We are not close to big cities and therefore we needed to offer something more than the normal salary package.
Stricker's story could be made of romanticism only. A Jewish refugee fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe arrived in Portugal with the idea of moving to the other side of the Atlantic, but ended up falling in love with and marrying a Portuguese woman.
“Chance started a business similar to the one we had in Austria, but this time in Coimbra”, begins by telling Jorge Alcobia, CEO of Stricker. Relatively small for many years – in 2012 the company had a turnover of 8 million euros –, the transition from the second to the third generation led to the vision Paulo Stricker, the current chairman: Stricker from a completely different point of view, not only focused on Portugal (as before) but completely open to the world.
“In 10 years, we went from eight to 150 million euros in turnover”, says Jorge Alcobia, who heads the company that sells to 85 countries around the world.
Murtede's factory, Mealhada, is full of goodies. This is what makes Stricker a phenomenon of production and employability. “Growth has been difficult, in the sense that we are growing 30% a year, on average, which means that every three years we add a company of the same size as before. And that brings dynamics to the team, because so much dynamism is not for everyone: there are people who prefer some stability”, jokes Stricker's CEO.
On the other hand, he underlines, “it brings a need for creativity, because people have to adapt constantly. They enter and, two years later, they already have to adapt to different functions because the growth needs are so great that people are constantly being challenged.
With factories in Murtede (Portugal), Minas Gerais (Brazil) and Brno (Czech Republic), the company also has operations in China (where it employs 40 people) and more than 30 commercial subsidiaries in Europe, which makes the company's total team exceed 1,200 people.
Flexibility – within the team and of processes – is therefore imperative.
“Given that Stricker has been growing since 2019, Coverflex brings us more flexibility to increase the employee's salary package. In a universe of 600 people in Portugal, we have a very multigenerational population using the platform, from people with small children, who can use Coverflex Childcare or Education, to more Millennial or Gen Z employees, with more interest in Technology or Professional Training. There are always options that help in talent attraction and retention", Cláudia Abrantes, Compensation & Benefits Analyst from Stricker, exemplifies. “Coverflex brings us the possibility and the flexibility for employees to choose, according to their needs or even interests".
The adoption of Coverflex, says Diana Loureiro, Compensation & Benefits Analyst, happened for two fundamental reasons. “The first, in the hope of attracting the best talent, because we have a somewhat remote location, we are not close to big cities and therefore we needed to offer something more than the normal salary package; and then, attract or rather retain our employees in the best possible way and giving a much more flexible perspective and platform, so that employees could be autonomous in managing their benefits”.
Nataliya Taran says that, if at first Coverflex may have seemed “a brain twister”, this feeling disappeared as the team tried out the product. “It was necessary for people to go through the experience, explore the product and ask, among colleagues, what it was and how it is done. I was one of the first people to use the product in the company, and it ended up conveying the message that it is actually something very beneficial and people started to join in”, explains Stricker's International Account Manager.
When it comes to meeting everyone's needs, there is a huge diversity to consider. “Persistence, ambition and teamwork are the three things that most define our company. We face very different worlds and the fact that we have such a diverse team - we have people from different countries, more than 25 nationalities - helps us adapt to new worlds, and makes us successful.”, underlines Nataliya Taran.
Jorge Alcobia adds another ingredient as a success factor: innovation. “It is part of our DNA in these various aspects: in the processes - commercial and manufacturing -, in the IT - where we also have to be innovative to be able to develop solutions that are different from the market -, in the design of the collection. Innovation is critical. And I would say that's important in retention. We have very young people and obviously for this younger generation what counts the most is the challenge of being able to do things. To innovate and be different, to not always have to do the same thing”, says Stricker's CEO.
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