Human Resources Company: the whole team includes aprox. 25 HR professionals and other collaborators (volunteers), and more than 35 other contributors and supporters.
Quaternary – consultancy and education
Main motives for the decision to implement the age management measures
In the last 2 years, we have noticed, among Romanian employers and candidates, the existence of ideas that appear recurrently in both camps about the advantage of younger age at employment.
Starting to investigate, we found out that the age at which a candidate starts to be less attractive is 45, in some industries it is even younger.
At the same time, we have identified companies that are looking for candidates in this age group and cannot find them. Thus, we felt the need for a project that would change the current dynamics of the labor market, by facilitating communication between employers and candidates.
Hire 45+ is a manifesto to combat the labour crisis by eliminating the age criterion at employment. Social mobilization, born from the conviction that educating the labour market, through direct addressing to employers and candidates alike, can generate change!
The project addresses the labour market and the actors involved: all employers, all senior professionals (age and competence ~ 45+ years and long experience in the labour field) and state authorities (ANOFM, Ministry of Labour – regulators)
Why “Hire 45+” project?… this is a real important question!
In the context of a global vulnerability caused by the health crisis, at the level of society and the labour market we discover the urgent need for transparent communication, constructiveness and identification of solutions and resources. But there are also some objective facts: According to the IPSOS survey, May 2020 60% of Romanians have suffered professionally due to the pandemic whilst people between 45 and 54 years old were the most affected by job loss! 23% of Romanians have suffered changes and decreases in salary, hours or benefits
The challenges and discrimination that 45+ candidates faced when starting the Hire 45+ project are now growing.
Thus, we continue to navigate towards the normalization of healthier, inclusive practices in terms of this segment of participants in the development of the labour market.
We consider such action necessary, even urgent, because the imbalances in the labor market can lead to an almost irreversible vulnerability of the whole country. Families, institutions, companies are emptied one by one, until only the memory of a constant struggle of both employers and candidates will remain. For the first time in Romania, 45+ candidates are offered a voice and a platform!
The program is called Hire 45+ and is aimed to reach National audience and interest.
The program is based on several key values:
- Equity – we fight for equal opportunities;
- Appreciation – we are campaigning for a reconsideration of the attitude towards the maturity of 45+ candidates;
- Honesty – we advocate for a firm and just attitude on both sides of the labor market barricade;
- Cultivation of work – we militate for continuous professional development and respect for the profession.
Age management dimensions
- Recruiting 45+ people
Learning, training and lifelong learning
Our way towards the age management
We started having in mind some very precise objectives:
First, increase awareness: raising an alarm signal regarding the existence in the labour market of a trend of employment discrimination based on age, an alarm signal meant to urge dialogue, acceptance of the existence of the problem and, subsequently, the discovery of solutions.
Second objective is to educate. Or … re-educate: to correct information and education of relevant players (candidates, human resources professionals, managers, etc.), so that this type of stigma based on age criteria is rejected and, why not, completely eradicated at the societal level.
Third objective is stabilization: “Casting the foundation” to build a stable and encouraging climate, which will contribute to the formation of healthy and strong bonds. Elimination of the “baggage” of assumptions and preconceived ideas related to senior candidates.
Last but maybe the most important objective is producing effective change: recording measurable results on project impact. Revealing the changes generated and the effects that the campaign had both at the level of the labor market, but also at the individual level, for the candidates and employers involved in the project.
Our plans started in autumn of 2018 and we tried to make a 2 years strategy from the beginning.
Then, in early 2019 we had a very fruitful focus group with recruitment agencies. We brought together 7 recruitment agencies in a 3-hour focus group to find out and validate the reality of the labour market in relation to candidates and employers. After that, we have gathered a pilot group of 11 diverse candidates that we support with the necessary resources to find a suitable job and to have a clear direction, a career plan, but also to advance to the next level of their potential. to become better candidates for the employers they choose. This is an experimental group made to have a clearer picture of the real experience of 45+ candidates directly from the source.
Then we focused on creating and conducting 2 market researches conducted in parallel, addressing 2 different targets – one analysis on candidates and one on employers. During summer of 2019 we had the launch of the landing page with jobs on the “undelucram” platform, with free posting for all inclusive employers in Romania and the official website of the project.
Creating partnerships with resource providers needed for the project was another crucial aspect:
- recruitment – (Happy Recruiter), Dora, the online recruitment robot that searches for and interviews candidates according to employers’ specifications
- visibility – Advanced Robotics – the Emil robot (physical humanoid for presence in airports, railway stations and malls nationwide), the recruitment of several volunteers in the organizational team & partnerships with suppliers of resources needed for the project. We created a team of 5 PR, experienced specialists for the relationship with the press and endorsers. And we are looking for 2 more for the relationship with the state
- Fundraising – we have created a team of 2 volunteers and we are looking for 2 more to offer rewards. We also focused on creating partnerships with interested employers and started discussions with project sponsors for investments in the media campaign.
Before the pandemics, we started a series of events at national level – conferences, workshops, debates – to find out the situation in the labour market and find new solutions for change (Cluj-Napoca, Brașov, Sibiu, Ploiești, Pitești, Constanța, Timișoara, Iași, Craiova). But since the Covid crisis has disturbed the programs for everybody, we were forced to cancel all the direct meetings and focus on the online aspects. But promoting the project and partners on all channels was not achieved as planned in the initial stage. So we focused on the online activities such as:
- publishing relevant articles (How do I choose to reinvent myself in the covid period? Change of workplace during the crisis/uncertainty, How to remain a 45+ employable candidate even during the virus period? The Personal Brand, Legislative Pills, etc.) and the Hire45+ Online Conversations – addressed to HR specialists and candidates.
- Hire 45+ project has assumed a mediating role between candidates and employers, with a focus on efficient and transparent communication between the parties involved. Starting from these premises, we looked for new projects that can help the parties concerned. This is how the Internship 45+ initiative was born – a communication project addressed to candidates wishing to add new skills to their CV, by participating in an Internship program, as well as to employers who have opened such positions. Internship for seniors who want a career change or updating their knowledge in a field in which they already have a long work experience is not new. Also known as returnship (return internship on the labour market), it is addressed to those who, for some reason, have stopped working as employees and want to return, needing or to adjust to the changes that have taken place, or to reorient his career.
- The newest initiative of Hire45+: Voice of the candidate and Voice of the employer – a communication and collaboration project between the two parties, which aims to shed light on what needs to be improved in all interactions between employers, candidates and employees.
Strengths and weaknesses of the chosen approaches
First of all, our strengths rely on the team – the large number of key people who are supporting us and consider the topic important. Second, the platform offers a gate to dialogue, communication, raise awareness and interest for the topic. This is a new project and Romania definitely needs such initiatives.
Of course, the biggest disadvantage may be that the impact of our activities may be hard to evaluate and it may be a long process of action until a change in attitude happens at societal level. But we have this saying we strongly believe in: The change begins with me. And with you. And with us.
Of course, the main strengths and weaknesses are related with a key question: What added value can a 45+ employee bring to an employer / team.
I can give you an example – as a professional coach I am part of many organizational change projects.
One of them is in the machine parts industry, an industry heavily affected by the lack of skilled labor. I know human resources professionals who have made and continue to make great efforts to find people and bring them to factories. In such a factory, in the role of production manager, they chose to hire a senior engineer, a very good specialist, but a man who was not aligned with the energy and dynamism that the respective factory is looking for. He was a man who had previously worked in another factory, from where he had been fired because his salary was very high and the organization considered that they could find more energetic people with lower salary demands. In his new role, the production manager was very persevering in convincing the organization’s management that it is important to pay attention to both quantity and quality.
He worked a lot on creating a good collaboration with quality engineers and integrating them into the production process. At the same time, he was a mentor and a good role model for many people in the factory.
Informally and later, formally, this man has contributed to the growth of two generations of engineers, team leaders and managers in production and quality.
As far as I know, this man is still Production Manager and I personally appreciate him very much for the openness to learning that I saw in a coaching project that I carried out with the management team of the respective factory.
I believe that when the organization is open to diversity and has processes aligned in this direction, and people are also open to change and continuous learning, the organization is healthy and successful.
Then there are specific advantages for each program and action we are sustaining under Hire45+:
- The Hire45+ Conversations are an interactive way of exploring what is the psychological and social impact that the Corona Virus period has on us, no matter what part of the labor market we are, employers or candidates. Many recruitment and selection specialists, career counselors, career coaches, recruiters are joining together in online meetings for debating and discussing with each other. This has been proving very valuable for the HR community, especially in this pandemic crisis.
- The returnship program – Although quite little used on the Romanian labour market, this type of internship has notable advantages, both for the employer and for the intern. Romanian legislation is advantageous for the intern because the employer is obliged to provide him with remuneration and training in the field in which he works. For the employer, the previous experience with which the intern comes to the company can generate new procedures for optimizing the operational flow or innovative ideas for solving existing problems at the level of the organization.
The intern also has a number of advantages, in addition to earning money. These are the following:
– has the opportunity to explore a different career and learn new things
– develops its network of connections
– adds a new experience in CV
– can more easily receive a job offer, possibly even from the company with which he signed the internship contract.
- The HappyRecruiter system which Hire45+ is promoting and sustaining is a digital recruitment ecosystem that helps you unlock the recruitment potential of the most popular social platforms and gives you the ability to target and easily reach candidates. Dora, Happy Recruiter’s own virtual assistant, talks to candidates on social networks, getting involved with them at all stages of the recruitment process, saving you time and improving the candidate’s overall experience. Founded in 2018, the company conducted over 650,000 interviews in the first two years. This is huge in terms of access to people and gathering of relevant information!
The “aha!” moment experienced during the process
The current game in the labor market is the “creation” of all players in this market: employers, employees and candidates, governors, regulators, consultants, NGOs, etc.
This game facilitates the relocation of employees from one job to another in the hope that they will find better working and living conditions there, the frustration of managers about labor costs and legislative unpredictability, short-term strategies at the expense of long-term impact.
As professionals in change and human resources, we believe that we have the ability to sound the alarm and show that it can be done differently, with the help of employers who are already working in this direction of sustainability, diversity and creating a better future for children. our.
We want to inspire the labor market for a change of mentality, both for employers and candidates and I think change needs to be on both sides.
Imagine what it would be like if, in the Romanian business environment, there were as many companies as possible that say they are proud to have senior employees? What if senior employees were proud to be flexible, open to learning and change?
We are professionals in the field of individual and collective change and we believe that this strategy of employers to focus mainly on the young workforce is not sustainable.
The consequences of this strategy are already beginning to be seen. News such as “nine Romanians leave the country every hour” or “The National Institute of Statistics estimates that Romania’s population has decreased by two million in the last ten years due to migration” or “more and more Romanians leave Romania” are no longer novelty, they are a normality.
Activities to sustain this initiative
There are already many organizations that have taken on a different type of strategy and have begun to be open to employing any age group, without discrimination, in order to ensure business continuity.
We believe that a strategy that facilitates diversity, such as age, gender, experience, is a sustainable one for us as a whole business environment, not just an exception for a few pioneering organizations in this area.
We operate on a voluntary basis, in the legal form of NGOs, with over 90 individual volunteers and over 40 partnerships with companies that help with resources, on a voluntary basis. The projects are funded by sponsorships from companies whose commendable initiatives we promote to candidates and professionals representing organizations.
Monitoring system of the effects
Before starting this project and campaign we had several market studies that showed us the existing problems in the labour market and the needs of the candidates and employers. The project was focused to respond on certain needs. The project aims at measurable results over 2 years at the end of which we will analyse the market situation again.
The impact will come from all directions of action and from all those who form it – it is certainly the largest and most complex campaign of education and change so far and already come with new big names in the human resources market in Romania , volunteer experts and specialists who together create a network with national coverage and bring the necessary resources to recruit as many people as possible and facilitate communication between employers and candidates.
Beneficial effects of the initiative
First of all, we want to achieve a change in the attitude and mentality of both the employers and the employees. Second, we really supervise some real indicators on increasing the number of 45+ employed.
But the most significant effect would be amending legislation so that employers are encouraged by the state to hire 45+. In fact, there are already such initiatives in Romanian law – employers who recruit unemployed people over the age of 45 can receive subsidies for the first 12 months of employment (cf. GEO 60/2018). However, I met some companies that consider the process difficult, with a lot of bureaucracy and that do not want to access these benefits in order not to invite controls from state institutions. So there is a communication problem here as well.
The dynamics of the current market are due to many prejudices and there are many decision-makers who need to be called together to make a difference.
The age at which a candidate starts to be less attractive is 45 years old, in some industries it is even younger. At the same time, there are companies that are looking for candidates in this age group and cannot find them. Thus, we felt the need for a project that would change the current dynamics of the labor market, by facilitating communication between employers and candidates. I Hire 45+ is intended to be the first national campaign against age discrimination in employment, with measurable results and concrete actions, bringing together key partners in the field of human resources and the largest network of volunteer experts.
We met many valuable people in companies, senior professionals who felt trapped in roles in which they no longer wanted to work, but did not have the courage to leave knowing that they would not find anything better.
We met professionals over 40 years old who lost their jobs and for whom a very difficult period of looking for a new job followed. A period that lasted over 1 year and that meant many attempts, failures, refusals and failures.
They tried to do anything – they sought vocational advice from recruitment companies, they appealed to all relatives and friends to recommend them for different positions, they applied on all the channels on which they found jobs available, they met with all the recruiters who they answered the phone and the like.
It is not an easy experience to find a job where you feel that you can really contribute with all the skills and experience you have, after the age of 40.
And some of these people chose to leave Romania because they found jobs abroad, through a more accessible process than in the country. Others were left with a bitter taste and the lesson learned to “stick with the teeth of the job found” so as not to go through the same experience again.
We want to inspire the labour market for a change of mentality, both for employers and candidates. And we strongly think the change must be on both sides. We want, in the Romanian business environment, to have as many companies as possible that say they are proud to have senior employees, and senior employees are flexible, open to learning and change.