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Published: 3 month

We can forget that in the future we will only compete for employees in the local market - interview with Ákos Kalmár, National HR Manager of Continental Group

In terms of HR indicators, Continental Group Hungary had a successful year in 2023: their unwanted turnover decreased significantly compared to the previous year. However, keeping track of labour market movements, including the employment of third-country nationals, remains a challenge for the company. We spoke to Ákos Kalmár, HR Director of Continental Group Hungary, about the details of this, job change trends and the use of artificial intelligence.

Kalmár Ákos, Continental-

What are the most important strategic tasks and objectives of HR today? What is the status of the development/practice of the national HR strategy, which you said you were working on in 2020?

We have done a lot of work over the last two years. I'm proud to say that we have a great long-term HR strategy in place and its implementation is well underway. Its fundamental aim is to maximise the competitiveness of our employer brand. The difficulty in achieving this is the diversity that characterises our company, two of which I would like to highlight.

On the one hand, we are present in different parts of the country where we need to be competitive locally. Here, we simply had to recognise that in addition to instant solutions, we need to provide enough freedom of action for our locations. On the other hand, our employee/candidate groups are also very diverse, from trainees to senior managers. Each of these groups of workers has a different employee experience and a different perception of what makes a job competitive


What are these indicators? How do labour market movements affect the firm? In which areas is recruiting more difficult or has it become easier?

We have observed an interesting trend over the past 2 years, where the market has reacted very differently to a similar inflationary environment in 2022 and 2023. In 2022, the rising cost of living pushed workers to switch even more, making it even harder to attract and retain workers. This trend should give companies cause for optimism, but it is certainly worth being realistic. Are companies performing better or has the market environment simply helped them out when it comes to retention issues?

Worth mentioning here is the turnover of intellectual colleagues, which is now almost catching up with that of physical colleagues. This is an issue that needs particular attention because the loss of competence due to intellectual colleagues is much more painful for the organisation, and the time and cost of replacing and training them is much higher. Forget about competing for white collar workers in local markets, it is precisely because of flexible working opportunities that the market and competition is now clearly national, and wage differentials in in-demand professions are disappearing.

Recruitment, however, has been similarly difficult in both years, with Continental not seeing any meaningful change in this area.

High absenteeism rates have been a particular problem in the physical area in recent years, but we have seen a decrease in 2023, which I believe is (also) due to the fact that in a high inflation environment, employees are much more aware of the issues of job presence, which also affect their income.

How much of a problem is it to attract and retain higher skilled workers (engineers, technicians)?

With regard to attracting and retaining engineers in the classical sense, we must unfortunately reckon with a fundamental decline in the popularity of the profession.Research and development (R

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