The challengeThe specific challenge of Employer and Business Membership Organizations (EBMOs) in Central and Eastern Europe is that they only look back at a relatively short history as independent membership organizations starting to operate after the fall of the iron curtain in the early 1990s.
Although the willingness to associate to EBMOs has improved in recent years, many enterprises still do not see the value of a collective business voice and are hesitant to join.
Low membership and scarce financial resources make it difficult to provide services to members, to advocate for a better business environment, and to engage in policymaking on economic and social issues. This situation is further aggravated by the fact that governments do not often promote a genuine social dialogue.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put many Employers organizations to a hard test. Despite a sharp drop in income and limited human capacity, the EBMOs have demonstrated member-centricity at a times of crisis. With ILO support, most of them have increased the use of digital services to their members. At the same time, evidence collected by the EBMOs through surveys and sector-specific research positioned the voice of business at the forefront of COVID-19 debates across the sub-region. The EBMOs need to continue to build resilience and innovate to be better prepared for future challenges.
Main interventions offered to support Employers’ Organizations
- Advocacy: Advisory services on how to assess the environment in which enpreprises operate, as well as to formulate, implement, and monitor advocacy agendas and reform proposals. The main methodology applied is the ILO’s Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (EESE), as well as a number of sector-specific enterprise surveys.
- Service Delivery: Assessment of members’ needs for services improving the performance of individual enterprises, improvement of existing services, and development of new services.
- Complementary Management Support: Technical support on key issues of managing an EBMO, including strategic planning, governance, membership development, finance, internal organization, and communication.