COVID-19 creates long-term changes in human resources

Prishtina, October 21, 2020 – In addition to the multiple changes it has caused in the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic has also restructured work methods and locations, thus further emphasizing the role of technology in communication. At the same time, human resource departments within companies are faced with the need to restructure their work strategies in order to maintain employee productivity. Changes implemented in organizational strategies, staff reorganization, and remote working were some of the main points of discussion during the latest virtual forum organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, regarding the impact of the pandemic on the reorganization of human resources.

AmCham Human Resources Committee Chairperson Donika Karaxha, Talent Acquisition Manager at Sutherland as well as moderator of this forum, stated that the pandemic has highlighted the need to implement changes in human resource activities so as to immediately adapt to the situation, while also mentioning the need for recognition of electronic registration of holidays.

Anita Kosumi-Ajeti, Head of the Human Resources Department at the Bank for Business (BPB), stressed that one of the main challenges this institution has faced during this time has been the organization of work processes so as to enable the continuity of activities and customer services while also motivating staff through ongoing communication. According to her, BPB has taken all measures necessary to maintain employee wellbeing and also functionalize remote work in the departments where it was possible to do so. Regarding the latter, Kosumi-Ajeti said that working remotely has significantly emphasized the importance of internal communication, and the role of the bank’s leadership in managing teams remotely. She also stressed that the preventive measures implemented by health institutions have served not only to raise customer awareness about the use of electronic banking services, but also as an impetus for the advancement of these processes by the banking sector in general.

Shkumbin Ibraimi, Chief Executive Officer of Mercurius Consulting, stressed that staff recruitment services, especially in information technology, have increased during the pandemic period, while digital transformation processes were accelerated as a result of isolation. Speaking about the challenges caused by this unprecedented situation, Ibraimi said that an particularly challenging dfficulty to overcome has been the adequate testing and evaluation of candidates from a distance. Meanwhile, according to him, this way of working, although a necessary process for the situation in which we are, will have long-term negative impacts due to lack of verbal communication and social activity within companies. Ibrahim further called for understanding between the employees and the owners of the companies in case of termination of contracts.

Vedat Hajdari, Manager of the Human Resources Department at HIB Petrol, emphasized that considering the nature of the work of this company, where approximately 70% of employees have direct contact with clients, a major challenge to overcome has been the organization of work activities. Hajdari also shared with the participants some of the measures that have been implemented in this company to avoid termination of employees’ contracts, in which case the workers that were facing the most risk, either from their position in customer service, or personal health aspects have been sent on medical leave. Further, Hajdari stressed that within the labor law there are provisions which define and justify absenteeism due to such situations, however dismissal due to the difficult economic situation of the company is also justified. According to him, issues that must be addressed are the lack of formality in the workforce, as well as the inclusion of force majeure in contracts.

Arlinda Vllasolli, Manager of the Human Resources Department at Trepharm, stated that one of the biggest challenges her department has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic period emerged from the late-night decision-making by the Government of Kosovo, which left little space for the implementation of efficient rules within the company. Vllasolli also pointed out that considering the nature of Trepharm’s activity, the production department worked at high capacity while the administrative department worked from home. She also shared some of the preventive measures still in force within the company, such as restructuring the use of common areas for workers, temporarily cutting off contact with external parties, as well as frequent temperature checks. Vlasolli stated that the termination of employees’ contracts at Trepharm has been minimal.