Over the last few years, the economy of Uzbekistan has changed. The country is more active in attracting foreign investments while local companies are becoming stronger and stronger. Now, these very companies are looking further afield towards global expansion. For this, it is not just financial capital, but human capital, which is a key factor in pushing a business forward. In this new Uzbekistan, Artel is working to introduce new standards of human resources management.
Human capital is one of Uzbekistan’s main resources. With around 35 million people, Uzbekistan has the largest population in the entire region of Central Asia. According to the World Bank, around 18 million people are under 29 years of age, making Uzbekistan the youngest country all the way from Western Europe to Central Asia. As a result, the working population in Uzbekistan is set to grow by around 12% in the coming decade.
Despite the natural advantages of a young and growing population, a lack of jobs and unstable labour market can make youth apathetic and even force them to leave the country. The Uzbek government is putting a considerable funds into addressing these problems.
Five years ago, the country had a huge problem with this “brain drain”. While the average global rate of emigration was 5.25, in Uzbekistan it was 7.1 in 2007, and 6.0 in 2016. Now, in 2021, it’s dropped to the minimum of 5.20 points. Most of those that had left were those with the highest technical skills valued abroad, and those with the highest standards of education.
Yet the country’s economy is growing at such a pace that there is vast demand for qualified personnel here and now. The president and the government have been calling for all Uzbeks who have been working overseas to return, or help the country with their expertise while living abroad. In contrast, many businesses are relying on foreign specialists to fill the gap.
At Artel, as a manufacturer of household appliances and electronics, we see this lack of personnel in Uzbekistan particularly in technical fields. We know that people are our main resource, and to continue our expansion we know that we have to start investing in our employees and human resources.
Our company is a leader in staff training. Over the last 10 years, more than 6,000 workers been through various trainings, and we have trained leading specialists in sales, IT, technical directions, management and many other areas. All our staff are eligible for training, from factory workers to top executives. The training plan differs from employee to employee. From these trainings, the company has a clear understanding of who is more motivated and productive, and who are the candidates for promotion.
Recently, in conjunction with HR consultancy SHL, we undertook an independent management performance review and, off the back of this, prepared a two-year management training plan. In Artel, we consider management training a key element of our staff policy. Workers easily acquire corporate culture and values where their bosses can lead by example, and this has a positive impact on the efficacy level of the entire team.
Furthermore, we are in the process of opening our bespoke training center at the Artel Head office in Tashkent; the construction is already underway. Meanwhile, third party experts regularly provide staff online training for the Artel Academy.
The training programs that we’ve been implementing in the company have a multiplicative effect. First, many of Uzbekistan’s companies are interested in Artel’s experience; they try to replicate our success. Secondly, education has a powerful and positive effect on the society where we all live and work.
Artel has been expanding its presence on the market since 2011. Now, we are one of the biggest companies in Uzbekistan and we have enormous technological, economic, and human potential. There are around 9,000 employees in the company, both in Uzbekistan and other countries where Artel has factories or representative offices. To organize the operations of all these people, the company needs effective new methods of staff policy.
In Artel, digitalization in HR is a priority. Uzbekistan has just begun this process and we are still behind many other countries, which have used digital solutions for years. However, we are learning how to digitalize our business processes from international experience, including from our partners in those countries where we run our branch offices.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had started to implement digitalization. Now a significant part of communication between staff occurs online, while for decision making, staff evaluation and effective communications, a new type of software is required. For big companies like Artel with thousands of employees, this is absolutely necessary. Digitalization makes it possible to make accurate decisions about workplace operations based on a large amount of detailed information.
We are also focused on the automation of many of the processes linked to personnel evaluation and staff utilization. In conjunction with partners from SAP, we are introducing a new software solution called Success Factors to automate all HR processes and find solutions to raise the company’s efficacy. The solutions are already operational in some of Artel’s divisions but at the end of this year, the entire company will be covered with this system.
A workplace free of stereotypes
Artel is an international company, and we want our business to operate in line with global best practices. Transparency and inclusivity are the key principles of our work, and we have never shared commonplace stereotypes about women. Even though Artel is a manufacturing company and the majority of employees are men, we have a 70/30 gender balance. This figure is slightly bigger than the average rate of men (74%) and women (26%) in the private sector of Uzbekistan, according to the International Labor Organization. We want to improve our position in this field further.
In our company, we don’t only have female employees but also females in leading positions. So far, four women are part of the company’s top management and take key decisions.
We do not divide people by gender; we value high professionalism and hard work. We want more women to work in Artel because they can make the company more efficient. According to McKinsey, companies where staff is blended by gender are 33% more efficient than businesses where the vast majority of personnel are men or women. So gender equality is not only desirable for moral reasons, but for business reasons too.
In our company, we are also taking proactive steps to support women. Obviously, we respect all women’s rights written in the Labor Code. But additionally we have a women’s committee that looks for female leaders inside the company. Moreover, we are going to open a legal support office which will work to rise the legal literacy of women throughout our employees. We are taking proactive measures both internally and externally to promote gender equality at Artel and throughout Uzbekistan.