybe they will extend it now due to the current circumstances. But there are a lot of things to say here, including areas of processes that, as I was saying, include the engagement. But I will let Ioana tell you and we will probably touch on the onboarding during the discussion and we will discuss it then. But from my perspective, and ours, these were the first processes that we put online.

 Ioana Maxim: Yes, as you said, Mihaela, in our company many things were already happening online even before because, again, being a company that runs globally and having the central headquarters in Estonia, then the great majority of the things that are happening centrally or are centralized were always delivered online. Only now we took the onboarding, in this case being one of the processes that suffered little changes, to the next level of creativity, of informality. We are a company where we like very much to party. We like it fun too, not just work.

Mihaela Vasile: We are in the same zone, so I understand you perfectly.

Ioana Maxim: Yes and then we thought to use this experience and look to the bright side and transform the onboarding from before in, maybe someday, in one where different people from management attended and they were presenting their company or its vision or the culture and they were talking to the new employees to extend them to three days instead of one as we were doing before, and to integrate many on-line games, quizzes, all kinds of fun stuff, all remote, which came to fruition and we received many appreciations from the new colleagues with a lot of positive feedback,  taking into account that we can’t do things face to face, but what you did here was the next best thing. Also, on the engagement, I would say that we zeroed on the need of the organization and of the management, mainly, to prepare very well for what it means to manage or to lead a team remotely, because it is completely different from leading a team that you see most of the time in the office and that maybe takes one or two days of remote work. And we worked a lot on this and on seeing what other companies that have been working remotely for longer are doing, maybe before the pandemic, what we can take from them and give to those working internally to adapt to the new period of time, so even this process of professional growth and leadership or management development has been a process made much more online and much more through more frequent meetings between top management and client management and so on.

 Mihaela Vasile: Right, I think that this is the moment for companies, and I think Victor said earlier that there are or he had candidates that changed their work place due to the uncertainty of the situation of a company, that maybe did not communicate to their employees different aspects and I thinks this is a good moment for companies to show how well or how structured they really are and how well they can communicate with their employees even now, in the online. Because I found very cute was that at the moment we had our first full remote hiring, it was with everything-including the equipment and the signing the papers remotely, because now we stood and adapted, as you well said that these are the words of the moment. We adapted too and then all the papers, including the CIM, addendums, SSM and so on, everything is signed online, as well as our colleagues’ equipment, laptops and so on, which were sent at their home addresses. And then somehow, I think this was the degree of novelty we went through, because up until now we said ok, we make induction or we keep certain parts of this fairly long process remote, but we were used to new colleagues coming in to retrieve their equipment or see them upon signing of the contract and so on. But now this experience of full remote is indeed pretty interesting and makes us think to come up with ideas and new perspectives so that we can carry on this entire flow truly without any problems because from the signing of the documents to the hardware, these are indeed the only things but then there is their integration in a team and there it is very difficult. And of course we have to present also the tools and here, of course as I was saying earlier, I think that every company or employer needs to be very specific and very transparent from this point of view and to know how to communicate very well all the things, including the communication tools, because there are colleagues that beside Skype they also have Slack and many more channels, WhatsApp and so on, through which they can communicate with their employees. I find it a very interesting idea that needs to be addressed in the sense that, ok, these are the communication channels you can use to discuss with the team, these are the channels from which you are going to receive ads or official notifications from the employer, and all these things put in a very concrete way for the newcomer in the company, I think  they will help them to have that feeling of safety and that we know what we are doing so that they  indeed can  better integrate in the team and of course to have results, because it is also about this. As you were saying about their development, because everybody needs to feel that when you come in on a new job you wish to do a lot of things and you need feedback and I consider these are the moments in which, if we are well structured and we know how to communicate with them, we will have only to gain. So yes, from this point of view there are many things that need to be done from offline into the online now and there needs to be a lot of creativity.

 Victor Felea: I would make a small addition, based on the first part of the recruitment process, starting from sourcing. What we have tried here, and I believe helped us have very good results in this time was firstly coming up with a greater volume of information, because usually the things did not change so much. Ok, the discussion we have face to face and the technical test and so on moved easily enough online. There are small differences, but everyone adapted in their own way, however, what I found very important and stressed every time from the first discussion, I wanted to ensure an optimal experience and it meant a greater volume of information so that the future candidate and why not, employee, knows every process thoroughly, how we adapted, how we moved everything online, how the signing takes place, the medical visit. These are aspects that were unsure and then we toiled as much as possible to be able to offer from the beginning an overview as clear as possible of the recruitment process and these things have been appreciated and I personally tried to be as much available as I could for any question so that I could assure that person of a safer recruitment process and there would be no uncertainty from this point of view.

 Mihai Popa: Ok, thank you.

 Mihaela Vasile: I only wanted to add that on the same vein, on the professional services branch, we have an HR representative assigned to any newcomer in the company, which did help before and especially during this period it helps us because being new in the company, of course the employee has many questions, even though they go through that induction and so on, for sure the volume of information is big enough. So, as Victor was saying, we have our information much better structured now and the fact that they have a contact person they know they can go to anytime for any kind of question gives them the peace of mind and the comfort, let’s say, not to worry very much that they do not know where to go or where to look for the information that they need. So this is another aspect that helps the newcomer to integrate, since we were speaking about onboarding and in addition to what Victor said.

 Mihai Popa: Thanks a lot, and this really meets halfway Dragos’s question, namely, “How do employees integrate now that they are working partially or fully from home? How would you say that they are going to fit in even after this period?” So if there is anything to add here, please go ahead.

 Teodora Lungu: I could add something here. We depend a lot on direct and constant communication with the people who join our teams. The management team does a very good job in this direction and moreover, somehow regarding the onboarding process, we are helped a lot by the team mates because every newcomer has assigned to them a buddy who is beside them every step of the onboarding process. This happened even before, only now the buddy’s load is bigger because they have to use screen share every step of the way, on skype, their input is greater remotely than in the office. Moreover, every recruiter has constant discussions with the people they hired and not only, also with those who are involved in the onboarding process or with those who recently changed roles; we are trying permanently to get the feel of things and gather all relevant data so that we can use the information we obtain. So, to briefly answer the question, through communication. Through constant communication, we make sure that the people are ok and we even asked for feedback on the onboarding process, because it is understandable that this period will go on, there are going to be many situations in which people will start fully remote a new job and we are constantly trying to upgrade the process, even to the point that although every employee has their own laptop and phone,  during this period we have sent more than 500 desktops to their homes for those who want an additional screen so that they can do their job in the same comfort as at the office, along with chairs, which were sent to the colleagues who asked to receive one at home. We are constantly taking measures so that everybody feels good and can do their job at least as happily as in the office.

 Mihai Popa: Thank you!

 Mihaela Vasile: I could add something here, since Teodora mentioned the chairs and so on, these benefits the employee had in the office. Cegeka too has such a program and I think there are going to be more and more companies who will do similar things in this direction to ensure the employee’s comfort, including working from home. I know there are a lot of companies who ask themselves such questions and are thinking about a lot of benefits in this area. To add how we do the integration on our professional services division, along with what I said earlier which still stands true, indeed at the moment I think we have a little much more discussions with the new employee. We have people managers right now who help with the integration of the newcomers in their teams; they take them in their personal WhatsApp groups, where all the team members discuss various things. We have this structure were people managers are also the ones that take care somehow, that are a kind of buddy for the newcomers and help them with information about us, about the project and so on. And let’s not forget about one on one discussions, because especially during the onboarding, this was a thing we did even before, but now more than ever I find that these discussions need to be more relevant, to have some topics to touch upon in those meetings, to answer clearly and succinctly to their questions. This means that during the first month there is one on one meeting with the HR representative of the person and with the people manager, during the second month the people manager has a one on one discussion with the new  employee and during the third month HR takes over again this one on one structure to put some more information on the wall, because we have and we desire a structured discussion at the end of those 3 months from which we could receive a feedback regarding their experience with onboarding and of course if there are any other things or aspects that we could solve that will answer to their needs. And then, I would say that somehow the key word for onboarding is communication and the offering of the information and the tools, of course, that a new employee needs. Maybe if they want to read something more detailed, I guess that every company has a portal or an app where they can go and read and many other things, and this would be the area I think of and of course I want to do it progressively better.

 Mihai Popa: Thanks a lot, we have a few questions left and we will try to answer them all. Unfortunately, I cannot see here who asked “How did benefits change in these new conditions?”

 Ioana Maxim: We have indeed seen more openness and more interest from candidates toward more flexible benefits and towards this area of flexibility when it comes to the work place, meaning that you can work at home or somewhere else or you have to come to the office. This is why we decided to allow all our employees, as well as the future ones, to work from anywhere they want until the end of the year with the view to adapting as months go by and we see what the trends and people’s preferences will be once we exited this restricted area of the pandemic and once they have the possibility to choose from where to work, if indeed they will want to retain this level of flexibility. My opinion is that they will want it, not that the classic office will completely disappear but it will be redesigned as a recreational area, to meet the team, to socialize and perhaps for some to remain the main work point, but I did not see any other change, a tendency to change very much the benefits. At the moment, I think that what interests the employees the most are the same things as before, namely what kind of employer you are, what are your values, what kind of team you are going to have, what kind of projects, what it will be like working inside the company from the point of view of professional growth it can offer. I think these things are never going to change. Now, of course if you plus a bit on this area of flexible benefits, of course they cannot but bring more benefits, but I did not see a big change or a great interest for completely new benefits coming from employees and at the moment we are still monitoring the situation to see exactly what is going to happen during the next months before we completely change our benefits strategy.

 Mihai Popa: Thanks a lot! Ok, and now a follow-up question from Dragos: ”A lot of companies offer, among other benefits, career path counseling. How do you help your employees in this regard?”

 Mihaela Vasile: Ioana?

Teodora Lungu: Me or Ioana?

 Mihaela Vasile: Or Teodora, please, if you have something to add.

 Teodora Lungu: Yes, I wanted to say that it is a process that happens by default between the recruiter from ING Bank and the people they hire, because you know how it is, the first person you have contact with when you come into a new company is the same person you go to when you have question or situations you need to clarify. And I can say that we do that too, not necessarily organized and formally, but by having constant conversations with our colleagues who wish, or not, to apply for a management position or to change their  job, the job as in the role, not to leave ING Bank, because for us it is very important to keep the people with us and ING Bank really is a place where you can grow and find opportunities if at some point you decide to go on another path or on a path adjacent to the one you started on. Shortly, to answer the question, yes, we also do this, we even have a team of HR Business Partner, for each area and line of business. My colleagues on this area help the people in the field they handle with all kinds of decisions, discussions, help them choose whatever is best for them and for the people on their teams.

 Mihai Popa: Ok, thanks a lot! We only have time for one more question. The hour at which we promised we would stop is near, if not even gone. This question would be: “Good afternoon, do you have internship programs?  How do you conduct them now remotely?”, asks Cristina.

 Mihaela Vasile: At the moment we do not have such a program, we had indeed something decided, and academy on Java which we are going to postpone for next year so, unfortunately I cannot answer directly to this question, I do not know if you girls have such programs.

 Ioana Maxim: No, at the moment we do not have such programs, they were never on the table even before, but it is possible that maybe next year we will be going this route, so I also cannot answer this question.

 Teodora Lungu: There are some discussions in our company about how we could carry out such projects online, but what I can say for sure that a program is and will be carried out remotely, a program of internship for the students from electronics and telecommunications from Politehnica Bucuresti. It is carried out strictly with that faculty, as we have an agreement with them. It was carried out last year also and it was a successful program, seeing that out of 12 people 4 are in our teams now, they stayed in our teams although it was not precisely the scope of the program. We will carry out this program, that we named Telepractice, this year too. We will use the same idea, they will have colleagues to help them, the managers will conduct trainings for them, and we will help them learn something even remotely.

Mihai Popa: Ok, good. I want to thank my guests  and all of you because you chose to spend more than an hour with us, I hope it was useful, because for us it was definitely interesting and we will be waiting for you at the next webinar editions regarding HR topics and software development. Expect to hear from us. Thank you very much and have a great day! Bye!