ASA 002: Ukrainians – how to find a great candidate and ensure good onboarding

Learn what Ukrainians are like at work!

Monika Chutnik
Ukrainians – how to find a great candidate and ensure good onboarding

During last months millions of people from Ukraine have entered the labour market in Europe and changed it a lot. Employers have access to new workforce in all kinds of professions now. 

From this podcast you will learn more about:

  • What working style you can expect from Ukrainian colleagues
  • What you can do to find great candidates
  • What you can do to ensure a great onboarding into your team and company
  • What you can do to ensure a great experience of working together with Ukrainans in your business 

Listen to this conversation if you work in HR, as an employing manager or as a business owner who would be interested to both help and access a new talent pool.


Three things that I take away as key messages from this conversation:

  1. Give clear instructions to newcomers, double checking for understanding might be the best way to avoid confusion
  2. Learn a small phrase in Ukrainian to make the first step
  3. Watch the general situation of your candidate and offer information on a broader level 

If you know a person who is considering working with Ukrainians, who is employing Ukrainians or who is about to search for candidates from Ukraine, please share this podcast episode with them, so that they can get additional information and insights into the cooperation with Ukrainians.

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Additional materials:

If you need support in cooperation in your international teams, in a virtual or hybrid environment, or if you would like to take care of the mental resilience and wellbeing of your employees – please visit us at ETTA



It seems that there are plenty of people from Ukraine in Europe and it would be nice to know what you need to know before you employ a Ukrainian person.

I am having Hanna Yankina with me who will be able to share some first hand information about that. She has been living in 4 countries, including the last 7 years in Poland. and working in recruitment, mainly in IT, for 10 years. She provides career consultancy, helps with job searches, and runs a recruitment course in IT, engineering or SSC.


Working culture in Ukraine – what is it like?


We can split it into three periods of approach to work in Ukraine:


1. Working culture before the USSR collapsed – centrally planned economy

People from this generation used to have so called “collective responsibility” which means no one was responsible for anything. Probably those people are not very initiative but they still will be very open to do something their manager told. They will try their best to do that in the best way then can, but please do not expect from them thinking why they should do something. You should rather expect more passivity and following manager’s directions, with distributed responsibility.

For those people the passivity and adjusting to the group was the necessary condition for surviving. It’s not easy to overcome it, so probably you will face it while working with people aged 40+ who came to Europe to start a new life.


2. Working culture after the USSR collapsed (30 years ago) and private businesses were possible in Ukraine – early free economy

The interesting thing is that the payback time of private business in Ukraine is always faster and the payback rate is always bigger than entrepreneurs in Europe expect. This means that people who were able to have businesses after the USSR collapsed, did it not thanks to something but despite of the entire environment which was against. 

Treating the workers as resources increased income very fast. The majority of business owners didn’t treat employees like someone to invest in. They didn’t need the loyalty because the level of unemployment was very high and it was really easy to find someone else. That was easier and cheaper than paying for education or loyalty of employees. This also had a big impact on how people behaved and what they expected some years later.  

After coming to Europe they sometimes look for some traps, because if everything goes smoothly, they cannot believe that it can be like that. 

People from those two generations (so 30+ and 40+) need the strong leadership, at least at the beginning of their journey in Europe. And also they need very clear instructions: what and how to do something. 


3. International economy for white collars

Young people are not that different than people in Europe. They used to travel a lot, have access to free media, treat European values as something very important and meaningful.

Dealing with young people from Ukraine, especially educated ones, is not a big challenge. That rather would be easy and pleasant.


Are there any significant differences between white and blue collars?


The difference between blue and white collars is much bigger than in Poland or Germany. Clearly it depends on the economy of the country. We don’t have the big middle class in Ukraine. Society and government are working on it but it’s not an easy task.

Blue collars, people who are not well educated, are much poorer than people in Europe. Their level of life is completely different. Majority of them have not been able to travel, even to the seaside. If you hire blue collars from Ukraine you must be prepared that they are more like simple people who might be actually encountering many more cultural challenges and also challenges to adapt. 


How does the situation of Ukrainians look like currently? 


First of all we shouldn’t forget that men are not allowed to leave Ukraine. It is very important when discussing the labor market. The majority of Ukrainian IT specialists are still male and most of them stay in Ukraine. I also know many colleagues who lived abroad and moved back after the war started, because they wanted to defend their country.  

Many women with children moved out from Ukraine. We should understand that those families are splited. Husband stays and wife with children leaves. You can imagine the level of stress when you are in such a situation.

It is very hard to start building a new life while you don’t know what is going to be next. 


The other thing that we should think about is: remote jobs for Ukrainians. Many men out of hot spots of Ukraine moved to the western part of the country and they are relatively safe. Some of them lost their jobs and now they really need those jobs. And they can perform very well because they are supermotived right now. 


Where to look for well qualified candidates from Ukraine?


When we are talking about remote jobs in IT, there are plenty of job portals. You can also use Facebook and LinkedIn. So I wouldn’t say that something changed here after the war started. When it comes to non IT professions, there were made some job portals as Jobs for Ukraine where you can find specialist from eg. financial or logistics domains. Also you can use Ukrainian job portals, they are paid but cheap and quite popular. But you can also use social media.

And when it comes to hiring people that are in Europe, it’s probably a little bit more challenging task. As we know many Ukrainans are staying in Poland and they are here not because they want to, but because they don’t know how to go further, what they should do. They are afraid. For many blue collars it is the first time abroad. Some of them lost houses, some lost family members. They are stressed and afraid. While helping them to understand that you can offer them shelter and job in other country, you should also explain how they can get to this country. Give them clear instructions and they will be eager to do what is needed.


What about English or some other foreign langues? 

It’s not the same in all businesses. People in IT speak English well. Logistics and finance less, but still they do.

It is easy to find a specialist in Ukraine with good English. 


Do you have any statistics about Ukrainians?


  • 5 millions of Ukrainians are already in Europe (May, 2022).
  • About 3 milions will remain longer than the war lasts if they establish a new life. 
  • 60% of them are here with their kids.


How to take care about a good onboarding of a new employee from Ukraine?


Firts of all, difficulties which I mentioned don’t mean that those people cannot perform on the highest level in their working places. You will be surprised how well many of blue collars can perform. If you invest in the explanation on how to start, you will get benefits. The expectations of majority of people are quite law. They don’t need a very good accommodation or very high salaries. They can still perform quite good without them.  

When it comes to onboarding, as well as pre-onboarding (traveling, accommodation), people need instructions and explanations of things that are obvious for us. I advise to ask questions if everything is clear as often as you can.

Ukraine is a high context country so take in mind that people can answer “yes” even if they don’t understand something. At the beginning, when you ask if everything is OK, ask also to paraphrase what you said, to be sure that your colleagues understood everything well.


People in Ukraine are very well networked. Is it a good idea to find one good candidate and ask him or her for recommendations, instead of looking for several individual candidates ?

There are some advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, that’s true, and an employee can recommend very good colleagues. But remember that this employee may try to recommend his/her brother, sister, friend, someone who she/he would like to work with and not someone who you are looking for. So checking qualifications is very important


What tips do you have for people and companies who are about to employ or just employed people from Ukraine?


Learn a few words in Ukrainian

Not many people in Europe speak Ukrainian. More people speak Russian and it may be kind of a problem nowadays. So if you speak Russian and don’t speak Ukrainian, I would advise you to learn just a few phrases in this language. Like: “hello, I don’t speak Ukrainian well, but I will be glad to help you with any questions you have” – you can learn how to say it in this podcast.

Support in easy things

Remember that people who moved to Europe can also need a support in looking for a kindergarten, hairdresser and things that are clear for you. Some of them will hesitate to ask. It’s a good idea to prepare a list of services around you. Also Ukrainian women use beauty services very often and this is a “must have” for majority of them. It would be nice if you make also a list of those services and explain how to call and ask for what they need.

As an employer you can make a portal where your employees will ask questions. Make it visible for everyone and explain how to use it. If people don’t have computers, you can use whatsapp, telegram etc. If you have colleagues in your company who speak Ukrainian or Russian ask them for support and offer some bonuses for that. It will make newcomers’ lives much easier. 

Explain medical insurance

Medical insurance is quite common in most European companies but it is not something that Ukrainians know and expect. So it’s important to explain them how it works and how they can use it. 


What surprised you when you moved to Poland?


Working culture! In my first working place in the recruitment agency, we were working on success fee only, and my colleague was very motivated about finding some specialist. She was looking for him for a few weeks. Finally she invited him for a meeting at 3:30 pm. He was 15 minutes late so the meeting also started later. When the recruiter’s working day was over she said: “OK, my working day is over, we will continue tomorrow” and she closed her laptop and went to the tram station. For me, a person raised in Ukraine, it was just impossible. Work-life balance is not something that Ukrainians can be proud of

The woking style in Ukraine is changing but not so much. In IT sector there are many American companies, so the American style of work is quite common. People often do overtime. Also lunch time is not counted in working hours so working time in Ukraine is 9 hours and that is expected by employees.


How would you like to conclude the conversation?


“Hire Ukrainians! You almost can’t go wrong.” 

If you want to support Ukraine, it’s not something you can do only by donating money. It’s much better to offer the job to people who can and want to work. Also offering the remote job to Ukrainians makes an impact to their economy and country’s renovation after the war. That is not a charity. You can get many benefits from that. And you can get very loyal employees – those who will remember for very long time what you did for them during the war. 

When talking about people in Europe:

You will be surprised how grateful and loyal people from Ukraine can be. Of course you can face some cases of not the best colleagues but please, do not generalize. If you face such a situation, just go over it. Try again and you will get the benefits. 


Thank you!


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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