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Finding and Keeping Qualified Staff in Russia
Dr. Michael Spaeth, Director for Business Development, RUSSIA CONSULTING
Russia is on track for yet another year of above average GDP performance. But while economic growth promises great prosperity, it also brings a host of new challenges, some of which the country may not be fully prepared to address. One of Russia's biggest problems is a shortage of qualified labour. The lesson we have learned over the last decade is that qualified Russian staff are just as expensive as in the West. Today, the lesson we are learning is that there is simply not enough qualified labour available on the market. At its most basic level, Russia's shortage of qualified labour is more than an imbalance in supply and demand. The scarcity is especially felt by companies in need of technicians, engineers, sales and finance staff. So how can companies in Russia cope with the shortfall? Here are some tips for finding, assessing and keeping employees in the finance sector - our area of excellence.
In the fast-changing Russian labour market, professional networks have gained more and more importance when it comes to finding the right employee. When searching for candidates with special qualifications an innovative approach to advertising vacancies should be considered. At RUSSIA CONSULTING, we make use of networks such as LinkedIn to identify qualified candidates who may not see or respond to traditionally advertised vacancies. In contrast to labour markets in many western countries, personal contact is most important in Russia. Career and professional fairs are another source recruiters should be looking into.
When asking for references, which should be at least spot checked, the recruiter should be aware that alleged qualified referees may be friends or relatives of the job applicant. This should not necessarily be seen as a sign that the applicant lacks integrity though, as this procedure is new to the business culture in Russia and the understanding that a reference should be independent has not yet been fully incorporated into business conduct. Also, due to the fact that people tend
to overestimate their own abilities and qualifications, it is highly important to check essential qualifications. One issue that might need to be thorougly investigated is the validity of references and university degrees. For companies dealing with confidential data it will also be important to ask specialists to run background checks, since the state authorities do not provide companies with information based on their records. Therefore, criminal records and other similar information can only be obtained and supplied by special agencies.
Russian employees are aware of the value they bring to the company and they know how buoyant the demand for qualified employees is. Most can immediately pick up a better-paid job opportunity, should they become frustrated or lose interest in their current position. The best way to address this risk is to have a focused training plan, which takes into account the needs of each key employee. If they are the kind of employee you will want to retain, they will value this more than a little extra money in the short term.
Having left behind the disastrous lack of motivation often associated with the Soviet period, management staff on all levels are very keen to improve their skills and move on. Western companies have a unique advantage here and a lack of required language skills should not necessarily stand in the way of recruiting the right candidate. At RUSSIA CONSULTING, we provide free English classes to small groups of employees, either before or after working hours. The attendance rate is 100%, showing that the employees value the opportunity to invest in their self development even in their leisure time and without financial incentives. They are driven by the desire to progress so as to ensure their career success in a Western environment. This results in a very high level of employee retention.
Dr. Michael Spaeth
Director for Business Development