The BPCC held its first HR & Talent Trends forum at the Warsaw offices of AstraZeneca on 27 March 2024. The event, aimed at corporate HR directors and senior HR managers, included an overview of the latest trends in management and talent acquisition in Poland, across Europe and worldwide.

The ‘invisible revolution’ – the irrevocably changing relationship between employers and employees – was analysed in detail, while employee-benefits experts listed the most desirable benefits that employees are currently looking for, and how much they cost.

After the presentations, a panel discussion with CEOs and management-board members focused on the strategic level of human resources management. They looked at the impact of AI in recruitment; best practices in supporting female leadership; diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in action; challenges in the field of labour law, and competition for talents.

The meeting was opened by BPCC CEO, Paweł Siwecki, who welcomed guests and outlined the forum’s purpose.

Agnieszka Kulikowska, senior partner, and Michał Starościak, partner at Page Executive, examined the invisible revolution in depth, making forecasts about the future of work based on Page Executive’s global survey of 70,000 employees. This showed that 90% of employees were open to changing employers even if they’ve changed jobs in the past three years; the economic slowdown isn’t making people less likely to change jobs. Flexible working time and hybrid work were most important factors for people considering a new employer, as were DE&I, ESG and a strong feedback culture. New positions and job titles will emerge, while established functions will disappear; this calls for an emphasis on reskilling and upskilling. Greater female representation on boards is another trend noted among successful companies. Looking at the Polish market, the past three years has shown a strong trend of Poles promoted to regional and global functions. And Polish-owned businesses are beginning to take executive recruitment seriously; it’s no longer the preserve of foreign investors present in Poland. Trends within the People & Culture domain include raising salaries and higher bonuses offered. The HR director role is becoming more strategic; more often than in the past HR directors are being invited onto management boards. ESG responsibilities go to heads of HR and/or heads of finance – creating space for further development. Everyone is looking for the optimal balance in hybrid work.

Aleksandra Karger, director of the Health Insurance and Benefits Department, and Łukasz Pyzel, business development director, at Willis Towers Watson discussed the key trends and challenges in employee benefits for 2024. Polish employers strategy remains focused on coping with skills shortages, the rising costs of recruitment, and pressure on wages. Employee satisfaction surveys show demand rising for extended healthcare packages. Healthcare insurance prices are rising by 10-11% whereas Poland’s CPI is currently 2.8%. This is due to a lack of healthcare professionals and diagnostics delayed by the pandemic. Private pension plans are also important; less than 50% of employees have opted into one. Poles would still rather keep their surplus cash in savings accounts than trust their future finances to pension funds. This needs to be sold as a benefit by employers. Poland’s retirement age is unsustainably low for its demographics. Employers need to support their employees by improving their money-management skills, as well as supporting them in mental health – prevention and cure. Good organisational culture is crucial, with training in how to deal with stress in difficult situations. Training for managers, with a focus on improved communication skills, is key to building a positive atmosphere in the workplace.

Agnieszka Czarnecka, head of HR Consultancy CEE, Hays described employee value proposition (EVP) as the first step towards conscious employer branding. A survey of Polish employers shows that 59% of them expect difficulties in recruitment. Fewer are recruiting, but problems remain. There is often a mismatch between what employer offers and what employee expects. Employees are more aware of what they want; flexibility is most sought after. Salaries and bonuses are still important, but non-financial aspects are increasingly significant – the old saying “you join a firm but leave a boss” is still true. Flexible work is key. The pandemic has brought changes; employees are less interested in joining start-ups than they were. Security and a good employer brand are more attractive than the excitement. Office location, an expanded healthcare package and a company car are important. EVP means knowing your target group and reacting instantly. “You shape your firm’s atmosphere. Don’t ignore the emotional layer. Talk to employees – the helicopter view doesn’t show emotions. Understand your employees and candidates. Focus groups, and satisfaction opinion surveys are essential.” said Ms Czarnecka. She suggested setting up a career microsite with videos of employees. “Define and communicate your offer. Find those small differences in your corporate culture that make you stand out. Plan your campaign, and communicate it to the market,” she said.

After a networking coffee break, the discussion panel, moderated by Agnieszka Kulikowska, considered the most important talent trends observed on the Polish HR market. The panellists were Izabella Chauffour, managing director for HR, BNP Paribas; Magdalena Dziewguć, president, Google Cloud Poland; Marta Jagnieża, vice-president for HR, AstraZeneca Pharma Poland; Andrzej Pacek, president, NatWest Poland and Sławomir Paruch, managing partner, PCS Littler

Topics covered: DE&I and to what extent should it be implemented top-down or bottom-up? Building female self-confidence in leadership roles, LGBT+ issues and law, international support network, employee awards, have to be courageous enough to talk about these issues. Filtering out intolerance before recruitment. Social dialogue has become easier, not the same taboo as there were. Multiple communities feeling equal in the workplace should be the goal. Compliance and the opportunities that the law creates. Discrimination is a risk for business; the law – should it be seen as a friend, a guardian or an enemy? Gender pay gap – if more than 5%, employers have to notify this. Share the care – men and women should take equal responsibility for child-care duties. Poland seen as a location with good talent availability. Challenges for employer branding. War in Ukraine negative impact on Poland’s brand-image as a location. With half a million Poles working in Polish global corporate hubs, the export of advanced services is important to the Polish economy. AI is a big chance for Poland; it has the energy, the compute, and the skills necessary. The more global firms are present in Poland, the less likely is that the war will spread to Poland. Build initiatives to use AI, push them upwards in the organisation. AI question: should employees have access to algorithms used in HR to determine remuneration and bonuses and for recruitment?

A question-and-answer session at which the panellists were quizzed by the audience ended the substantive part of the forum, which was followed by a networking lunch.

Questions raised: How to introduce change into corporate structures? Change is the new normal, no longer is it stability. Upskilling and reskilling will be vital. How to be responsible for change, individually. Train your brain to accept change, to adapt. Change management? Look for compromises to create a place where everyone fits in. You have to be authentic, not a corporate clone.  Ageing society; older employees need to fit in, demographic challenges can be overcome by bridging generations. Regulations – are we over-regulated? Ease of Polish law in hiring and firing, flexibility in terms of forms of employment and working time, moderate taxes. Poland does have good law, but we can’t sell it. Good location – Poles have talent and love of freedom and flexibility. Poles are historically and genetically tolerant, but need to sell it well.


Page Executive reports: