Our priority is to foster an environment where Gen Z can reach their goals – Interview with Danusia Necula, Head of Europe HR, R Systems Europe

In an era where innovation and fresh perspectives reign supreme, it’s impossible to overlook the incredible value that the younger generation brings to the workplace. The dynamic and tech-savvy individuals belonging to Gen Z are not just the future; they’re the driving force of the present. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Danusia Necula, Head of Europe HR here at R Systems, to delve into the unparalleled importance of Gen Z in today’s professional landscape.

From their unparalleled digital fluency to their unrelenting drive for change, Gen Z members have shown us time and again that they possess an innate ability to reshape industries and challenge conventional norms. In this insightful interview, we explore the unique perspectives and priorities of Gen Z with Danusia, as she shares her firsthand experience in embracing and harnessing the potential of this vibrant generation. We will also explore how R Systems plans to foster an environment where young professionals can grow and develop to their full potential, ultimately motivating the work environment to expand and evolve alongside them.

Danusia Necula, Head of Europe HR, R Systems Europe

What is the average employee age and tenure in your organization?
When it comes to the tenure of R Systems employees, we are grateful to have colleagues who have been with the company for 5, 10, 15, even 20, 21, 22 years. We’re happy to benefit from their experience, and we celebrate them twice a year, during our “Long Term Awards” – one of the traditional events in our company.

How many Gen Z employees do you have?
Generations are shaped after the context in which they were born. In the same way that Baby Boomers were immersed in life after WW2, Gen Z grew up with technology, social media, and the Internet, so they were shaped by them. They are the young people we first called digital natives. Of our colleagues, around 19% belong to Generation Z.

What soft and hard skills do Gen Z-ers have compared to other employees?
Abraham Lincoln once said that “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next”. Pragmatically speaking, we would like to get to know the youth of today so that we can envision tomorrow’s leaders, but we would also like to get to know them because we are curious, we like them, appreciate them, and want to have them as colleagues.

When it comes to soft skills, young people from Gen Z tend to be very adaptable, they like diversity, they are “tech savvy” and comfortable with using digital communication tools. I have also noticed that they are creative, they think differently when it comes to solving problems and they have a natural inclination towards collaboration. In terms of hard skills, young people understand technology and digital platforms in general very well, and there is a harmony between their skills and the digital environment in which they grew up and in which we find ourselves. Of course, these skills are not only found in Gen Z, but young people seem to have a greater affinity for technology because it is familiar to them since childhood.

What are the challenges of working with Gen Z? We often cover their strengths, but rarely do we talk about challenges such as emotional vulnerability or the difficulty in achieving and maintaining commitment.
Each generation has unique needs and ways of relating to the world, based on the environment that shaped them. I noticed that the young people of Generation Z have different expectations and emotional needs compared to other generations: for them, feedback and validation are very important. Therefore, they need an environment that favors communication and mutual support. Their priority is to grow, they are always looking for new opportunities for professional and personal development, for experiences that are aligned with their values. This constant desire for growth can indeed lead to lower retention. That’s why we try to create a pleasant working environment, where they feel supported and achieve their goals.

It’s very important that we approach the differences between generations with understanding and, above all, openness and curiosity. We have as much to learn from young people as they can and indeed need to learn from us, and that is why we are always looking for strategies to meet their needs.

How do you stand out when recruiting young employees? What are your most appreciated benefits?
Constant interaction is one of the best methods of taking the pulse of the organization, along with classic tools such as surveys. These surveys revealed that work flexibility and opportunities for career development are our most appreciated benefits. And, since these surveys also have a high engagement rate (we reached a 94% engagement rate in 2022), we can rightfully say that we managed to meet expectations.

First of all, our colleagues want to work from anywhere, and at R Systems we offer this kind of flexibility.

On the other hand, employees appreciate a place where they can learn and grow, so we offer professional and personal development courses, paid time off for learning, as well as access to cutting-edge technologies and the most diverse and complex projects.

We also focus on building and maintaining meaningful relationships between team members and involving managers in the training process. Remote work shouldn’t have to mean fewer career development opportunities. The key to our success is harmony between the working style that each and every one prefers: some employees come to the office every day, others 2-3 times per week, others once per month or even more rarely.

How do you foster team spirit when everyone is working remotely?
We prioritize communication and transparency, we have a sincere interest in our colleagues’ wellbeing, and we strive to stay as connected as possible.

Even though we work remotely, there is a clear line of communication within the team, and our young colleagues have at their disposal various programs, as well as mentors to guide them. We also have several wellness initiatives that encourage connection, and we organize, in each office, events that bring the team together.

Do you also offer counseling for your employees?
At company level, we have a certified career coach that colleagues can turn to at any time. We also provide a health & wellbeing program that runs throughout the year and offers access to webinars and mental health resources. We stay connected with our employees through the HR team, with whom we work closely and who are constantly in tune with our colleagues’ needs.

How will AI influence the job market in the next 3-5 years?
We are very excited about the potential of artificial intelligence. In the past few years, we’ve invested a lot in this field and today RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and AI/ML are part of our expertise.

AI is evolving at a rapid pace, and it can potentially impact the job market by boosting productivity and reducing redundant tasks, so that we can better focus on creativity.

Various studies have shown that we tend to overestimate the short-term future (2 years) and underestimate the long-term future (5 years). Therefore, from an HR perspective, my belief is that AI will not replace the human component, but it will significantly streamline some processes through automation (RPA) and the identification of candidates for certain roles. In fact, some of these things are already happening. In the long run, we need to stay open-minded and see how technology will be embraced by society, including from an ethical standpoint.

How in tune is the educational system with the needs of Gen Z and Gen Alpha, and what do these generations lack when entering the job market? What are the solutions?
The education system has evolved in the past few years, the trend is overall positive, but some areas can always be improved: such as developing practical skills and critical thinking. The traditional academic approach often fails to align with the dynamic needs of the current job market, but what we, the companies, can do, is to communicate with young people and be aware of their needs. Whether they have a technical background or they’re going through career reconversion, we can develop learning programs to help them build these skills. During our annual Programming Academies, we successfully achieve this with the help of our senior colleagues, who have an incredible experience, but we also have other internal learning programs.

Our internship program was designed to bridge some knowledge gaps and maximize each participant’s potential. We focus on practice and collaboration, which are essential for every generation.

What are your plans for growing your team in 2023?
By the end of this year, we aim to increase the business in Romania by at least 30%, which means that we aim to expand the team by around 70-80 colleagues. We are looking for experienced engineers and architects in fields like cloud migration, automation, Java, DevOps, telecom, testing and software system integration, RPA, AI/ML. At the same time, we are also looking for beginners for our Academies.

We started 2023 with 250 employees in Romania, representing more than half of the 450 people working for R Systems in Europe, our other offices being in Switzerland, the Republic of Moldova, Poland and the United Kingdom.

I am therefore convinced that we can maintain this trend, since our team in Romania has grown by over 70% between 2018 and 2022.

You can also read this story here.

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