As our Turkey business grows, and our footprint in this market continues to expand, we thought it apt to write this article about the top 10 HR trends, currently seen in the Turkish market. This data has been collated from over 100 Country and Regional HR Directors, based in Istanbul, across multiple sectors including Telecommunications,Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Financial and Professional Services. A lot of these trends are challenges that HR leaders are currently facing; however, as you will notice, there are also some ‘wins’ for the evolving HR departments of Turkey.

1. Investment in Future Leaders

We have seen a significant and conscious effort, at board level, to ensure the future of many companies. What this means in practice is an increased investment in the development of leaders, primarily within larger organisations. Firms are now very conscious of equipping their future leaders with the tools to lead from the front, and set a good example for their teams. This often includes external executive coaching sessions, as well as attending management and/or leadership training programs.

2. The Changing Face of HR

Traditionally, HR has been seen as a very administrative and reactive function in Turkey. Although there is still a long way to go, many HR professionals have made considerable progress in ensuring their departments are more aligned to the strategic objectives of the organisation. With buy-in at the very top, many HR practitioners are now at board level, and are playing a proactive role in all ‘people matters’ in the organisation. Many HR Leaders in Turkey have enjoyed rolling out new initiatives across multiple divisions, which would have been a pipedream barely 10 years ago.

3. Employee Engagement

Attrition has been a real concern for employers within the Turkish market over the past few years. For whatever reason, employees have been dangled carrots to ‘jump ship’ and move to a competitor, or simply to try a new industry. HR Leaders have been making a conscious effort to counter this upward attrition trend, to ensure they retain their best talent. Employee Engagement programmes are continually being rolled out in organisations of all shapes and sizes, many of which have been designed by external consulting firms. There has been considerable improvement in attrition rates, as employees find themselves more engaged with and invested in their employers.

4. Generation X

As attrition rates begin to fall, the younger generation - unfortunately renowned for their lack of loyalty - are now more aware of economic conditions, and the effect these have on their future marketability. Gone are the days when junior staff leave for the sake of a few extra Turkish Lira each year, or a more senior title. Younger employees are starting to see the benefits of sticking with one company and adding value to – and for - their employers.

5. Increased Benefits

Employers are getting more creative with how they structure compensation packages by including minor, yet effective, benefits. This has dual advantages, as many of these provide tax incentives for employers, but they can also can be the sweetener required to hire the next future leader. Some of these perks include: mobile phones, vehicles (typically for manager level and above), lunch, gym memberships, transportation (shuttle service,) and other allowances. Some organisations also assist with outside work subsidies, such as car and home loans.

6. Flexi-Hours

Although Turkey is still behind the more developed economies on this, we have been noticing an upward trend in employers allowing more flexible working hours. Many have come to the realisation that employees can actually be more productive when they’re not bound to their work desk and chair. There are a number of firms who feel confident enough to allow their employees to work from home, or to leave work early some days of the week.

7. Employee Recognition

There are many company and industry awards on offer to the best talent across Turkey these days. This has provided further incentive for employees to ensure they’re constantly and consistently adding value in the workplace. In addition, many firms have now allocated budgets for Short Term Incentive (STI) bonuses to be paid for high achievers.

8. Team Bonding Sessions

As part of the Employee Engagement trend, many organisations in Turkey are now starting to offer incentive excursions, to promote team bonding. It is no longer enough to get a handshake or a pat on the back from the boss, after a hard day’s work. Some managers are now allocating budgets for incentive trips, which can be as long as three days away from work. Typically these are awarded to individuals or teams, who have exceeded sales targets, or other KPI’s.

9. Networking

More than ever, networking is proving to be the best form of industry collaboration. Industry leaders are often shaking hands with the competition at various events around Istanbul, at all levels. These are generally after hour’s events, both formally and informally organised. There are many country Chamber of Commerce organisations in Istanbul, where monthly networking sessions are conducted. This, in addition to university alumni committees who arrange industry events throughout the year, ensures the high flyers of each industry and functional experts are staying connected. HR events are not common practice in Istanbul as yet, but with the uptake of networking generally, perhaps they will be soon.

10. Employer Branding

In this highly advanced technology age, where business can be conducted remotely, with an Internet connection and a phone line, it seems employees are still prepared to commute long distances to secure employment with leading brands. Some firms, both local and international have positioned themselves in the Turkish market as ‘the employer of choice,’ and have employees who commute as much as 2-3 hours each way.

Many of these trends have already emerged in more developed countries, and it will be interesting to compare Turkey’s progress with these other more established economies. We are very optimistic about the business opportunity in Turkey and look forward to sharing further insights as the market evolves.