Dedoles, genuinely cares about the happiness of their employees. Kamil Reľovský, HR Director at Dedoles, revealed to us what care for the employees looks like. Apparently very good, as the company has been growing rapidly and is continuing to expand, even during the time of the corona crisis. Hundreds of employees in a variety of roles have access to training, their own library, a wide range of benefits and are given the freedom to express their individuality.
The "the sock that has no equal, cheerful socks that never match" are proud of their sock designs - designed for you by Polish and German designer, and a married Slovakian couple. The designs by the Slovaks have proven to be the most successful. What requirements should a designer meet if they want to design Dedoles products?
Dedoles has developed a recognisable visual style in a relatively short period of time. It is important for us to build on this foundation when we are creating new products. The designer should be able to identify our style and work in harmony with it. At the same time, we see it as a big advantage when people come up with their own ideas on how to improve the design concepts, how to innovate, introducing new ways of processing, for example prints or cuts or looking for new materials. All of this with the customer at the forefront so that at the end of the process we end up with a product that people feel comfortable with.
Does Slovakia have enough smart designers?
From my point of view, we have a lot of smart designers. This is supported by the fact that several designers, not only from the textile sector, are working in large foreign companies. On the one hand, this is a great achievement, but on the other hand, it would be great if they had more opportunities here at home in Slovakia. This is exactly what Dedoles gives them. When it comes to textile designers, three or four students graduate from university every year, so it is really questionable whether this is sufficient or not enough.
If I would like to apply for a design position at Dedoles, what would be awaiting me during the recruitment process?
The first step is assessing previous experience and examples of work through a CV and design portfolio. If we think the candidate is suitable, they progress to the next step, a creative task where the candidate is challenged to prepare a proposal for a new product. Successful candidates are then invited to a job interview.
The Dedoles company attracted people's attention with hamsters in socks dancing to a catchy song. The advert even enjoys a higher level of recognition than the Alza alien advert. Have you noticed this marketing element having an impact on people's interest in working for you?
In general there are less people in the job market. We have been able to fill some positions successfully and quickly. However, there are specific positions, for example in the IT department, that take more time and preparation to fill. A high level of recognition of our brand certainly simplifies these recruitment processes. We feel people react immediately to the company name.
Your plan is to double the number of employees, to 800 - 900, you have dozens of open positions, even during the corona crisis. That kind of growth certainly puts pressure on the HR department. Are you using any smart technologies to help you manage it?
Yes, the company is growing and with it the need for new employees. We receive a large number of responses and CVs every day. There are a lot of tasks and processes associated with the recruitment process until an employee comes onboard that need to be well managed. We are using two platforms which are helping us - the Asana (project system) and Nalgoo, which we use for the recruitment process.
I was interested in the recruitment management application. In practice what do you get out of using it?
It helps us track every step that happens with a candidate. At the same time, we are able to share necessary information effectively within the team. Nalgoo can cleverly link responses to different types of positions, so we can see the entire history of responses from candidates. It also allows us to assign a candidate to any other position, tracking each step of the selection process - from pre-screening to job offer. We also like to use our own personalised templates to help speed up communication with candidates. On the other hand, the system allows us to make both operational and strategic decisions by creating statistics and various reports from existing data.
During certain periods, for example before Christmas, you've experienced an increased volume of orders. Have you strengthened your staff in any way to cope with this? Alternatively, how have you dealt with this situation?
We normally recruit more people during the season, especially for our warehouse. This autumn, we are even opening a new warehouse of 15,500m2 in an industrial park in Senec. But the increased pressure starts much earlier, usually in autumn, and then, also with the arrival of Black Friday, we start to strengthen with additional staff. However, we are also currently recruiting dozens of people for various full-time positions, whether it is, for example, administration, product department or the aforementioned information technology.
Approximately half of our employees work at the logistics centre in Pezinok. However, the team is still growing. Some of the employees have moved to new offices in Bratislava. What departments are based here?
We moved into new offices in May this year. Due to our rapid growth, we had to find working space for about 180 employees in a relatively short time, so we were looking for a suitable solution. We decided to rent 1,200 m2 of space in the CBC II building. In the event of further growth, we have the opportunity to expand this space even further in the future. Our HR department, the product team, IT and marketing are currently based in the new office space.
Based on the increasing employee numbers, the corona crisis has clearly not affected the company's growth. Is there anything you've had to adjust?
Despite the corona crisis, we have seen rapid growth, in many areas. This has required continuous process development, the deployment of more advanced IT systems, automation in the warehouse, etc. We have had to adapt quickly to constant change. Managing a company with almost 500 employees is very different to managing a company with 30 employees. In addition, most of our new colleagues came to Dedoles during lockdown, which made it more challenging to adapt as they were unable to meet their new colleagues in person. However, gradually following the relaxation of lockdown measures, the situation improved and many teams have managed to enjoy some team building exercises so that colleagues can get to know each other.
Dedoles seems like a dynamic company that is always coming up with something new. If you want employees to keep up with new trends, they should be given appropriate opportunities for development and education, so that they can take on new changes and be competitive. Can you tell us what this looks like inside the company, for example also in terms of education?
At Dedoles, we place an emphasis on the education of employees. I'm not just talking about language training. Our colleagues can also expand their knowledge in other areas such as IT, marketing, MS Office... At the same time, we have created a library in the Bratislava office for those who want to do more self-development. We also give our colleagues space to develop their soft skills and hard skills through various training courses.
What development methods work best for you?
At the moment, a lot of our training activities are still conducted online. The aforementioned self-development works great for us (if we need to learn something), we also pass on interesting information within the team or even across departments. Trying or testing new things at work, daily, on-the-job, helps us. We provide each other with regular feedback - this is also an excellent and essential way to continuously improve. We support each other and learn from each other, actively looking for new trends that will improve our work or the work of our colleagues.
You have recently strengthened your structure with the addition of a sustainability manager. What do you hope to gain from this position?
If we want to conduct sustainable business, we have to put sustainability into daily activities and work, starting with the creation of products, the selection of suitable materials, suppliers, transport, waste management solutions, but also how we take care of our employees so that they are happy with us. The role of the sustainability manager is intended to coordinate these activities, to find solutions to ways we can improve, to strengthen the awareness of sustainability among employees. He is also responsible for CSR, i.e. various projects focused on climate crisis and protecting the environment. We are also dedicated to supporting disabled and socially disadvantaged people.
Dedoles - these are unconventional products. Who are the people standing behind them - the employees?
Just like our slogan for happy socks- everyone is different, but together we make the perfect team. However, Dedoles employees have one common denominator - passion for life and their work, a willingness to continuously improve, and thus push their colleagues too. It's such a living organism, where one part inspires the next, which inspires the next and this is how we are able to constantly develop and grow. Our product portfolio grows with us, and it is as bold as its authors. With us, there are no limits to creativity and imagination. And finally, we are currently operating in 21 European markets. And we hope it doesn't end with Europe :)
Some managers are of the opinion that it is better to design a company culture than to let it be shaped on its own. How does it work at Dedoles?
Even though we are already reaching a corporate in terms of employee numbers, our values highlight the uniqueness of each Dedoles employee. We understand that Dedoles has become a strong recognisable brand, after all, today almost 96% of Slovaks know of us. We try to use this strength of ours in topics that other brands might not want to go into because they would have to step out of their comfort zone. Most recently, it was the support of minorities, which our employees shared. They were proud of working for a company that openly supports the LGBT+ community. Therefore, we think that one of the reasons candidates apply to work at Dedoles is because they see the values we stand for and they can connect with.
If you were to express the Dedoles' company culture visually, what would that image look like?
A very interesting question, we have never thought of it that way. But certainly, the image should reflect dynamism, passion for what we do, playfulness and cheerfulness. And of course, the image should be colourful just as our Dedoles products are.
The company operates in 21 countries. Do you have any knowledge of different HR or recruitment strategies working abroad rather than here?
We currently operate in 21 countries, but we cover most of them from Slovakia and we have recently opened a headquarters in the Czech Republic. I think the Slovak and Czech markets are very similar, especially in terms of the recruitment process.