Winning Secrets: Konica Minolta

At the Employee Experience Awards 2022, Singapore, multinational technology company Konica Minolta received the silver award for Best Talent Mobility Programme.

In this interview, Irene Goh, Senior Manager, Regional Strategic HR, Konica Minolta (pictured above, first row, second from right) shares with Human Resources Online what the organisation did right in its mobility programme, and how crucial it is for the HR function to gain support and buy-in from management, as well as meet employees’ needs and expectations for such programmes to come to fruition — creating a win-win situation for organisation and talents at the end of the day.

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs and lows of your winning strategy – and how important is it for the organisation to have the strategy recognised this year?

It has been challenging for the past two years on the country immigration entry regulation and safe management measures in each country, to move our key talents for business needs on a timely basis and continuous career development. Nevertheless, we have overcome the most challenging part to convince our employees to move in the VUCA environment. We also put in extra effort on the care part to support them emotionally in the quarantine period during relocation, and when their family members are not with them.

Our intention is not on the award, but rather on a self-reflection of our HR strategy and the implementation of the Best Talent Mobility Programme category, whether we are moving in the right direction to attract and retain our talents. It is also to gauge our employees’ satisfaction with this programme, and how we can further enhance it to support our business needs on the transfer of knowledge, sharing of experiences, resulting in growth for our entire group. It is a motivation to us when we are acknowledged by the judging panel in the industry that we are taking the lead with our talent mobility programme.

The award has boosted our employees’ morale, and for those who are looking forward to the overseas experience to widen their horizons and progress in their career journey. It has further strengthened our unity and cohesiveness in our collaborative effort from our regional management, HR, and operational teams who have made this programme a success. Commitment from the stakeholders with a strong communication plan are key factors for a successful implementation.

Q Understanding and meeting your employees’ needs and expectations is never an easy feat. How did the organisation identify the business & employee needs, and craft the perfect solution? 

'Think Global, Act Local'. Staying agile to make adjustments to current practices, and always being prepared to have a listening ear on the challenges raised by unique individual needs during the safe management measures period is important.

From Konica Minolta’s perspective, employees’ safety first and the return on investment for the business are key. From an employee’s perspective, overseas exposure and career progression are something that they look forward to. There is no perfect solution but an integrated solution to incorporate genuine concerns and needs, we try to be more accommodating in gaining commitment from employees and meeting our business needs. Many times, the decision is based on situations such as "who needs who the most at the point of time". What is critical at that moment, along with exceptional arrangements, are taken for a win-win situation.

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI, when it came to fruition? Share with us the benefits of having such a strategy in place.

From the favourable comments from the host and home country stakeholders on the transfer of knowledge and exchange of best practices to talent’s career progression to hold higher responsibilities, and the subsequent award won on this transformation project, it is evident that the programme has brought fruition to both business and talent’s individual growth.

We showcased the best practice on what to expect for this mobility programme in our internal company magazine. It acts as a stimulator for employees to strike further who wish to be selected for the next overseas experience where they can widen their career horizons, network with our colleagues in subsidiary companies, and bring visibility as key talents in the global/region for future talent utilisation. The global employee survey is a good gauge of employees’ satisfaction and engagement. When employees are more engaged, they put in extra effort to go the extra mile.

Q Could you offer some recommendations to your peers across industries – what advice or lessons would you have to guide them into implementing something similar for their own EX foundation?

Different companies have different settings and backgrounds. It is important for HR to gain support and get buy-in from top management, that the programme will bring value to employees and business growth. Some points to share:

  1. Stay agile and prepared to modify implementation plans for unforeseen circumstances such as increased immigration restrictions and border delays;
  2. Have empathy for the affected parties, with differentiated solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, and
  3. Stay positive and turn challenges into opportunities.

Q If you were to reflect, what is one thing you would do differently in executing this strategy? 

When it comes to a mobility programme, quite often we see business units in the region hesitate to release their revenue-generated key talents where the majority are short-handed to run the operations. This is something that we need to find a solution to, to convince and get buy-in from the stakeholders on the value of this mobility programme, in the long run, to release this group of talents accordingly.

Konica Minolta shall continue to work closely with these stakeholders to understand their underlying concerns and plan ahead to realise this programme for these talents. As this group of talents progress to leadership roles, these overseas experiences and the network acquired will come in useful as a whole organisation.

Q Looking ahead, how is the organisation going to take this winning strategy higher and further in the coming years? Give us a sneak peek into your upcoming plans to grow the overall employee experience.

Employee experience is a company branding image that speaks itself for the company. This award is just the beginning. Konica Minolta shall not keep the status quo, keep on innovating our HR strategies to attract and retain different generations of talents so that they are engaged and committed to continuous contributions to the organisation.

We turned challenges into opportunities while the safe management measures were in place. We saw many female staff and working mothers come forward to raise their hands for short-term projects by working remotely. They did not mind having meetings in the early morning or late evening due to time zone differences, virtually while working from home. Employees see this as a great opportunity to contribute their area of expertise to work with diverse teams while not compromising on domestic issues on their physical relocation overseas to take up these assignments. This, in turn, supports their progress in their career development.

It forms a stronger multicultural team in the organisation that provides diverse perspectives when providing creative solutions to problems. It facilitates strategic inclusiveness and diversity globally, and enables the deployment of emerging leaders in line with the business strategy. Konica Minolta shall further explore various kinds of talents whose potential we may tap on in the new normal.

Q 10 years down the line, where do you see the future of HR? 

HR as a business partner needs to be more involved to understand business needs to provide appropriate advice and solutions to operations proactively to value add to the business. HR will continuously engage staff and empower individual employees as a business partner to the organisation, in their own functional specialisation, to achieve the common organisational goal. It may be a better approach to retaining talents.

HR transformation to be more digitalised in the employee lifecycle process will be the norm. Additionally, HR proficiency in data analytics to forecast and be proactive on future skills needed for business, what type of talents, and what kind of total rewards to retain talents will bring a competitive edge to the organisation. Possessing a strong vision and leadership to transform company culture and influencing skills to shift the mindset of the employees to meet VUCA environment fast are key skills needed in the future of HR.

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