Lidija Latinović, HR Director at Carlsberg Srbija

Key to Success – Constantly Caring About Employees

The foundation of the HR management strategy in Carlsberg relies on continuously caring about the company's employees, both as a group and as individuals, ensuring that the staff is happy with their work environment, in which their private lives and work compliment each other

If the workers are happy and satisfied and feel loyal to the company, then they will be successful and prosperous. Carlsberg Srbija appreciates both individual and team contributions, while the company’s corporate culture facilitates a balanced life for its employees.

With 40,000 employees in 40 countries around the world, Carlsberg Group has one of the most advanced HR management systems. What are the key features of this system that is applied globally?

Carlsberg Group, under which Carlsberg Srbija operates, is committed to the constant development and implementation of responsible business practices through various projects, as well as through on-going and strategic investments in the company’s internal policies and business procedures.

In terms of HR management, I think that the shortest answer to that is “GloCal” or the global approach in the local context. What does this mean? Every system, regardless of how good it is, cannot be successful without having a clear purpose and application adapted to individual markets.

Carlsberg Srbija nurtures the GloCal approach and gives free rein to local management to adapt certain business processes, including HR, to local needs. Additionally, Carlsberg Group pays great attention to recruiting new and caring for existing employees by encouraging their dedication, adaptability and motivation.

The Danish management system is considered to be one of the most efficient in the world. What are the main prerequisites that Carlsberg’s employees need to fulfil?

We at Carlsberg have a combined strategy to persistently and continuously push the envelope in our industry, to expand and improve our product portfolio, to be constantly focused on our clients, buyers and consumers and to give a good example to other companies in terms of innovation and social responsibility. Also, it is important to mention that we are recognized as a company with a family-like work atmosphere where people reflect the company’s attitude, ambitions and culture.

All in all, our employees are what matter most to us, because they are the pillars of support of successful operations in any company. Apart from the individual workers, the employee structure is also important and we have a simple hierarchy with decentralized decision-making.

We are very focused on each individual employee, and we encourage him or her to make team decisions within their scope of activity. Furthermore, we particularly encourage middle management, which serves as a strong link between individual employees and top management on our corporate ladder.

Our employees are our strength and our competitive edge. Although we have a very motivated workforce, we still think that we have to be constantly receptive to constructive criticism from our employees and to continue improving ourselves

If we were, to sum up, Carlsberg’s HR policy in one sentence, it would be a “happy worker – happy client”. What is this, deceptively simple but difficult to apply policy, based on?

Our constant care for our employees is the key to success. A satisfied employee is a prerequisite for successful operations and prosperity. Every one of us wants our work to be properly valued, to be given the opportunity to make decisions, and to act on them. Based on that, Carlsberg Srbija appreciates both individual contributions and team results.

It is important to underline that Carlsberg Srbija’s corporate culture allows every worker to find a balance in life. Although we work diligently, we do care about our employees being satisfied with their work environment, where private and work lives go hand in hand.

As an HR director, I try to foster this principle and spirit and to be mindful of the fact that the hours spent working count less than the quality of work. Sometimes, providing that our job allows it, we work from home, and we do not stockpile our annual leave days but use them to the fullest with our families and friends.

Carlsberg pays a great deal of attention to the social status of its employees, the work environment and good interpersonal relations. How do you manage to keep these important premises at such a high level?

I like to say that we are one big family and that you can approach a family either as an entity or individual, i.e. each one of its members. Our employees are our strength and our competitive edge. Although we have a very motivated workforce, we still think that we have to be constantly receptive to constructive criticism from our employees and to continue improving ourselves.

Carlsberg Srbija pays a great deal of attention to training its employees. Every worker has his or her annual development plan. However, our approach to training is not simply sending our employees to attend a workshop.

In our company, we have a culture of sharing and exchanging know-how regardless of position, sector or country in which our branch is located. We try to break down functional barriers and work as a team to benefit our company and its employees, even if certain decisions that we make are not the most fitting to a certain function. If I had to sum up what Carlsberg Group is in a few words, I would say that we are one big family, that we have an individual approach to our employees, that we are giving and that we willingly accept responsibility.

Carlsberg Srbija operates in accordance with the joint mission and vision of Carlsberg Group. I believe that the majority of international companies have a similar approach based on recognized HR models

Could you tell us something about your HR management experiences in Carlsberg Group in Serbia so far?

I have to admit there were quite a few challenges, especially regarding the corporate culture, but most of my experiences are very positive. It is a well-known fact that people in Serbia highly value authority and hierarchy while Carlsberg nurtures the principle of cooperation and acting as one big team regardless of the country. This posed quite a challenge for us because we had to adapt the way we function.

Sometimes it is much easier to do as you are told than have the freedom to make and implement independent decisions. The latter is exactly what we want from our employees – efficiency, practicality, proactive approach, new ideas and responsibility for decision-making.

We often like to say that we employ attitude and develop skills. It is very important to us that our new colleagues have a positive attitude and are open to new experiences and working with different cultures, willing to explore and play with ideas, change and re-evaluate processes, learn from others and, as I said earlier, readily pass on their knowledge and experience.

What are the main differences between Carlsberg and other companies in Serbia regarding HR management?

I don’t think it makes sense to divide companies between Carlsberg Srbija and other companies. I would rather say that there is a difference in HR management in domestic and foreign companies. Carlsberg Srbija operates in accordance with the joint mission and vision of the Carlsberg Group.

I believe that the majority of international companies have a similar approach based on recognized HR models and, I presume that there are differences in corporate culture as well, which, in our case, is based on empowering the individual for the benefit of the overall team.

Often our colleagues are engaged in projects implemented in other Carlsberg’s companies around the world – from Denmark, France and Switzerland to India and China. We take great pleasure in saying that all of our colleagues are very open-minded and welcoming, which makes learning a real pleasure.

Considering that global markets are more or less different in terms of the company-employee relations, what are these relations like in Serbia?

It is not helpful to generalize about something and then try to give a clear answer. I believe that there are different practices, both positive and less positive. Also, I believe that we, at Carlsberg Srbija, give a good example, which will, hopefully, encourage other companies to follow in our footsteps.