Nataša Stamenković, HR Director, Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS)

What’s App In HR Management?

Thanks to the last 20 years of globalisation, modern technologies and social networks, nowadays we don’t have a delay in approaching the best HR world practises and policies. It is all available immediately. It has just become a matter of choosing which HR models and practises companies will apply. Looking at the local labour market, there are no companies without HR departments and practises, including local ones.


Does quantity guarantee and provide quality in this case? – I am not sure. But in comparison with the situation 10-15 years ago, this is a big improvement. HR management came to Serbia thanks to the first international companies that entered our market. Later on, others used their models and spread HR practises all around. We implemented HR in every company, but we didn’t develop it a lot.

There is no doubt that the role and responsibilities of HR management are changing. A few years ago, good HR practises had a different definition and purpose than today.

It was important and enough to manage standard HR processes: attraction, recruitment and selection of desired candidates you need, develop talent management practises, rewarding policies and employee relations. Of course, labour law rules provide the base for the entire employment lifecycle process. Payroll and personnel administration are a mandatory part of regular and proper HR departments. Each HR department tends to transform from an administrative to a strategic role in the company. HR managers were successful if they had a seat in Board rooms. This was confirmation that the HR function was powerful and recognised as an important player in the company. It was more of a “power game“ than a real need for the high formal status of HR.

This is the recent past. Almost history. HR management has always been a suicidal profession.

The better you are in HR, the less you are needed in the company. The main role of HR professionals is to transfer knowledge about people management and create and deliver tools to managers that help them manage their people. When our managers are good enough in these competences, they no longer need HR.

But there is a survival formula for the HR profession: we need to change our role and way of doing business. We have to shift the focus of our attention onto different things.

Today, HR is not about skills, knowledge and performance management anymore. The focus of HR is neither the mind-set of employees nor the management of people’s intellectual and skill potential.

Something new is happening. Lifestyles have changed.

Social networks, new technologies, affect lifestyle changes… It is no longer about the mind-set of employees, it is more about the heart-set of employees.

We are talking more and more about emotions and communication. We are ever more focused on stress (mostly created in the work environment) and recovery techniques. Yoga, meditation, energy management, health food, mindfulness, welfare… We are talking more and more about work-life balance… We measure work against life and try to strike a balance between these two areas, as though work is not part of life, but out of life…

HR has started to take care about the happiness of employees, stress relief methods etc. We don’t talk about organisational development anymore, but about organisational health… Fitness, sport management and health programmes for our overloaded, exhausted management and employees have become a mandatory part of our benefit policies.

It is not an attraction tool anymore if you have a better company car, a better laptop or a mobile phone, nice office space… but if you have flexible worktime, if you care about the health of employees and their families, if you have relaxing work zones with table football and pool, lazy bags and massage chairs in the workspace, luxurious and informal office space that makes you feel totally relaxed… this is what provides a competitive advantage to the most desired companies, the best places to work in. We are trying to peel negative thoughts off the mind of our employees… to instil in them a habit of being happy and satisfied.

Today, HR is not about skills, knowledge and performance management anymore. The focus of HR is neither the mindset of employees nor the management of people’s intellectual and skill potential

We are trying to motivate them with an opportunity for personal development, but no longer with money (to remind you, I am talking about modern and future HR management, not old-fashioned practises)… as money is a tool for lazy managers… If you want to motivate people, it is not about incentives. You have to manage them through culture, through hiring. How you treat your people is more important than a few hundred euros. You can punish through rewards if you don’t do it smart enough… You have to sell your desired candidates the promise that they will be happy and tranquil in your company, respected and treated as adults, loved not feared, free not pressured, provided with a meaningful job. It is not about fixed working times, fixed salaries, bonuses and good holiday policies.

Even if you provide all of this, there is no guarantee that the best people will not leave sooner than you want.

People are complex processes not just names. So, as HR we have to create and provide new tools to our managers, be able to improve company efficiency by leading a new workforce profile. To find ways to manage collaboration and communication between older employees and those who grew up looking at screens instead of running outside and typing instead of speaking.

These are the challenges of modern HR. It is not about the material world in the business environment anymore; it is about emotion management, new lifestyles, neuroscience, mindfulness, flexibility and stress release, loyalty – first to yourself and then to the employer…

HR managers have to “change old clothes“ to be able to help their managers with this new profile of employees if they want their profession to survive. They have to make a purpose not to get a purpose.

I wish good luck to all HR professionals, knowing some of them will be able to “jump aboard this train“. Those who know that discomfort is the price of being world class.

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