Seasonal staff shortages in Russia

29th of June 2012
Seasonal staff shortages in Russia

Oleg Popov of cleaning company Cristanval in Russia explains why the country's cleaning companies must deal with a shortage of staff each spring, and what kind of people join the industry as professional cleaners.

In Russia, working in the cleaning industry is not prestigious, in fact it is just the opposite – it is very difficult to find Russians, particularly Muscovites or Moscow area residents, to fill a vacancy as a professional cleaning operator. The overwhelming majority of the lower level personnel are migrants from the countries of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan).

Since 2000, when economic growth began in Russia, a flow of temporary work migrants from the countries of the former USSR was activated.  They took first the 'bad' work positions and the ones that are unattractive (low pay, difficult work conditions) for the Russian population.

Migrants necessary

Migrants travel to where there is work, and agree to the payment and conditions that are offered. In fact the local population does not apply for difficult and low-skilled work. The illusion of unfair competition for work from the guest workers is gradually receding into the past.

Migrants are necessary for the development of the Russian economy and support of demographic stability. Without large-scale migration, the population of Russia in 2011 would have been 7.5 million fewer people. The growth in migration has compensated for almost 60 per cent of demographic losses, since the mortality rate in Russia exceeds, as before, the birth rate.

It is interesting that a seasonal factor has a very strong effect on the presence of workers at work sites. This is connected with the fact that the countries of the former USSR, as well as Moldova and Belarus are agrarian societies - they depend on agriculture. And this means that when the
time comes for sowing, a mass exodus of staff begins. Each spring, all cleaning companies observe the same picture – the migrants leave their workplaces so they can plant their crops
at home.

Leave for the summer

A similar situation is also observed among the Russian staff. When the summer season arrives people quit, rent out their apartments and go to live for the summer at their dachas (second homes). And in the autumn, when it gets cold, they return to the city. Since there is always a lack of staff at work sites, they easily find new work.

Of course, in any department in any company, there is a natural turnover rate in the flow of staff. Cleaning companies know that spring is always accompanied by a shortage of staff, and prepare in advance. Recruitment professionals run additional announcements and advertising, and managers of work sites conduct motivational conversations with their best workers.

Much depends on the manager of a work site, and it is precisely this person who knows his workers well, and understands how he can retain them and what is important for them. But in time, it is easier to let them go home with the understanding that they will return in the autumn. If a manager understands what can be expected of the worker, then he will always come to a meeting of minds.


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