“Challenges have shown us how strong we are”

Ivana Markovic, Lidl: “Challenges have shown us how strong we are”

“Overnight, we became responsible for the supply and stability of the food market, and our employees – heroes from the shadows who are on the front lines – enabled our citizens to live a more or less normal life,” he told BIZLife magazine. Ivana Markovic, Executive Director of Human Resources, Lidl.

  • Lidl is the winner of the prestigious certificate “Top Employer Serbia” and “Top Employer Europe” for 2021. What made you stand out as the best employer?

Since our arrival in Serbia, listening to the needs of employees and market trends, we strive to be above expectations as an employer. The official confirmation that we have succeeded in that came through the certificate for the best employers on the market – “Top Employer Serbia 2021”. This certificate is awarded at the national and regional level by the Top Employer Institute in the Netherlands. The key criteria on the basis of which the decision is made are precisely defined HR processes and procedures, followed by the advantages that the company provides to its employees, and in addition, Lidl Serbia justifies its position as the best employer with constant care and competitive conditions in our company. Investing in people’s development is of key importance, because it not only increases their motivation and productivity, but such an investment brings profit for the employer, in the form of additional employee engagement and greater company success.

  • During the pandemic, employees in commercial facilities are among those on the “first line” of the risk of infection. How did you ensure the safety of your employees?

The situation in which the whole world found itself a year ago put us in front of seemingly insurmountable challenges, having in mind, on the one hand, the requirement to keep a distance, and on the other, the nature of our business in trade, which implies intensive contact with customers. Overnight, we became responsible for the supply and stability of the food market, and our employees – the heroes from the shadows who are on the front line – enabled our citizens to live a more or less normal life.

In such challenging and changed working conditions, we have provided adequate protection measures at the workplace for all our employees with permanent support, transparent information and education. The previous period encouraged us to find new ways to empower, motivate employees and be there for them at all times. To this end, we actively used the internal application “We are Lidl”, where we exchanged all important information, but also words of support and encouragement. While employers struggled to preserve business results, they were expected to provide full support to employees and consumers.

This year has confirmed to us that the full support of employees can be counted on by those employers whose people are always in the first place, in all circumstances, and the company Lidl is one of the best examples of that.

  • Lidl takes the training of its employees very seriously, even before they officially start working in their position. It is an interesting process in which they spend a certain period, e.g. in Lidl in Great Britain or the Czech Republic, where they learn how the entire supply chain, sales, etc. works. Could you explain to us what the training of one employee looks like, from the interview to the first official working day?

The time dedicated to each new employee for introductory training and introduction to the job is extremely important for both the new employee and the company. With a basic approach to empowering employees, starting from the first working day, we develop a sense of belonging of employees, but also achieve top results. The training system prepared for each job, with dedicated mentors and trainers, is what we offer to all our newly hired colleagues. Each training is tailored to the requirements of the specific job and contains a theoretical part, related to Lidl’s procedures and business standards, as well as practical work on the job, under the guidance of a supervisor, coach and mentor. If it is necessary for efficient work performance and thorough education, new employees can acquire this training outside the borders of Serbia, in one of the countries where Lidl operates.

  • What is the most valuable lesson that HRs have learned from the previous year? What has changed in corporate culture?

Although we thought that the changes had already entered our bloodstream and that we had already brought that skill to a very high level, last year showed us that we still have a lot of room for development in this area. Through all the challenges, we realized how strong we are – learning by walking together, creating new ways and channels to maintain the much-needed human connection. We learned how to overcome the imposed physical distance. I emphasize: “physical”, as opposed to “social”, because together we learned how to be together and separate, putting health and safety first, but not forgetting the importance of cooperation and inclusion in the team. We are all going through such a big change for the first time and at this moment I think we can be proud of what we have achieved as teams.

Corporate culture, as a social amalgam that connects employees in a company, has come to the fore more than ever. We see its strength and deep foundation through the way we work and collaborate, how creative and innovation-oriented we are, how much we are able to take personal responsibility, of course, and through the excellent results we continuously achieve.

STARA PAZOVA 10.06.2020. Lidl, central, old groove. RAS photo by Mitar Mitrovic

  • More than 70% of positions in the human resources sectors around the world are held by women. Do you think that they have certain “predispositions”, such as empathy or social skills, that make them destined for that?

As a woman in business, and also as a mother, wife, friend, I don’t like to talk about stereotyping groups. In our HR team, in which the ratio is, in fact, 50:50, I have a lot of arguments to claim that the predisposition for work is only in the person. I am proud of my wonderful colleagues, who with their desire, love for the work they do, dedication and energy make us progress every day, which shows a series of successfully implemented projects and initiatives crowned with certificates through certificates in the previous year, despite all challenges. got.

  • What is the best advice you, as an HR, give to your employees?

Today, we talk a lot about maintaining health and responsible behavior, but if we put that aside for a moment – surprisingly, the advice has not changed much. Personally, my advice always goes back to some of the basic human values: honesty, respect, contribution and, finally, satisfaction – with yourself, work, circumstances, team, private opportunities ći Guided by these or similar personal values, each individual takes for himself responsibility and gives himself the opportunity to achieve all that. And a satisfied person is also a satisfied friend, parent, employee, esteemed and successful member of every team.

Source: BIZlife store

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