Robert Jenovai, Chief HR Officer, Nelt Group

People – On The Top Of Nelt’s Agenda

Sincere care for employees through structured people development and regular two-way communication should be the number one priority for all leaders. This way we strengthen motivation, generating the ambition to perform and the ambition to achieve results. Without such culture in place, there is no personal development of employees, nor development of the company

Significant changes to organizational structure of Nelt Group and new approach toour modus operandi secured us stability and helped us gain new businesses in 2020, an extremely challenging year for the entire economy. Significant changes to organizational structure of Nelt Group and new approach toour modus operandi secured us stability and helped us gain new businesses in 2020, an extremely challenging year for the entire economy.

During its 29 years of operations, Nelt Group has become synonym for the successful business system. Does most of the credit for that belong to employees?


Great credit certainly goes to employees and teams. In addition, continuous learning, as a characteristic of our organisation, has contributed greatly to us building a successful and sustainable business system.

Through its vision, clear strategy, commitment and orientation towards goals, Nelt Group bases its business on building trust in employees, partners and clients, with a high level of responsibility for the broader community.

Apart from regular reinforcements through most talented external candidates, internal movements are also frequent. Therefore, many of high positions are held by our employees, who have developed themselves and gradually progressed within the company. They represent Nelt’s best ambassadors.

Across all markets where Nelt operates the company has as many as 4,000 workers. How do you succeed in ensuring that they all see Nelt as their home and share Nelt’s value system?

We strongly believe that the long-term success of the company is dependent on two equally important factors: financial capital and human resources. That’s why on all levels we are committed to the company values – a winning mentality, innovation, ownership, long-term perspective, and caring mentality. These values are turned into specific behaviours, so every single employee can understand and reflect them in daily operations.

We communicate our values in a very structured way through the organization. On the top, we build a culture in which everyone lives the values of Nelt through personal example.

Our values will be a key factor in the realisation of our vision and strategic goals over the next 29 years of operations.

How do you encourage innovation, ownership, commitment, and a winning mentality among employees?

We provide a working environment in which everyone can give their best. That gives rise to personal responsibility, innovativeness and a winning mentality, which leads us to the desired result. We improve our processes based on employee suggestions and ideas; we support changes and don’t accept the status quo.

Our starting point is complete trust in our employees, in their competencies and skills, while the leaders in the organisation create an environment in which their teams provide suggestions, make decisions, and take responsibility.

Or, stated more specifically, employees can feel both autonomy and support within the scope of their responsibilities.

Robert Jenovai

What is a pleasant and stimulating working environment for you? What can and should a good worker expect from their employer?

We endeavour to create a working environment in which everyone can contribute in the best way, but also to achieve personal ambitions.

Besides modern workplace, we provide lots of other benefits through comparative earnings and rewarding system for personal and team contributions. Apart from this, the company also supports the career aspirations of employees, and provides certain flexibility and fair work life balance.

It’s crucial to provide purpose to employees: “…connect me with the company values, vision and mission, provide me a meaningful job and help me to feel that I belong here…”.

Everyone wonders how they should motivate their employees, but we just need to stop demotivating them. We need a more adaptive approach that’s more focused on individuals, focused on what motivates each and every one of us.

We endeavour to create a working environment in which everyone can contribute in the best way, but also to achieve personal ambitions

Could you tell us a little more about your “Good Start” program, which you launched five years ago?

The eight months long development program is targeting final year students, graduates and master’s students, who are willing to learn through practical on-the-job experience. Each “good starter” receives a mentor with whom they go through all phases and tasks, and as part of their preparation, and gets a training at the beginning of each phase. At the end of each phase, through the presentation, participants show what they have learned and how they would solve a specific real life business task, while mentors are to provide their feedback. The program results in a complete project that the trainee should present, summarizing all their newly acquired knowledge.

We consider this program as being special for three reasons. First of all, it is very important for the whole organisation, because more than 60 colleagues participate in the process, through training, mentoring, assessments, field work and providing feedback. The HR function and Business are equally included in the program, giving it greater value and significance. Secondly, the program includes both internal and external candidates. Internal candidates transfer company values and make integration easier, while external candidates provide freshness, new ideas and a different perspective. Thirdly, more than 90% of participants from previous generations were hired.

They represent a talent pool that will very soon be ready for their next roles and responsibilities, improving and developing Nelt’s operations in the coming years.

How have you handled the pandemic that has now been going on for a year? What does the “new normal” look like at Nelt?

Unity is the key word which describes us in this time of the pandemic. Additionally, the values we nurture have bubbled up to the surface and become even more visible. During the moments of crisis, we clearly saw that our employees truly live our values, which show that we did the right things during the previous period. We demonstrated a winning mentality and the ability to very quickly adapt, organise and do our job, even in situations where that seems impossible.

We organised an internal “Crisis Team”, which spent the whole time taking care of the consistency and timeliness of all activities, but also transparency in communication through the organisation, which we gave special importance during this period. We provided full support to our colleagues in the field, in order to ease the situation for them in these times of extraordinary circumstances. As a company, in the pandemic, we justified the importance of our role in the FMCG supply chain inall markets in whichwe operate. Thanks to the efforts of everyone in the Nelt Group, shops are well supplied, and citizens have access to required products.

Many companies have been forced to reduce their employee numbers and salaries, to close facilities and abandon markets, while Nelt is announcing job vacancies… You’ve had no reason to change plans?

Last year was for sure the year which required change over plans. We deeply analysed and re-examined our processes, and adjusted the “route to market”, considering new requirements and digital trends, and we did all of this with the aim to ensure the long-term sustainability of the company. In that sense, 2020 was a year of significant changes, but with the winning mentality of our organisation, timely decisions and a clear orientation towards achieving goals, we are today talking about hiring new employees.

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