Human resources in Albania after Covid-19: Three questions with Monika Farka - AIMS International Albania

CCIFA: AIMS International is a leadership advisory and talent acquisition & management partnership with over 90 offices in over 50 countries around the world, providing consultancy to major international clients in Albania, Kosovo and the region. You are active in various industries, by successfully combining the most up to date international methods and practices with a deep knowledge of the market, focusing in services such as: search and selection of executives, managers, and other highly qualified talents, leadership consulting, talent assessment and development services as well as other customized HR solutions. Based on your expertise in HR Consulting, we would like to receive your feedback on the current business situation and the impact of the global lockdown.
1. Given that the Covid-19 pandemic situation has already affected the world and created a suffocating and stressful atmosphere for all people around the world, how do you think all this has affected the human resource staff?

M.Farka: After the abnormal business situation of last months, HR and business leaders around the world are facing several challenges regarding the talent management strategies in the next normal times after COVID. HR professionals face now an unprecedented challenge due to this pandemic, needing to strengthen the culture and values of their organizations. Never has it been more important to communicate consistently and transparently, to be flexible, to show humanity and to engage staff across all platforms.  
One thing is for sure: The Post-COVID world will not be the same. “Not-so-new” concepts like “Digital Mindset and Remote Working are the new normal now.
Digital Readiness is becoming a top priority. Companies now need to keep people with digital mindset, which means a set of skills and competencies to thrive in a digital environment, not necessarily digital technical skills.
Remote working has great benefits, but we have seen productivity surge in many areas in the first weeks, however, after a few months we find that family and domestic issues get in the way.  How to change our mindsets to accommodate a more integrated working style for parents remains among main challenges.
All in all we have to get ready for a work force evolution- there is a skill gap between talent demand and supply especially in 4 critical future skills areas:

Innovation &  Creativity - Adaptability &a Resilience - Collaboration & Communication - Commercial Thinking & Business Acumen.

CCIFA: In times of crisis, staff management is very important. What are your ways to better lead your team during this difficult period?

M.Farka: The COVID-19 pandemic is not only an “HR issue”; instead, top leadership need to be engaged and aligned and become more accessible, showing their human side, showing that they care. All of a sudden, we are acutely aware that, through the rise of online meetings, it is possible for HR to engage frequently with even the most remote locations.
Health, safety and security have become key focus areas for employers, consumers and employees. Honest and transparent communication is important to help alleviate the high levels of anxiety in organizations. HR support now extends from the individual to families of employees and even to communities.
Staff retention and engagement is a huge challenge; How do we retain and engage our staff, especially those who are working from home? How do we onboard new graduates when we cannot host personal workshops and training?
Organizational Effectiveness (OE) has to be redefined.  Some realize that their business continuity plan is changing from the traditional top-down method to a bottom-up methodology, in order to be more agile.

Empowerment of local leaders is therefore becoming crucial.  Values which drive cultures and actions are changing –as safety and health come first.

CCIFA: A message for CCI France-Albanie members?

M.Farka:  A crisis can yield new problems but also new opportunities. And we believe that Albania is leaning more on the “opportunity” side: Emerging BPO services are attracting Albanian talent at all levels from technicians to Country Manager Profiles. Distant destinations like China and India are now less attractive, and European companies are opting for near-shore outsourcing. Italy still remains the No. 1 source of demand for new BPO services, other than contact center services.
Employer Branding – With the increased war for talent, salary increases are expected for some critical positions. Companies should act swiftly in filling critical talent gaps by attracting talent from industries affected by COVID. They also should redesign their talent management strategies to attract and retain talent. The role of company HR as a Strategic Partner becomes crucial.
Increase remote work productivity and staff motivation. The factors that need to be addressed are not only about IT infrastructure and web-based sharing platforms, instead, they are mainly about people management, managing performance, and how to nurture the company culture when people are remote. Companies should invest in building a future proof skills portfolio, including digital mindset and remote working critical competencies and up skill accordingly. Don't think young people are better. A recent study of SHL, worldwide talent assessor, show that youngsters score lower than old employees in some critical competencies required in the next normal.


Last but not least: Be creative! This situation is a world-wide disruptive event with no sure answers or solutions. There cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution pack. Let health and well-being come first, and find creative solutions that work for your business. Eventually it will all go well.


Stay safe and take care of yourselves, your families and your teams.


P.S: More practical information on managing teams remotely can be found in:
https://aims.al/news/Udhezues-per-Menaxhimin-ne-Distance-61.html

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