How was the first HR Executive Learning Breakfast

08 Apr 2019

28th March marked the first edition of the HR Executive Learning Breakfast, a platform for meaningful exchanges of ideas & HR best practices for senior leaders, organised by Romania Insider and Ideograf, in partnership with Maastricht School of Management. Over 40 early birds joined us at MSM to hear from Cristian Popescu, HR Director at ProTV and Sergiu Neguț, Associate Dean at the Maastricht School of Management Romania on retention strategies.

Employees can’t be forced to stay in a company

Cristian started with a story about an employer who wanted to leave the company and the thinking process the HR team went through to figure out how to prevent this person from leaving. They came up with alternatives, but ultimately the employee left, before coming back again a few months later.

The idea was that retention is not something you can develop as a one off, but ratter a matter of working together, HR with senior management, to create an environment of support, trust and respect for each team member. It is said that people leave managers, so it’s very important to improve the quality of relationship managers create with team members.

Managers should aim to understand what employees want, what makes them wake up in the morning and what they fear, using this knowledge to create a meaningful environment in the company. This is inevitable, people will go at some point and what you can do is make their life worthwhile while they’re working in a company.

When they do leave, make sure it’s a difficult decision, that there’s something they will regret. Regardless of who takes the decision to leave the company (you as an employer or the person quitting), you want to ensure their experience with you was a good one. Sergiu correctly pointed out that these people go back out in the market and what they say about you will represent your reputation.

Help create a gang to keep employees engaged

Another idea discussed was the one of tribes or gangs. You want to help create gangs in the company, which is how and why people want to belong to a company. It’s about emotion more than anything else. We aggregate around causes, this is how we join gangs and this becomes a retention tool. Sergiu mentioned this as extremely important for millennials, who care about the causes most important for them.

Then, Cristian went on to mention you realise how engaged an employee is by evaluating how they talk about their company with friends and family, what stories do they tell. This circles back to employers by considering how to create an employee experience that keeps people enthusiastic about their role and organisation.

Another important point mentioned was that employees need space to be creative, which is why managers need to create space outside the craze for efficiency for this. Companies survive by being creative, but employees “survive” by being creative and engaged.

On the other hand, HR executives from the audience reported issues with team managers, who are lacking empathy and basic human understanding. An example from the room mentioned how they ran workshops on the human brain, what drives us and what motivates us and how this was reported to have a great impact on the employees. This was confirmed by the speakers, mentioning most leaders have reached the top because they are driven, possess analytical skills and vision. Only a few have embedded people skills without the need of more training.

The speakers and part of the organising team

The event generated great interaction and a lot of discussion, which goes to show the value HR executives found in networking, learning and sharing. It will be part of a series, so if you’re interested in accessing an invitation or partnering with one of the next ones, please reach out to


To wrap up, I will leave you with something an attendee shared: we want to think employees are engaged, like dogs, but they’re actually like cats. They need food, to play when they want to and a shelter, then they will be happy.