Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates reported by Eurostat in July 2020 across CEE were the lowest in the Czech Republic at 2%, followed by Poland at 3.2%. Rates of below 5% were also reported in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia. At the same time, salaries have increased, in some years, reaching double digit growth. Candidates have started to become aware of their value on the scarce labor market and have become more selective in terms of their future employers. With numerous possibilities available, even though the salary remains to be the main selection criteria, other factors have started to play an important role. These include the company’s reputation on the market, good working conditions and atmosphere, career progression opportunities and work-life balance.
Skilled, blue-collar candidates remain the biggest challenge in terms of recruitment for the production and logistics industries. After the fall of the vocational school system in most of the countries, the availability of skilled employees is slowly growing thanks to the efforts of employers, who train their personnel, on a regular basis to ensure production continuity. There is also a relentless need for engineering and R&D roles.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had and continues to have an impact on labour markets. Production stoppages have forced companies to reorganize their workforces. Although a reduction of part of the personnel might seem like the quickest solution to cut costs, most of the companies were hesitant to do so, having in mind the effort and funds invested in building up their teams. Instead, reductions in salaries and hours worked, asking employees to use up their outstanding holidays and freezing bonus systems were introduced. Many companies stopped using contingent workforce and utilizing the advantage of flexibility in such contracts. As a result, and rather surprisingly for many, the pool of available candidates didn’t increase as much as one would expect and unemployment rates went up but remained relatively steady. Candidates coming from different industries also hit hard by the pandemic, like the HoReCa sector, were not interested in taking jobs in production or logistics. There were also other industries that had growing needs for personnel during that time, like pharmaceutics, medical equipment and e-commerce.
Currently, as the situation is slowly improving, we are again observing limited availability of the most desired positions on the market. However, companies are rather rebuilding their workforce than increasing headcount, still having in mind the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19. As a result, we predict that the temporary workforce will become an even more popular solution on the market. The pandemic also made further changes to the way employees look at their future employers. In the near future, we expect that job security and a company’s financial stability will close the gap to the salary and benefits in the job selection criteria.
Payments in Belarus
Belarus is characterized by the sustainable development of the logistics and production sectors (both public and private companies), which explains the quite steady remuneration market situation. However, at the beginning of 2020, in response to the fall of the national currency the salary level in the country in general decreased by approximately 18%.
Due to the advantageous territorial location, there is a large number of production as well as logistic companies operating in different areas across the country. Specialists from these sectors remain in high demand. At the same time, the most popular positions are logistics managers and specialists and mid to high level engineers: such as process engineers, mechanical engineers, chief and deputy chief engineers at FMCG and manufacturing facilities.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, there have been some staff reductions, but this is mostly the case of small private businesses. At the same time the pandemic has had little impact on employment in the production and logistics sectors. Therefore, employees from these areas (especially highly qualified) have kept their jobs in most cases. Therefore, we cannot state that more specialists, open to new job opportunities, have appeared on the labor market.
Traditionally, the highest levels of employee availability is observed in the capital (Minsk) and the main administrative centers (specifically Grodno, Brest, Gomel), where large companies are concentrated and the economic situation is more optimistic. The shortage of experts is mainly experienced
We expect any further reductions in staff to cease in both sectors, provided that companies return to normal levels of operations and will continue to hire new staff, albeit at a slower pace.