Randstad hungarian labour market overview 2020 – Trends in the Business Services Sector

Randstad asked their experts at Randstad Hungary about the most significant employee trends of the country, as well as about the potential outcomes of the current pandemic situation. What can one expect if they are looking for a position in this sector? To answer our questions here are the leaders of Randstad Hungary’s Business Services branch, Eszter Simonics-Dél Operations Manager, together with Branch Managers Dóra Várkonyi and Nikolett Chavot-Horváth.

What does the term BSS stand for?

The term is the abbreviation of Business Services Sector. Although, there are multiple names for organizations operating within this sector—including but not limited to Business Support Centre, Shared Service Centre (SSC), Centre of Excellence, Global Service Centre etc.

Most multinational companies typically own a number of subsidiaries all around the world. Upon establishing a business services centre, the organization decides on merging its certain business- and supporting functions both geographically and organizationally, into one regional or global services centre. These services centres are typically home to financial functions, customer care activity, and areas that support informatics, sales, acquisitions or HR. Their fields of activities, however are really diverse and versatile, with nearly everything from payroll accounting through network design to the highest level of engineering activities available.

Today in Hungary there are more than 110 regional and global business services centres, the sector employing over 46,000 people. Again, there are certain organizations that in addition to serving their own parent company, also care for other partners as well.

What are the characteristics of the Business Services Sector work environment and corporate culture?

Business services centres provide a highly inspiring environment: employees get the chance to work in modern offices, using the latest technologies. Within the sector, proficiency in English is a basic requirement, but oftentimes mastering a second foreign language is needed as well. The usage of foreign languages on a daily basis is not only called for by the nature of the work itself, but also in many cases the common language within the team, when communicating with foreign team members, is English. Colleagues supporting different countries are working side by side, in smaller or bigger teams, thus creating a dynamic work environment which provides the possibility of insight into each other’s daily routine.

The organizations within this sector pay special attention to securing a healthy work-life balance for employees, as well as to employees with a changed working ability, the role of women, and healthy lifestyle. The possibility of flexible work hours is also appealing, with certain positions the employees themselves deciding when and where to work, and multiple home-office days being supported within nearly every centre.

What tendencies can be spotted on the labour market right now, and what about layoffs?

Overall, when looking at how services centres have responded to the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we can say the picture is pretty diverse. There are organizations that are continuing to grow, and/or are conducting the filling of previously opened positions just as they did before the pandemic, then again others, where recruiting and hiring processes have temporarily stopped and staff establishment plans are being revised, furthermore, unfortunately we can sense a moderate amount of downsizing as well. The current extraordinary situation is slowing down organizations that are planning on expanding their functions in Hungary, but it won’t stop them altogether. Even if it will require the right amount of patience and thinking through, new functions and market participants will be arriving, given the fact that when it comes to establishing a new services centre, Hungary is always strongly present on the map.

In what ways has the current pandemic affected the most recent trends?

In our experience, companies within the Business Services Sector were quickest in entirely transitioning to home office, and they did so the most seamlessly as well. Given that they were already used to employees working from home up to 2-3 days a week, the transition to full-time home office and even online onboarding and trainings was really quick.

Prognosticating trends in the current situation is really challenging, however there are predictions that suggest a growing tendency for Hungarian services centres. It is even possible that in the near future new functions will arrive to Hungary. Encouraged by the success of remote working, employers might allow more home office hours for employees, thus creating the possibility of reducing office spaces in the long run.

The sector at the moment is strongly Budapest-centred, with most of the highest paying positions being available here, and a high willingness to relocate among young people from other parts of the country, since they can expect more opportunities in the capital. And if full-time home office will remain a widespread practice in the future, then the number of potential candidates in the sector could expand further, regardless of their location.

In what ways has the current pandemic changed the process of recruiting?

Nowadays the recruiting process nearly everywhere is happening online, in the form of video interviews. The candidates must be prepared to show their knowledge, skills and personality through the camera. Our experience is that this has sped up the process of selection, as everything is happening much faster, than earlier, in the era of multiple stage personal interviews. This is certainly a positive aspect of the current situation.

In the case of many centres, a special interview technique is being applied, in the course of which the applicant demonstrates their aptitude through past situations. When preparing for the interview, candidates must think of examples that demonstrate their problem solving-, respectively, communication skills. Language skills are also being tested throughout the interview, even up to three languages—this can also happen in the form of a video interview.

What are the advantages of securing a job in this sector?

One of the most important advantages to this sector is that there are many positions that don’t require any previous professional experience, proficient language skills and the right personal competencies being the only requirements. Employees can indeed actively use foreign languages in this sector, especially in those positions, where oral conversation takes precedence over written communication.

We would also like to highlight the fact that in most services centres the areas of expertise are getting more and more complex. In the case of many organizations, employees have the possibility of working on end-to-end projects, that is, completing a task from beginning to end. Another important benefit is the balance and the plannability of the workload: while tourism and the catering industry for example are typically characterized by fluctuations in the workload, in an office position this is usually avoidable, which can be an important aspect for those with families.

In addition to the above mentioned benefits, services centres do also provide excellent career opportunities. Starting off at entry-level in the sector, one can walk a promising career path within a reasonable timeframe. Given the company sizes of hundreds of employees, anyone has the opportunity to test themselves in multiple professional areas without having to change their workplace. Thoroughly organized rotation programs are available to support internal transfers.

BSS employers also place great emphasis on supporting both personal and professional development of employees, with most workplaces offering professional-, language-, and soft-skill-development trainings to colleagues.

What can you tell us about pay grades and fringe benefits in this industry?

Employees can receive up to one and a half times the average entry-level salary. With the pay here being significantly higher compared to other sectors, securing a job at a services centre could lead to establishing a good living standard. Also, in addition to a good salary, there is a wide range of other popular benefits as well. Most companies support the public transportation passes, dining options, leisure/recreational activities and sports, as well as providing their employees with language- and other trainings.

Overall, we can say that the multinational, financially strong companies present in the BSS are able to provide the stability and security that employees need.

What are the most frequent misconceptions regarding the sector?

Although we are talking about one of the biggest employment sectors, public awareness of it in the Hungarian labour market is still not too strong. The precise nature of the job and the exact tasks are often difficult to understand for job seekers at the beginning of their career because of the too generally phrased job descriptions. And besides this, certain misconceptions suggest that this industry is typically characterized by particularly simplified tasks, without the outlook for any professional challenges whatsoever. But the truth is, that the more complex functions and processes, which require professional knowledge, represent the majority at services centres in Hungary, providing exciting positions and career paths for people working there.

In addition to services centres doing so, Randstad is also working on raising awareness as well as the popularity of the sector among both entrants and more experienced employees. When it comes to this industry, many have only encountered the term Shared Service Centre (SSC), and we also consider changing this, and making the entire spectre of the sector visible an important task.

What can you tell us about the current state of the Hungarian BSS job market as compared to the foreign markets?

Being a highly popular location when it comes to establishing a new centre in the region, Hungary is most certainly in the forefront, with Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania being our most important competitors. Well-trained workforce, the adequate infrastructure, as well as the central location and diverse language skills among the young are all very appealing to multinational corporations. Regarding the Business Services Sector, Hungary counts as a mature market, which among other things also means that we have highly qualified experts, together with increasing professional opportunities for the experienced workforce. Within the country, Budapest is certainly leading the industry, but Pécs, Szeged, or Debrecen are also worth mentioning, because thanks to the universities, these towns have a larger number of potential employees who speak foreign languages (even with native-like fluency).

In addition to language skills, what other competencies are required in these fields?

In addition to strong language skills (possibly more than one)—and in some cases a higher education degree—the most important aspect during the recruitment process is the existence of certain competencies. Strong communication skills, the ability to work in a team as well as independently, punctuality and precision are especially important. Communication with clients happens in writing or orally, and depending on the task itself there are different databases to work with, which means that the skills applied can often vary. Furthermore, another important aspect is that the employee has to be able to do well in an international environment, and work on more tasks at the same time, which makes the ability of prioritizing and efficient time management indispensable.

Is it worth applying for these jobs even if you are experienced in an entirely different field?

For career changers, and people qualified in other fields alike, it is worth applying for these jobs. In the case of many positions the dominant requirements are not those relating to knowledge, diploma or education, but rather language skills and the aforementioned personality traits and competencies. Besides, we can see a prevailing trend that more functions that require complex knowledge and experience are arriving to Hungarian services centres, which means that even applicants with many years of professional experience can find appealing opportunities in the sector.

Do BSS positions require individual training, or is this completely ensured by the employer?

The condition of getting hired to a services centre is that the candidate must speak the language they will be required to use during their work on a decent level. Nevertheless, development of the already existing language skills is supported by most centres. In the case of positions requiring specific professional experience, prior training and experience are expected, but with entry-level jobs the trainings are covered by the centre, the candidate receiving full support. This can happen in the form of online, or even practical training, i.e. job shadowing.

Overall, it is safe to say that either as an entrant or with many years of professional experience, the Business Services Sector (BSS) offers a wide range of career opportunities in the labour market. Corporations within the industry are placing more and more emphasis on talent management, educational collaborations and innovative solutions. If as an employee one would like to find a job in a dynamic, modern, multinational environment, then within the Hungarian services centres they are highly likely to find what they are looking for.

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