Everything indicates that the coming year will be full of challenges for Polish employers, such as employing foreign nationals, which is presently being determined by the war in Ukraine. Since February 24, the day the conflict began in Ukraine, almost 3.16 million refugees have crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border, comprising mainly women and children.

How will migration affect the labour market in Poland? How to build employer awareness in the context of the hiring of foreign nationals? The answer to these questions, and much more can be found in an interview that Alicja Klitenik — Diversity & Inclusion Leader – conducted with Agnieszka Zielińska — Director of the Polish HR Forum.

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The benefits of employing foreign nationals

Alicja Klitenik: How to create employer awareness in the context of building multicultural teams? What, in your opinion, are the benefits to Polish businesses from hiring foreign nationals, and in particular given the current shortages on the Polish labour market; which probably won’t get better any time soon?

Agnieszka Zielińska: Diversity management has been with us for a long time. Companies that learn this lesson will find it easier to adapt to managing increasingly multicultural teams. Today businesses understand the upside of diversity. Creating a work environment in which each person feels that they have an opportunity to develop their potential in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding increases the efficiency of the team, and indeed the entire organisation. As a result, employees become more engaged and create more innovative solutions. An openness to diversity will always reflect well on the employer, and make it easier to attract new candidates; and it will increase the trust of business partners. Companies open to diversity can push on and build a competitive advantage.

Policies for diversity

Alicja Klitenik: In the light of the armed conflict in Ukraine, what steps should be taken so that organisations can prepare for the smooth hiring of Ukrainian citizens?

Agnieszka Zielińska: Let us remember that employing the citizens of Ukraine or other countries is nothing new in Poland. Candidates from neighbouring countries have been supplying our labour market for years. Last year, nearly 1 million foreigners provided legal work in Poland. Many organisations, especially in the manufacturing sector, have long shown a readiness to hire foreign candidates. Companies have prepared information materials in their mother tongue, mainly Ukrainian, and they are supporting employees when it comes to organising accommodation, commuting to work, and the legalising of their employment. For this reason, many businesses, long before February 24, could boast tools for facilitating the employment of Ukrainian citizens. So we do already have a large set of good practices embedded in this area.


At this moment in time, candidates are people with a completely different profile than before the war; they are mainly women. Employers are making every effort to absorb this group, offering psychological support and help when it comes to finding accommodation, locating schools or nurseries for their children, not to mention the securing of language training. These are the most common forms of support that we are seeing. In the long run, companies must manage this process so that other employees in the company do not feel that a certain group is being favoured over the other.


Employing foreign nationals and skill sets

Alicja Klitenik: In what direction will the Polish labour market develop in terms of the future demand for certain skill-sets? And in the short term, how can we address the skill-set shortage?

Agnieszka Zielińska: The Polish labour market is strongly influenced by two mega trends: demography and technological developments. Our pool of employees in Poland is shrinking; and according to ZUS forecasts, by 2050 the number of people within the working age bracket will have dropped by 17%. Deloitte’s analysis also predicts that in 2030, 75% of employees will be younger than 35. So we will have fewer job applicants, and these applicants will be fairly young. On the other hand, the development of technology has redefined the scope of skill-sets that employers need. Automation accelerated significantly during the pandemic; and both the war and rising salaries have further strengthened this trend.

Market analysis has shown that, when it comes to concrete skill-sets, in addition to sales aptitudes, it is IT / digital, technical and engineering that will be most sought-after skills in the coming years. Companies will need employees with a high level of creativity, and with an ability to think outside the box. These same employees should also have an openness to change, and be possessed of an ability to adapt. Engaging with team work will also be important. Therefore, a real challenge awaits them. We cannot count on the sudden activation of nearly one million unemployed people in Poland, whereas the number of graduates is also set to decrease. Companies need to find different solutions. Sourcing applicants from other countries is one option. Building long-term skill-set management strategies will also be key moving forward. Reskilling and upskilling current employees, coupled with the appropriate management of their mobility within the organisation will also have to be a priority. Many companies have been making recourse to outsourcing solutions, delegating responsibility for some processes to outside entities. Employers wishing to increase the effectiveness of their recruitment processes will seek the support of recruitment companies. Temporary and commission contracts are also being indicated as viable solutions.

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Future labour market challenges

Alicja Klitenik: How to prepare Polish organisations for the challenges of the labour market in the future (e.g. demographic decline, generation Z, ageing society, migrations etc.)? What is worth focusing on when planning a long-term employment strategy?

Agnieszka Zielińska: First of all, you need to define the direction of the company’s development; its goals and the skill-sets that are necessary to achieve them. For the next step, it is necessary to diagnose what competency potential is out there at the given moment, and whether it is sufficient for achieving the assumed goals. As a result of reskilling and upskilling, and the transfer of employees within the organisation, will the company have secured an adequate resource pool of skill sets? The competition for talent will only intensify, so we need to think about company image, and how to strengthen it. This will make it easier to attract the right candidates, as well as enhancing cooperation with specialised recruitment companies. It is also worth considering whether all processes should be carried out on their own. In this instance, outsourcing solutions may prove to be the optimal solution.

Diversity Month in Devire

Taking the right steps when it comes to managing diversity is of utmost importance. That is why we have prepared a series of articles to help you better understand diversity management in an organisation. From there, we suggest what you should consider when creating a work environment that is both safe and inclusive, and focused on employee development.

Employing foreign nationals. An interview with Agnieszka Zielińska – Director of the Polish HR Forum is the second article in our series.

Find out how Devire implements solutions supporting diversity

At Devire, we believe that diversity is our strength, allowing us to look at challenges from different perspectives so as positively harnesses development and innovation. Join us today.