Rumiana Boseva, ARS Bulgaria: Employers Should Create Exceptionally Strong Model for Setting Goals and Evaluating Performance

This is the full speech of Rumiana Boseva, CEO, ARS Bulgaria, at the Best Employers Bulgaria: Award Ceremony 2023 (March 6)

Dear guests,

I would like to provide some information about the companies that have been recognized as Best Employers in Bulgaria, including an analysis of market trends and an explanation of our engagement survey’s methodology. This will help you understand why the success of these companies is so noteworthy.

It is essential to note that we request feedback from all individuals within the organization. The award is not granted based on financial indicators or any other tangible (business) metrics. Rather, it is presented based on the opinions of the employees. People are our most vital asset, and our business outcome relies on them. Regardless of how much automation we implement in production, ultimately, we depend on the human element.

The performance of employees is not constant, and people are not machines. Each one of our employees possesses unique qualities, strengths, weaknesses, and factors that motivate or demotivate them. The companies receiving awards this year have successfully established internal policies and a company culture that enables individuals with diverse personalities to collectively achieve shared business goals. It is these individuals who have provided the high ratings for their company environment. We, at ARS Bulgaria, are solely responsible for conducting the employee engagement survey.

One more aspect to keep in mind is that we are currently evaluating 20 factors of the work environment. The reason I mention “currently” is that this is not a fixed number. It is not flat, because the labor market is quickly evolving, leading to changes in what motivates and engages employees. The speed at which these changes occur is crucial, and many companies struggle to keep up. While in the past, the main engagement factors may have shifted every 4–5 years, now it seems it happens on an annual basis. This rapid pace means that policies need to be constantly updated, sometimes even before companies have had the opportunity to fully implement them. Quick adaptability to the changing circumstances is key to companies’ success in this dynamic environment, which is why we have recently introduced a new factor to our methodology – Agility. Agility is quickly becoming one of the most significant factors to measure in today’s’ business world.

Imagine, for a second, being a large corporation, which detects that decision-making becomes a slow and challenging process. Achieving speed in decision-making for large and complex organizations is an almost unattainable task. However, there is a solution – by implementing policies that promote adaptability and flexibility, you can create an agile work environment. In the years to come, the Agility factor will play a crucial role in employee engagement as it becomes the focal point of the companies’ overall approach towards their workforce.

Now, we are faced with another crucial question. Should we always adapt to accommodate and fulfill every request made by our employees? Numerous companies attempt to do so, but it does not necessarily result in higher employee engagement. In fact, at times, it has the opposite effect because it generates unrealistic and excessive expectations. Interestingly, this also contributes to the explanation for the lower employee experience score this year, compared to the previous ones, as our data indicates. The intense competition among employers for qualified work force has caused certain companies to establish unreasonably high expectations among individuals.

Is there a solution to this matter? Actually, there is, and the companies we have awarded the Best Employer title prove the point. It is not necessary to fulfill every single request made by your employees. However, there is one crucial aspect that must be clear in order to determine which requests should be granted. To simplify the study complex algorithm, I will attempt to explain it as straightforwardly as possible. The most significant outcome that arises from surveying all individuals within a company is the level of enthusiasm they possess towards coming to work and the actual amount of work they accomplish once they are present. Please do not misunderstand my point. There is a substantial amount of data supporting this conclusion, and it should not be regarded as a mere joke or irony. Despite the numerous jokes made in our region about work ethics, deep within the psyche of each individual lies the innate desire to be useful and contributing value. Naturally, we aspire to be useful not only to ourselves, but also to our families and the community to which we have a sense of belonging.

Over the years, the significance of the Brand factor as a leading indicator has been evident in showcasing an employee’s emotional attachment to the company, their sense of belonging, and their willingness to contribute. However, the importance of the Brand factor significantly declined a few years back, with the pandemic acting as a major catalyst. As people transitioned to remote work and the initial novelty wore off, their focus shifted towards personal priorities such as rest, travel, and household responsibilities. It is essential to acknowledge that while the pandemic accelerated this shift, generational differences had already set the stage for this change. In considering whether employers should cater to all employees’ needs, the answer is negative. Instead, the focus should be on establishing a clear alignment between the personal objectives of employees, the business goals of the company, and the strategies aimed at enhancing the employee experience.

In order to accomplish this task, it is crucial to possess an exceptionally strong model for setting goals and evaluating performance. Each and every employee should have a clear understanding of their contribution to the company and the objectives they need to attain. This is another factor that significantly impacts employee engagement. It is vital for employees to comprehend how and to what extent they should contribute to the company in order to fulfill their personal development requirements. The benefits the company provides to employees should align with both the company’s goals and the employees’ personal goals. A prime example of this is benefits, which must be flexible to cater to individual employee needs while also being aligned with the company’s business objectives. The most successful employers, such as the ones we have awarded this year, excel precisely at this crucial point.