REady to REcharge Working Patterns: Serbia Zühlke’s New Flexible Jobs
In today’s complex and fast-paced world, balancing work, personal life and other commitments requires more than just a delicate balancing act. Sometimes, what’s also needed is the flexibility and agility to adapt as priorities change.
This increasing need for flexible career options became apparent to the team and Aleksandar Marjanovic, CEO of Global Delivery centers in Zühlke Serbia. They recognised the growing disparity between current employee benefits packages and what his employees actually needed. To ignore it would be short-sighted. So, in early 2019, Zühlke Serbia’s REcharge and REady packages launched. The program offers careers with flexible hours for employees based on their needs.
REcharge allows employees to reduce their working hours while still enjoying a full set of benefits. The system provides employees with the option of reducing hours down to 80 or 60%. The package suits those who want to balance childcare, study, travel, or even just having more free time to pursue other interests.
Meanwhile, REady rewards employees who want to take on an additional workload while providing them with regular support from the company. The package allows employees to work more and increase their earnings while receiving regular vacation, development budget and employee benefits.
REsourcing for careers with flexible hours
Aleksandar and his team realised they needed a new compensation package that differed from competitors. Something more meaningful than free fruit or a football table.
They spent weeks researching the motivations of employees. Until they realised, there wasn’t one unifying solution, as you’d expect, the needs of employees differed from individual to individual.
But a trend emerged with most employees falling into one of three categories: some wanted more time, some wanted more money and some wanted balance. And finally, the solution became apparent: flexible career options.
Typically, programs of this scale take at least a year to adopt, but the team delivered it in just two months. However, delivering the program was an undeniable struggle, involving hours of thankless paperwork, meetings, phone calls and many iterations. And to ensure the program’s success, they interviewed test groups of employees and made projection models to predict outcomes.
Still, they faced many obstacles along the way. First, it was hard to get the entire company on board and it inundated them with legal work. But the greatest challenge of all was communicating the program transparently and honestly to the company.
REcharging employee satisfaction with flexible career options
Aleksandar, HR and Management team knew that as early adopters of flexible career options the initiative would have certain flaws that new programs of its kind often have. This didn’t discourage them. Instead, in traditional ‘Zühlke transparency’ style, they invited employees to alert him to any potential faults.
Six months after the program launched, owing to continual internal feedback, the package improved. And the support and feedback for the program was also a success. Many appreciated the hard work that went into delivering the package. But they were most grateful for the freedom of choice it offered.
And crucially, the program reduced turnover rates. In the past, if employees wanted to reduce their hours, they may have had to look elsewhere. But now, with increased flexibility, they can stay. Employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity and loyalty have increased too. Financially, the project was a success for Zühlke, customers and employees. Here’s what some employees had to say:
“I am working on my master thesis and have other hobbies and interests besides programming that I wanted to pursue, so reducing work hours was just what I needed. Also, with this package, I have more time to spend with my family and my dog.” said Jana Protic, an Advanced Software Engineer who took the REcharge program.
Meanwhile, Djordje Madic, an Expert Software Engineer, who took the REady program, said, “REady is an ideal opportunity for me to develop more by focusing and dedicating to my project activities. A challenging environment is always helping you grow more. It’s great that Zühlke adopted and created this option because it suits my needs.”
REady for the future of careers with flexible hours?
Delivering a flexible career options program is an exhausting process for any business, let alone a multinational corporation. And while it’s easier to offer employees a free gym membership, Aleksandar shouldered the short-term burden in favour of the long-term view. Careers with flexible hours aren't just an attractive working package. They’re the future of work.
Although Zühlke Serbia had to weigh up careers with flexible hours after being placed in a position that forced them to consider it, Aleksandar believes it was for the best. Flexible jobs offer a far more sustainable working model than the traditional 9-5, and most importantly, it caters to the individual.
In the future, every home will have a home-working space, co-working spaces will proliferate and employees will have greater freedom to choose when, where, or how they fulfil their duties. Zühlke Serbia may be an early adopter of flexible career options, but many more will follow.
Aleksandar Marjanovic is responsible for growing Global Delivery Centers (GDC) to support the needs of our people in GDC and customers across all Zühlke locations. He is a Partner and a member of the Group Executive Committee.