We utilize the potential of many skilled individuals through part-time employment, said Eva Vodenkova for TOP IT Employers

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March 31, 2023

Take a look at the interview in which Eva talks about the challenges of family businesses and unlimited home offices, part-time jobs, and changes in the education market. The interview was published in the TOP IT Employers supplement of Computerworld magazine.

With a turnover of over 700 million CZK and more than 400 employees, OKsystem represents certainty and stability, but corporate habits have no place here. According to Eva Vodenkova, HR and Operations Director, the company relies primarily on its employees, adopts an open-door policy, and values individual approach and friendly relationships.

OKsystem is a significant, yet still family-owned business. Do you see this as an advantage or does it also have drawbacks?

There are two sides to every coin, but in my opinion, the advantages significantly outweigh the challenges. Stability, tradition, flexibility, and independence are the first things that come to my mind. The management in family businesses share similar values and goals that extend to employees. You run the company with family members whom you know well and can rely on. You don't have to hide anything and can get to the core of the problem more easily. This applies to us, and it's crucial for me in my work. Some limitations may arise from a lesser emphasis on decision-making within the company. As they say, too much of everything is harmful, which also applies to all employees' "family" perception. At OKsystem, friendly relationships and an individual approach prevail throughout the entire company.

Does it pay off?
We see our employees as a long-term value of the company, we value them and invest in their development. They have the opportunity to grow, and the vast majority of our managers have worked their way up to their position. I myself started as a part-time receptionist and worked in the sales department for several years before becoming HR director. We believe this is a good way to find and retain key people. We've been operating this way for over thirty years, I've known many of our employees since they were young and I can rely on them and they can rely on the management. I believe that the majority of my colleagues, as well as myself, enjoy coming to work.

Recent years have been turbulent in many ways. Has it also had an impact on the work of HR professionals?
People are the main driver of any company's success. Everyone is aware of this today, even with regard to the current state of the labor market. The work of HR professionals has really changed over the last few years of turbulent changes in terms of approach and new working standards. Not only in the way of working but also in the perception of the importance of this role in the organization. The days when an HR professional was a mere administrator are long gone. His role has moved to a strategic, partnership level, often to the closest management of the company. The education system is also responding to the growing need for quality people in HR by creating new fields of study. We are already active in this direction.

Could you be more specific?
We are a partner of the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Economics. By inviting students to join us for Innovation Week, we have the opportunity to share our experience with digitizing HR processes, while also preparing a new course in collaboration with the school to introduce future HR specialists to the latest trends in the field. In return, we get valuable feedback and an unbiased user perspective, which is also important for us in terms of guiding the development and improving the user-friendliness of our OKbase HR solution. As an IT company, we are naturally active towards university students of computer sciences. As regular participants in job fairs, we recognize the value of investing time and resources into the development of students through part-time employment opportunities during their studies.

Do you see any changes in the education of IT professionals?
The IT industry is rapidly evolving, and the demand for IT professionals is continuously increasing. In response to this, the education market is adapting to provide more diverse and interesting IT programs. It's fantastic to see that these programs are no longer limited to traditional school curriculums, with a growing number of requalification and professional development programs catering to economically active individuals seeking to become IT professionals. In our company, we are proud to collaborate with organizations such as Czechitas, which focuses on educating women in IT. Our colleague Filip Jirsak works as a lecturer in their Digital Academy. Thanks to his contributions, several female graduates of the program have found their first IT opportunities in development or testing, and some have even joined us on a part-time basis.

So, you're not opposed to part-time positions?
On the contrary, we recognize the potential of many skilled individuals who are unable or unwilling to work full-time, and we actively seek to leverage their talents. Part-time positions are particularly popular among students, parents of young children, and those who are still actively working during retirement. This approach results in teams that are diverse in terms of age, gender, and experience, which is a significant benefit. As someone who worked during my studies and parental leave, I can personally attest to the advantages of this arrangement for both parties. We also tailor our offices to suit different employee groups, with features such as a children's play area, which is a popular choice among parents who can work while keeping an eye on their children. For us, the most important factors in candidate selection are potential, enthusiasm, and willingness to work, while the size of the contract is negotiable.

In recent years, the trend of almost unlimited remote work for IT professionals has emerged. How do you approach this trend?
Working remotely places a far greater responsibility on organizing work, leading, motivating, and developing work teams, as well as securing communication and corporate data. Despite initial uncertainty and concerns, this step has paid off for us. Our employees appreciate our trust and their engagement has increased. I am very pleased that after some time, some are returning to work more in the office on their own initiative. This is possible because we maintain individual workstations for each employee in all our branches, which we consider as one of the benefits.

But don't you lose the opportunity for personal meetings, which are important for maintaining informal relationships?
Personal contact with employees is and always will be irreplaceable. That's why we actively create opportunities for work and social gatherings. We discuss the needs of managers in one-on-one meetings, new colleagues give us valuable feedback at the end of their trial period, and coffee breaks in the kitchen are also beneficial for team bonding. We offer a range of work and leisure activities to employees, including regularly shared breakfasts, managers' trips, team-building activities, big company-wide events for employees and their families, as well as a variety of smaller events that appeal to different audiences.

For example, last year we transformed our director into an ice cream vendor for a few hours and had them stand behind the freezer counter. Employees also come up with ideas and personally contribute to the preparation of various events, which works great for CSR activities, for instance. When it comes to coming up with similar events, there are no limits to our imagination. It's good to keep an eye on trends and be inspired by our surroundings, but we shouldn't forget the uniqueness of every company, its culture, and its employees. We discuss every such project with our employees and co-create them together. I consider the broad involvement of colleagues in accepting and achieving results to be crucial.

When you talk about benefits, what are your most popular ones now?
I believe that candidates are interested in the interesting work on projects, open corporate culture, opportunities for career growth, and our approach towards them. Benefits are the proverbial icing on the cake. We offer standard benefits such as the previously mentioned home office, meal vouchers, multisport card and other similar cards, pension insurance, and free coffee. Employees appreciate the opportunity to park in our garages, they also enjoy using our company canteen, and when needed, the children's play area.

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