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Fatima Nunes: recruitment of talent, development of skills and well-being for all!

Friday 27 January 2023

Fatima Nunes took over the management of human resources at Caritas Luxembourg at the beginning of January. The HR challenges are numerous, but she is not intimidated.

What is your background?

I started working in 1989 at Kühne + Nagel Sàrl and it was by chance that I ended up in the human resources department three years later. I liked it from the start. My manager at the time encouraged me to develop my skills and I was able to grow in my role as I went along. I am still very grateful to him for having trusted me. I have been with the company for over 20 years.

Is there a difference between managing resources in a private company and in an association like Caritas Luxembourg?

The management of human resources is always the same whether you are in a private company or in an association. You have to be very rigorous, respectful and fair with each employee.
However, what is different in an organisation like Caritas Luxembourg is the importance that must be given today to the psychosocial well-being of its employees. Working in such difficult contexts as those in which our employees work can have consequences for their health.  They are confronted on a daily basis with all the misery in the world, without being able to alleviate it as they would like to do, which is sometimes very stressful. The young people who start with us all say that they have been prepared for the difficult context, but they have no idea of what awaits them. It is a complex job that requires a lot of know-how and interpersonal skills.
At the same time, the work is also very rewarding. Our beneficiaries are very grateful to us even if we were not able to help them as we would have liked. This is perhaps another difference with the private sector: our employees are very proud to work in an association, to be able to develop and live their human values such as mutual aid, solidarity, listening, empathy and benevolence in their daily work.

How is the job market for these positions? 

As you can imagine, we have difficulty recruiting Luxembourg residents for our positions. However, they are indispensable if we want to work on the social inclusion of our beneficiaries. The work is psychologically very heavy and many of them prefer not to come at all or to change after a few years for positions at State level, which are better paid and often less psychologically demanding. I understand them. You need to have a mind of steel to work at Caritas Luxembourg.
Having said that, we manage to find 'tough guys' who are ready to overcome all difficulties if they can live their values and make themselves useful.
Finally, we can also count - and I thank them - on the recruitment of cross-border workers. The competition from the Luxembourg State does not play a role here and the collective agreement at Caritas Luxembourg is nonetheless interesting. 

What are the challenges you would like to tackle first?

There are several. There is the one about recruitment. We have to give ourselves the means to be able to recruit the right profiles for the right positions, and this within deadlines that are often very tight. For the Ukraine emergency, for example, we had to recruit over eighty people in a few months. It was a huge challenge, which we met. However, we do not know if we will succeed in the future if the emergencies follow each other as they have in recent years. 
Furthermore, given the numerous recruitments made to deal with the last two emergencies - Coronavirus and Ukraine - it will be important in the coming months to consolidate the teams. 
Finally, another major challenge is that of retaining staff, which is closely linked to the issue of well-being at work. My objective is to do everything possible to improve the well-being of our employees and reduce the psychological burden on them. For example, we have just strengthened the management of the teams working in the shelters. But a lot remains to be done. 

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