As part of the Aalto University School of Business’ customized student business projects, students from the School of Business Kalle Luoto and Niklas Helineva were assigned to research the behavior and aspirations of Konecranes’ service employees in Finland. In addition to the current employee base, students from related fields were interviewed to broaden the research scope to Konecranes’ employee candidates.
Konecranes is a global listed company specializing in manufacturing and service of cranes and lifting equipment. The student team worked with Konecranes’ HR team in Finland to better understand employee and candidate motivation and drivers to further develop recruitment for Konecranes’ service and maintenance in Finland. Currently, the service and maintenance industry is facing a significant shortage of skilled workforce in Finland. A talented and committed employee base is an important competitive factor for leading companies in the industry, such as Konecranes.
The project team aimed to help Konecranes navigate this challenging environment. The project results were impressive, with the project team managing to bring in new insights and outline new strategies for Konecranes’ employer branding, recruitment, and employee retention.
Candidate Personas as a research framework
The project set out to understand better the profile of a potential service technician applicant, with the objective to build Candidate Personas for recruitment. The data was based on interviews with electrician students and current service technicians working at Konecranes.
A Candidate Persona is a method which provides a semi-fictional representation of an ideal job candidate. These are traditionally used to assist in creating job descriptions and key messages to better target and attract potential candidates. The project team however approached this with a more comprehensive approach, focusing on both recruitment and employee retention.
The data produced a set of personas and identified key types of ideal candidates and current service technician employees, including the distinct traits and behavioral patterns which can be used in recruitment marketing and employee value proposition creation.
‘We focused on creating a comprehensive and real life image of the whole workplace and the characteristics of employees and candidates. The conceptual image was then brought to life through the candidate personas and stories behind them, providing a convincing and tangible baseline. From it, we identified strategies and tools for branding, marketing and recruitment which are most effective for this target group (service technicians) and also the focus areas where Konecranes could improve. Of course, also the areas where Konecranes is already succeeding,’ tells Kalle Luoto about the process.
The research methods and analysis were carefully thought out with the help of project supervisor, Associate Professor Marjo-Riitta Diehl who provided further insight ensuring that the analysis stayed true to reality and was clearly argued.
‘As a researcher in the field of organizational behavior, it is exciting to see how much of the project team’s findings especially aspects of workplace culture and community are also reflected in academic research, really strengthening the broader picture of the results,’ says Marjo-Riitta Diehl.
Surprising synergies from working with students
The research phase of the project consisted of an extensive period of qualitative research interviews with students of the field and Konecranes’ service technicians across Finland. These interviews showed exceptionally well how collaboration with students can be a strength for businesses. The overall result benefited greatly from having third-party students as the interviewees which resulted in a very relaxed and open discussion, uncovering very nuanced details of workplace culture, organizational behavior and job-seeking activity.
Accoring to Niklas Helineva, we agreed with the client that all interview results will be anonymized to promote a more open and honest discussion with the interviewees. This setting of having a research team independent of the company worked out great and promoted dialogue.
In the end, the HR team at Konecranes’ was excited by the results and the project team managed to bring all of this data and analysis from the interviews to a very concrete set of insights.
Special praise for the comprehensive and explicit report
Milla Saari, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Konecranes was pleased with the project.‘The topic was important because it helped us to better understand our recruitment target audience, in this case, Service Technicians living in Finland. Based on the results, we are able develop and sharpen our employer brand and career communication with these candidates and do it in the right channels and platforms.’
‘The students were very self-initiated and boldly grabbed the assignment after the first introductory meeting. Working with the student team was easy. Students received special praise for the comprehensive and explicit report, which was provided well on time. We got a lot of valuable information about how the target group is applying for jobs and what channels they are using for it. Project results will be used to build, sharpen, and target our ongoing and future recruitment campaigns for technicians.’
‘Overall, it was an interesting experience to create a project so independently with a large company client from the very start. The project was also interesting in the sense that Konecranes’ service technicians are located across Finland and from differing cultural backgrounds. In this project, we managed to dig into the differences across different areas and gain further analysis of the preferences of this key employee/candidate group, while also supporting Konecranes development as an attractive employer,’ the project team summed up the results.