Young employees prioritize flexible working schedules and decent pay

What are the main things that young employees are looking for when applying for a position nowadays? What motivates them the most? Jurgita Paiciene, the Manager of Career Projects and Personnel Selection at Atranka360, a recruitment company, lists five main things that current employees expect from their potential employers.

1. The current trend is flexible working hours or at least a hybrid work model wherein people can choose when to start and when to end their workday, work from home or office. In other words, adapting to employee needs in terms of working hours is a win for employers.

2. Salary will always remain one of the most motivating factors. Although currently people are really weighing the effort vs salary dynamic and are no longer willing to go all out in hopes of a better future.

3. The type of work itself. Now people are looking for more harmony and the feeling of happiness, work-life balance, so to speak. They are less afraid of change, are more eager to search for better opportunities, and try various jobs instead of being focused on just one career path.

4. Co-workers, managers, and microclimate also remain relevant.

5. Additional benefits such as extra days off, health insurance, workation abroad, and the company’s status in the market.

The myths and disadvantages of working in Lithuania: there’s room for improvement

Lithuania as an employer is not always seen positively and the most common three disadvantages are as follows: too low salaries, nepotism, and lower pay for women than men for the same work. According to Paiciene, this criticism is valid, but there are some myths, too.

“We cannot boast having high salaries, that’s for sure. Even now you can find a company where a production manager makes EUR 1500 after taxes, and a company where a sales manager’s fixed salary is EUR 1500. The salary is very dependent on the company’s policy, how eager it is to share with employees. But if the professional is really good, and the company wants to retain them, the salary is pretty decent, and people don’t leave such companies,” Paiciene said.

She has noticed that the second myth about nepotism is probably more relevant for positions in public authorities.

“But I hope that the situation is changing and that smart leaders of public authorities want competent employees whose work results speak for themselves. The private sector most definitely does not engage in nepotism by putting acquaintances in high positions – it is looking for employees with certain competences, values that match company values, and actual results and value,” Paiciene noted.

When it comes to differences in men and women salaries, she has noticed that everything depends not on the gender, but on the position. However, equal opportunities and fair pay must be ensured. Paiciene has also indicated three aspects that distinguish Lithuania as an employer the most in the global market.

1. Digitalization and optimization of business processes. We have certainly made huge progress in this area compared to the old European countries. Our aim to make processes and resources, including human, more efficient, according to Paiciene, is miles ahead of the rest of Europe.

2. Even though we have broken the ice, we are still trailing behind global trends, and in many workplaces the employer is still above the employee. More management, less communication, more rules and restrictions, whereas the global market is more relaxed, less focused on details such as clothing during a job interview, background during online meetings, and hours worked because the common goal is results.

3. Employees really appreciate the Nordic (horizontal) leadership style where the manager is but a leader, steering the team in the right way. Direct communication, a pass for mistakes (no punishment), open dialogue and discussion, and focus to achieve results is valued as well. Offer remote work and emotional comfort and you’ll get applicants.

Salary and position are constant motivators, but some changes are present too

Bozena Petikonis-Sabaniene, Head of Human Relations at Ignitis Renewables, said that their recruitment team interviews hundreds of candidates every month who still prioritize salary, job role, and work-life balance.

“Payment and responsibilities are rather constant motivators. Candidates want to receive transparent information about the salary, what is expected of them, and how their duties may change in the future. However, the work-life balance elements and expectations have changed significantly after the pandemic. It is almost impossible to get through an interview without the candidate asking about the possibilities of working remotely, the peculiarities of hybrid work, and overtime,” she explained.

Petikonis-Sabaniene added that candidates also want additional days off, health insurance, and the ability to harmonize work and family needs.

“Also we are hearing more often that future employees want development opportunities: they ask about the training budget, time allocated, and specific courses. Another motivating factor that is often mentioned to us is the desire to perform meaningful work, to feel that whatever it is that they are doing has an impact on some huge beneficial change. For example, many candidates for project manager positions in the renewable energy sector say that they wish to develop projects that create a greener world or a better tomorrow for future generations. This is a fascinating, but also highly obligating thing – we realize that we need to listen to what makes people feel good at work and focus on the main goal,” the head of HR said.

According to her, the company’s priorities, accordingly, are clear and transparent payment system, psychological well-being of employees (there’s a separate mental health program, including the Well-being Mentors’ Network and an external mental health hotline), and professional development (for example, the company has an internal academy where the employees themselves give lectures, and energy expertise and other future competences are honed at the company’s ‘university’).

Petikonis-Sabaniene has noticed that every tenth Ignitis Renewables employee came back to Lithuania from abroad. The majority are professionals who are actively sought out globally.

“Despite competition, they have chosen to work in Lithuania. Unfortunately, the main reason for coming back is still not the salary – other Western European countries often offer more, although the gap in highly qualified positions is constantly narrowing. I’d say that the more niche the qualification, the smaller the gap. Such is the tendency of the global labour market. It is wonderful that we can offer increasingly more high added value jobs, and this is one of the reasons why Lithuanians are coming back – they can do what they like and build a career here, in their home country,” Petikonis-Sabaniene noted.

She has dispelled the myth about nepotism in the labour market: many companies have transparent selection processes, job ads are public, and recruitment is often done by external parties, thus the bias is decreasing year after year.

“Currently, the supply of professionals is often smaller than the demand, so nepotism just doesn’t work, you simply can’t have that many relevant acquaintances. When discussing this myth, we should separate protectionism and recommendations. The latter are valued in the entire world, and we, just like other companies, actually encourage our colleagues to recommend future employees. This means that the entire company is indirectly taking part in the selection process,” she continued.
According to Petikonis-Sabaniene, when it comes to women salary, it must be acknowledged that numerous changes need to happen.

“I see that the candidates themselves often are more modest and accept a lower salary than men [for the same work]. It is a complex issue that involves the upbringing of girls as modest and timid, lower self-confidence of women in general, and the more vulnerable social situation, especially if they have children. We are trying to solve it ‘institutionally’, i.e. if we hire similar candidates for the same work, we make sure that they are offered the same salary despite the gender. We hope that in time this approach will become the entire market’s practice.”

All things considered, the salary seems decent

The Manager of Legal Projects at Ignitis Margaux Tamasauskas is French. She came to Lithuania to work and live. In her every day work she values quality and meaningfulness of daily tasks.

“I need to feel a connection with the goals we are aiming at and be able to be proud of the work that is being done to achieve them. Previously, I worked in both the public and private sectors, and the aforementioned two conditions have always been key to me. At my current workplace they are met. The colleagues are striving for the best results, are hard-working, and help each other. Together, we want to develop the Baltic Sea wind turbine farm which will ensure economic and energy independence for various countries and significantly contribute to energy consumption decarbonisation in the European Union. I’m proud to be part of it,” she said.

The woman recalls how 1.5 years ago, when she came to Lithuania, she didn’t have many connections, but believed from the start they were important to get the desired job. Having met several people who worked in the field that interested her, a couple of months later Tamasauskas got an offer from Ignitis Renewables even though she wasn’t even looking for a job then because she worked remotely for a French law firm.

Tamasauskas is convinced that sitting at home and waiting for a job offer is not as effective as nurturing connections and getting noticed. She says that the difference in pay for men and women indeed is a global problem, and only several countries have managed to solve it. According to Tamasauskas, it can only be eliminated by encouraging men to be more involved in the family life, so that women could strike a balance between work and family. She believes that this is the most relevant topic of this decade after global warming.

“I think that women do not know how to bargain for higher salaries and undervalue their work. This applies to me as well. Nevertheless, when it comes to smaller salaries, I believe that currently the situation is changing drastically. Sure, it will take time for the changes to become meaningful, but since I came here from Paris, I’ve been considering not just the salary. At the company, I can train at a gym, spend time outdoors, and engage in leisure activities and the managers treat me with respect. In life I have demographic pressure, nature in close vicinity, and virtually no stress. All things considered, the salary seems decent,” Tamasauskas said.

Employers have to offer more than just a competitive salary

Head of Personnel Department at SEB Lithuania Kristina Astrauskiene said that the Lithuanian labour market was very dynamic; therefore, in order to attract and maintain talented employees, employers had to offer more than just a competitive salary.

“Talking about the market in general, we see that employees in Lithuania value development and career opportunities, inner culture, and flexible working conditions, they assess a company’s success in the market and choose the company that wants to maintain a healthy life-work balance of its employees, and only then the payment is indicated as a criterion. Employees think that eventually they will get paid more due to their performance and results,” Astrauskiene said.

Men and women earn equal pay for the same or similar work

Astrauskiene is certain that when creating a positive work environment, the role of leaders or managers is key. Employees often choose an environment that promotes growth, where relations are based on trust, and where they feel empowered to act. According to her, when it comes to myths, they are dispelled by using open communication and ensuring clear processes that are used for recruitment and determining and periodically reviewing payment.

Other motivational means are more important than money

DELFI has recently conducted an employee survey, and the results show what the things that current employees value the most are. Sandra Meskauskaite-Stepsiene, Head of Administration at DELFI, said that at any company monetary incentives and various bonuses will make it into TOP 3 or TOP 5 of benefits. But this year, it has been increasingly apparent that employees value not only financial awards.

“Our survey and the practice of other companies reveal that more and more often other benefits, not monetary incentives, make it to the top in terms of value. This year’s survey showed that for our employees one of the most important things is additional health insurance. Perhaps it is related to the fact that we have a lot activities aimed at promoting health, we encourage being active, and conduct additional blood tests. We are glad that the employees are satisfied with his additional benefit and use it,” she said.

Previous employee surveys have shown that various training courses are valued a little bit less, but currently their significance has been growing, and the ability to improve yourself is among the most valued things.

“We not only provide the opportunity to participate in various training programs and conferences, but also have other events, such as various festivals, concerts, leisure activities, etc. These, too, are among the most liked and appreciated by the employees,” Meskauskaite-Stepsiene added.

Additional days off are also in the TOP 5 of the benefits, as rated by the staff.

“We offer additional days off on our own initiative, they are not provided for by the law. They are two days a year for volunteering activities and a birthday day off. The ideas to have these came from the employees. They said they would like to have such days off, and we obliged,” Meskauskaite-Stepsiene said.

According to her, recently the work principles have changed substantially at the company, and hybrid work is valued.

“The hybrid work model is still very valued. Everyone is alternating between working from home or at the office. We don’t have compulsory days for office work, the employees decide themselves. I think that such self-regulation contributed to the fact that our staff no longer cares what conveniences await at work. They were given the opportunity to outfit a workplace at home, so they don’t prioritize the state of the office, i.e. that it should be super-modern, with snacks and food tastings every day. COVID has changed our understanding about the office, thus now our employees can work both at home and the office,” she noted.

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