Changing the corporate climate in Croatian Post

Mario Bebic, executive HR director of Croatian Post, spoke to Mail & Express Review about preparations being made ahead of the opening of the Croatian postal market in 2013. Croatian Post has been confronted with similar business, organisational and corporate challanges to many other postal operators worldwide.

As part of a restructuring process which began in 2009, our goals are to turn Croatian Post Inc. into a modern postal operator by securing market position, implementing HR processes and projects with experienced and professional employees, and creating new management and a new organisation based on four divisons: Post, Network, Express and Support.

HR goals are directed to preparing Croatian Post for full market liberalisation in 2013. One of the main objectives is the selection of high quality employees consistent with the new strategy. In addition, our focus is on:

  • A clear division of work;
  • A shallow organisation and the abatement of the complex hierarchy pyramid;
  • Training employees for market challanges;
  • The additional education for all resources;
  • A corporate climate improvement;
  • And, improvement of internal communication.

Measuring employee satisfaction

It is well known that a satisfied employee is a good and productive employee, so we believed it was important to find out how our employees saw Croatian Post, how did they feel working in this environment, what was the level of their job and work climate satisfaction, how did they perceive the management, and what did they think about internal relations and communication?

The HrOk questionnaire was developed by the Slovenian consulting firm AtAdria and has been used since 2002 by a large number of companies in Slovenia, Croatia and other nearby countries. It was designed for tracking organisational climate and job satisfaction using the principles of comparability, periodicity and quantitativity.

In 2008 the work climate in the Croatian Post was significatly below the average of the public sector in Croatia: 2.64 for the post compared to 3.11 for the public sector. So, one of our most important strategic goals was to achieve employee recognition of Croatian Post as a pleasant and encouraging workplace such that by the end of 2012 we would reach the Croatian public sector average of 3.11 points. To achieve this, we had a lot of work ahead of us.

First steps

Many projects and changes were initiated. We formed the Croatian Post Academy for professional education of area managers and executive directors. We also completed the selection of new middle managment so, as part of reorganisation, a new managerial position of area manager was created.

About 800 employees, potential candidates, were evaluated and psychologically tested. From about 300 interviewed, 140 area managers were chosen.

We also created and selected mentors for postmen, more experienced collegues who teach new postmen how to work and to be good at their jobs and who also help existing postmen to improve their efficency where needed. We formed another new work position, that of internal trainer, within the Professional Development and Training Department, whose task was to support the entire Croatian Post by participating in professional training and development of all employees.

Internal professional development helps to save considerable amounts of money since it is not necessary to constantly co-operate with outside providers of professional development services.

We organised professional support for our employees. Croatian Post’s Office of Legal Affairs formed a team which offers legal counseling for all employees. Every workday, employees may phone in or e-mail their inquiries which will be answered within just two days.

Improving communications

To improve internal communication, we created Vaša poštaYour post – which is a magazine written by employees for employees.

Once a month, the magazine is delivered to the home of every employee, bringing relevant news. But it is not just a news source.

Apart from its informative nature, it also seeks to entertain the reader by offering varied postal related content. Furthermore, and this is the most important aspect of the magazine, it puts the employees into focus, giving them a space for their stories, thoughts and ideas to be heard.

Of course, one way communication is pointless and is something that Croatian Post would not agree on.

Another key element of internal communication in the Croatian post, apart from the magazine, is therefore “Moja pošta – My post”.

Employees have questions, or problems that need dealing with, either concerning themselves or the company in general.

Sometimes they ask for advice and sometimes they offer advice on how to improve the company.

“Moja pošta – My post” is a way for employees to get answers, advice and information from the company’s administrators. Every workplace in the company receives envelopes designed for this purpose and every employee has the right to send in questions, comments or problems which are then published, along with the answers, in the magazine. Employees naturally have the right to remain anonymous.

The project started in December 2009 and is ongoing with no end date.

With this simple yet effective means of communicating, we have established a popular and trusted way for people to say what is on their mind and come into contact with the people who are leading the company.

Other initiatives

We have implemented continuous testing of professional knowledge.

About forty tests involving written examination of knowledge were prepared. Testing of almost 8,000 employees was carried out at their places of work and covered the whole territory of Croatia. This check of an employee’s professional knowledge is performed systematically throughout the year for all new employees after they have have spent at least five months in the company.

One of our crucial assignments was to match job evaluation results with payments in Croatia. We want to ensure that every employee is fairly paid for his or her work. That is firmly associated with the career development plan which we have instituted.

The aim is to put an end to the practice that higher and better paid positions tended to be occupied by employees coming from outside of the company. This of course provoked much dissatisfaction among existing employees.

A further very important goal which we have accomplished was to reduce average sick leave from 24 days to 15 days per employee, saving approximately EUR 3.5m.

The latest questionnaire results

The HrOk questionnaire was applied once more in 2010 and the results were even better than expected.

The organisational climate score in Croatian Post reached 3.15 which is now even better than the average of the Croatian public sector. It meant that in 2010 we had already ecxeeded our strategic goal set for the end of 2012.

In comparison with 2008, significant improvement was evident in all measured dimensions: job satisfaction, HR systems, career development, internal communication and information, professional skills and learning, rewarding, knowledge of the mission, vision and goals, organisation, leadership style, motivation and involvement, internal relations, innovativeness and initiative, organisation commitment, and attitude towards quality.

The results also indicated our strengths: our employees are the most satisfied with Croatian Post’s attitude towards quality, organisational commitment, innovation and initiative, and internal relations.

They are also generally satisfied with leadership style, motivation and involvement, organisation and knowledge of mission, vision and goals.

We still have room for improvement in rewarding, opportunities for improving professional skills and learning, internal communication and information, and career development.

In comparison with other state owned companies in the country, Croatian Post has made significant improvements such that our organisational climate is better in all dimensions.

And one of the most popular and respectable web portals in Croatia identified the post as one of the most attractive employers, in 17th place.

Next steps

Based on these results, we have formed our new strategic plan. Currently we are working on improvements in leadership style.

Our goal is to implement a participative style at all levels of management. We are also trying to encourage more involvement in educational programmes by employees. We plan to have work meetings where people can find out information not just about their own department, but also about other parts of our organisation.

It is important for us to ensure career development of our employees through clear criteria for promotion which are consistently communicated and applied.

Winning recognition at the World Mail Awards was a big compliment for us, but we are very well aware that we still have a lot of work to do.

So our recent HR strategic goals include further development of managerial competencies; implementation of the HR Business partner model; creation of procedures to enable us to attract, retain and develop top talent; improving the quality of the selection process for middle and top management; and implementing high quality IT support for all HR processes.

Our main goal is to change the business culture towards a high performing business model in which people can achieve all of their potential.

This article is drawn from the September 2011 issue of Mail & Express Review, which offers insight and analysis from postal operators and express specialists around the world.

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