Head of HR for the Capital of Slovakia: more and more young people want to work for the city

Hrad Dunaj Ufo Lod

Several departments are going digital, civil servants go to work in jeans and trainers, they are not afraid to talk about long-overlooked topics, shares information with citizens, they talk openly about important issues and they have set up an innovation team and a lab that delivers effective digital solutions - no wonder the office is becoming an attractive workplace for young people too. We spoke to Martina Rothová, Head of Human Resources for the Capital City, to find out how the city's HR department works, what changes it is going through and which colleagues will fit into the team.

Can you tell us what the work in the HR department of the Capital City of Bratislava is like? Is it different in any way from an HR department in the private sector?

The HR department is in charge of the entire employee cycle - from applying for a position to an exit letter. I think the work is very similar to the private sector, but we have to be more mindful of the efficient use of finances, as well as distributing our care between departments that have completely different roles and agendas.


How many people work in the department and what are they responsible for (including the HR agenda for city municipalities)?

City municipalities do not have HR managed at the main City Office. I work with HR managers at the colleague/colleague level. There are 10 other staff members in the department who are responsible for recruitment, HR, training and of course payroll. At present we also have a colleague who covers the Metropolitan Institute Bratislava.


I have noticed that new positions are also being created at the municipality, for example, in the digital services department of the city. Are you planning to create any more new positions or have you already created them?

The organisational structure of the city is gradually changing. As of 1 January 2021, a major organisational change has taken place. The City is actively engaged in issues that were neglected or not dealt with at all until recently. Of course, natural development also brings new sectors. The need to create new positions, as well as changes in the job descriptions of our colleagues to reflect their future roles, to the needs of the city's residents and the projects we are currently working on.


Regarding the selection process itself, does it work differently for you than for private companies? For example, for some positions, , do you have a prescribed number of rounds and mandatory assignments and so on?

The selection process is probably closest to that in the private sector. We distinguish between internal and external selection processes and they always consist of at least two rounds. The perspective of HR is important, but also of the people who are already working on the issue. We often incorporate the solving of a case study into the selection process.


What does a job interview, the selection process, look like for a municipality?

I think the interview is unsurprising - we look at the experience of the candidates as well as their motivation to apply for the position for the Capital City. After the application period is closed, we invite the candidates who best meet our criteria to a personal (online at this time) interview - the first round consists of a supervisor and a teammate, the second round is a supervisor and HR. For senior positions I am present in person, for others positions my colleague who covers recruitment is present. There is a detailed discussion afterwards and we try to reach a final selection by consensus.


Do you feel there is a difference between an online interview and a traditional in person interview?

In an online interview, we are missing the overall personal impression of the candidate. Not everyone can present themselves well in front of a camera. We are all looking forward to getting back to "normal".


What kind of people will fit into your team? I suppose that a love of Bratislava is not enough... 😊

Just a love for Bratislava is not really enough, nor is the desire to get involved in something that has a deeper meaning. Bratislava has a lot of challenges ahead of it, that's why experience in the field, education, but also compatibility with the team is very important. It is difficult for individual players to work with us. The ability to function in a dynamic and changing environment is essential.


The mayor has brought a fresh dynamic to the leadership of the city. Are young people interested in working for the city?

Their interest is growing, which makes us very happy. But it doesn't mean that older candidates are not interesting or of value to us. On the contrary, there are many sectors where experience cannot be replaced by anything else.


There is perhaps an outdated perception of municipal officials smart, serious and formally dressed workers. What is the reality?

From my point of view, we now have such a healthy mix - we have young colleagues, colleagues who are professionally more experienced, but also those who, after years in the private sphere, wanted a change. I have to say that the workers are still here. Often, however, they are not formally dressed, but instead wear trainers, jeans and a backpack.


In positions that carry a great deal of responsibility, transparency in selection procedures is most important. In the words of Matúš Valla, you have managed to achieve this on the basis of personnel changes. What strategy are you pursuing from an HR perspective?

The issue of integrity is important to us, and especially for positions with a lot of responsibility, we put a lot of emphasis on references. At the same time, the more important the role, the more time we invest in putting together a quality selection panel that can assess the candidates, as we say, from every angle.

Under the leadership of the Mayor and his team, Bratislava is truly becoming a city where themes for the benefit of the citizen, nature and public space are at the forefront. What do you think is important to make the city feel like an EU capital?

I think it is important to create a city where residents and visitors find what they need: safety, quality infrastructure, cultural opportunities, all with an emphasis on environmental issues. The key is to open both the city and highlight unpopular topics and to be there for all groups of the population.


Our capital city is gradually going digital. It regularly publishes information for citizens. Are you planning a further move to make citizens more informed and to simplify their daily lives in the city's digital services department?

Yes, the city has several projects in the pipeline related to this topic.


Your department is not lagging behind in any way and uses modern digital technologies for hiring. Can you tell us how this works for you?

At the moment we are dealing with the digitalization of all HR processes. Our highlight is recruitment, where we have been successfully using the Nalgoo smart system for more than a year now - we have a better overview of candidates, communication has been simplified and last but not least, we are making  environmental savings as we have replaced CVs sent by post with email. At the moment we are working on digitising annual appraisals as well as contract renewals.


You have set up an urban laboratory and an innovation team that is coming up with new digital solutions. Have the results of their work brought any other positive changes to your department? 

At the moment we are planning a project to digitalise my department. I hope to have an answer by the end of 2021 😊.


If you could change one thing in the capital at a moment's notice, what would it be?

I am a rational person. I would like to see quality people involved in making changes in the city.

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