Suzana Tihi-Babić, HRM director at Addiko Bank Sarajevo: „We invest significant efforts into making sure our employees are happy and satisfied“
Addiko Bank Sarajevo, under this name, and as part of the Addiko Group, has been operating in the Bosnian market for five years now, offering and promoting a straightforward approach to banking, which is a rather unusual approach, both in the local and regional market. Their goal is to ensure clear and simple banking. They emphasize that they are capable, committed and expert in providing key products and services of the Bank in the simplest way. They focus on the essentials and prefer to do fewer things perfectly than more things adequately. They emphasize that this means that only the key products that provide the greatest value to customers are important to them, and that they are efficient and focus their energy on convenience and comfort for the customer. In communication, Addiko Bank is simple, and uses the simplest terms for its products and procedures to ensure that everyone understands them equally. Therefore, in many ways, it is a special bank on the Bosnian market.
We talked with Suzana Tihi-Babić, their HRM director, about business and HR projects that are in their focus for the coming period.
You are the first bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Employer Partner (CEP) certificate. What are the key advantages of Addiko Bank as an employer and what does this recognition mean for you as a bank?
We are extremely proud to be the first in the banking sector to receive the Employer Partner certificate and thus confirm the quality of our approach to people. We see this recognition as a confirmation of our many years of efforts to be different and better. Our approach is, at least when we define it, very simple. It basically states that people are the beginning and the end of everything, the strategy and results and the whole business depend on them. Only happy and satisfied employees can successfully work for the benefit of the company in which they work. Although this sounds simple and easy in theory, in practice it is much harder to implement. Nevertheless, we make significant efforts to keep our employees happy and satisfied in their workplace and to make sure they see us as a partner they can rely on at all times.
What advice would you give to potential job candidates at Addiko Bank? What are some key characteristics you always look for in a candidate when hiring?
When choosing future colleagues, it is important to us that our organizational values coincide with the values of the candidates. In addition to the fact that the candidate should possess the required functional knowledge and skills, integrity and character are crucial. Experience tells us that you can develop those who want to learn, and that, unfortunately, the problem of integrity, unacceptable attitudes and character is usually difficult to solve.
I would advise potential candidates to be honest in the interview and to prepare for the interview by at least learning the basic information publicly available about the company. We are looking for candidates who are responsible, willing to cooperate and perform tasks efficiently.
As a company, you pay a lot of attention to promoting employee wellbeing. Can you tell us a little more about your initiatives in this area and explain how you ensure employee wellbeing in these pandemic conditions?
The protection and health of employees is our absolute priority. In particular, in these pandemic conditions we undertook all possible activities right at the beginning, in terms of procurement of plexiglass partitions for colleagues in all our branches, protective masks, gloves, disinfectants, teams worked in shifts, we shortened working hours – in short, we adapted to the epidemiological situation.
Colleagues working at the Bank's headquarters are able to work from home in order to minimize the risk of infection. We intensified communication via e-mail, in cooperation with colleagues from Corporate Communications with the aim of timely informing our employees on everything, but we also prepared a lot of motivating and entertaining content to make this challenging period easier for our colleagues. Since this COVID-19 situation carries its own risk in the psychological sense, we also organized a series of lectures by psychologists and other experts, which caused a very positive reaction from employees. We provided healthy meals and drinks to our colleagues in the branches, and we delivered healthy gifts to our colleagues who unfortunately suffered from COVID-19.
Which HR projects from the past year are you most proud of, and which have proven to be the most challenging? What will you, as an HR department, focus on in 2021 and what do you think will be the biggest challenges for HR departments in general this year?
The past year has been a year in which all plans have changed and a year in which we have re-examined our ability to adapt to change and manage in crisis situations. I would not single out any project, I would say that I am most proud of the entire team of Addiko Bank because we managed to maintain all business activities in these extraordinary circumstances, to be available to our clients, and we in the HR team available to our employees.
In 2021, we have a number of activities, the year began with the successful completion of certification for the Employer Partner certificate, we are continuing with the Internal Knowledge Transfer program. In general, this year we will focus on training and development activities, and we are just nearing the end of the performance management cycle. If the epidemiological situation allows it, we plan an entire series of activities that will further strengthen teamwork and communication.
And when it comes to challenges for HR departments, I would generally say that it is work organization and communication about working conditions from home, digitalization, attracting and retaining talent, and employer branding.
In what direction do you think HR will develop in the future? What are some key changes you would expect in the next few years in the ways you work and in the ways you manage employees?
Changes have already begun and I expect them to continue in the coming years in terms of work organization from home, flexibility, agility, employers will continue to strive to create the best "employee experience", to attract and retain the best talent, more and more attention will be paid to employee mental health. What makes me especially happy is the new leadership, which we in HR need to support and develop. Additionally, I expect a stronger role for HR as a business partner in general.