The results of the 2020 YPAI survey tell us that talents of the future don’t just want jobs – they want to believe they are making a difference. So how do companies like Konecranes create a brand that is perceived by young professionals to be a real reflection of their values?
Konecranes is a world-leading group of lifting businesses employing more than 18,000 people and serving a broad range of customers, including manufacturing and process industries, shipyards, ports and terminals. Their cranes and lifting solutions dot the skylines in the ports in over 50 countries around the world, generating over €3.3 billion in sales in the process.
Their success is no coincidence, and raising themselves up the ranks of Finland’s best employers has required a lot of strategic thinking, with one common thread connecting much of their employer branding activity – keeping their image as real as possible.
By developing an image and brand based the real-life experiences of employees, Konecranes has risen to 10th place in the list of Finland’s most attractive employers in Young Professionals Attraction Index 2020 (YPAI).
“Building an employer image will only really succeed if existing staff or alumni recognize the truthfulness of the communicated image – you cannot build castles in the air. Like all brands, a good employer evokes emotion.”
Satu Virtanen, Talent Acquisition Specialist
“We often think of the employer image as an external image, but influencing it is not just a polishing of the outer shell. Developing it and creating a strategy is a journey to the core of the company,” Satu explains. “What are the themes and goals of our business strategy? What kind of expertise do we have and what kind of expertise do we need to implement our business strategy now and in the future? Who are the talents? What are they interested in and what kind of things do they value? What can we offer that other organizations competing for the same skills don’t offer?”
“We cooperate with universities nationwide and offer information about what we do, as well as summer job opportunities. We want to offer interesting, challenging roles for young professionals,” she says. “Our work in this area is very focused and very much steered by the goals we have. Without strategic work it’s easy to do a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and you may not get the desired results. Our approach has been very targeted, and we are starting to reap the rewards, and it is something we will continue to do.”
Compared to other companies listed on Helsinki’s Nasdaq stock exchange, Konecranes is still relatively young. The original Kone company was founded in 1910, but the corporation as it exists today came into being in 1994 after a major restructuring. All of this is taken into account when telling the company’s story to young professionals.
“It is important to create an employer image and brand that is based on the company's business strategy and that identifies its own strengths and areas for development. It’s important to strongly involve the company’s various stakeholders in this work and not do it behind closed doors in the HR office,” Satu says.
That feeling of keeping it real extends as far as what images the company uses in its communications – if young professionals see themselves reflected in these images, then they can imagine being part of the team.
“We make real coworkers and our company culture visible in images, videos and career stories, and we make use of them in career pages, job adverts, social media and so on,” Satu says. “With a good employer image and branding strategy and a good employee experience, we can ensure that we are able to hire the kind of expertise with which we can succeed in our own business area and expand further.”
Konecranes have understood that the foundation for building a credible employer brand that is sustainable in the long term is to work from the inside out, and not the other way around. Communicating with an overly positive or even a false image leads to an increase in the gap between expectations and reality, and the employer brand will be damaged as a result. To be an attractive employer, one must ensure that the company has engaged employees who speak well of their employer to their family and friends – that is when the employer branding efforts start to have the desired effect. Involving existing employees in how the messaging is formed and later delivering it externally is a winning concept.