KONE Corporation

Powered by the people: Elevator company KONE renewed its values with all 60,000 employees

KONE Corporation, the world’s leading manufacturer of elevators and escalators, is a pioneer in building a community culture. The company’s values are at the heart of everyday life at KONE, guiding both day-to-day work as well as organizational development.

This is the result of a comprehensive cultural development program KONE has been running within the organization. A key part of the program is to get everyone’s voices heard and give visibility to stories of everyday life at KONE. The organization’s values have also been updated during the development program.

Lotta Vuoristo, Head of Culture Journey at KONE, D. Sc. (Econ.), was pleased to see how well the new values took root in the organization’s daily life.

“Our values truly reflect the voices of our people, and our people genuinely remember what our values are. I believe that this is because they have been created using the specific terms our employees use when talking about their work at KONE.”

In a global organization of 60,000 people, Lotta does not take this for granted.

“Our values have been warmly welcomed, and feedback has been consistently excellent. People say they no longer even remember what our old values were.” Lotta thinks the results are particularly wonderful in light of the fact that the new values were launched just a year ago.

“We have worked hard to make sure that our values are shaped in a way that resonates with our people.”

“During this same period of time, we have also launched a new strategy period and closed the books from last fiscal year, among other things. Clearly, the communications around our values have been a true success. It has probably had a big impact that we have worked hard to make sure that our values are shaped in a way that resonates with our people.”

The pandemic prompted KONE to take a virtual approach to cultural development

KONE first started working on its values under the leadership of Lotta and her team at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its travel restrictions and fast shift to the work-from-home model for office employees.

“The pandemic came just when our value work was about to start. Even without it, however, it would have been impossible for us to engage our employees from different countries and locations to work together to such an extent. Now, with the pandemic, a virtual approach has been even more important.”

Howspace supported KONE on its journey to develop the company culture and renew its values. In the first phase, a few hundred employees from all over the world were selected for a focus group.

“With the help of Howspace, we were able to engage people from all our geographic regions to take part.”

“In addition, all 60,000 of our employees were included in developing our culture through normal annual organizational and employee satisfaction surveys,” Lotta explains.

“With the help of Howspace, we were able to engage people from all our geographic regions to take part. There were a lot of people involved in the discussions whom we have previously struggled to engage without travelling to where they are and working together face-to-face. Now, everyone was really enthusiastic and active.”

Virtual work brought colleagues around the world together

The key challenge of the program was to give visibility to real-life experiences, stories, and atmospheres, according to Lotta. Along the way, volunteer employees were asked to share their thoughts for additional variety and nuances.

“We asked our participants to send photos of their daily lives. Initially, I thought we wouldn’t get very many. However, a lot of people sent us their snapshots. Some photos showed people wearing masks at the work site, others portrayed children eating breakfast next to a computer of a remote-working employee. It was clear that the photos were not sent to gain extra points from the management but rather because our people genuinely wanted to share something about their life with their colleagues.”

This responsiveness proved that the organization already had a strong community culture in place, explains Lotta. It served as a foundation on top of which it was easy to start building something new.

“People were encouraging and supportive of each other. Clearly, we already had an inherent model of engagement in the company culture, even though sharing experiences had not been done this widely in the past.”

Listening to individuals increases equality and diversity

Lotta believes that digital working practices are now an inherent part of everyday life at KONE as well as in other organizations. Even if the situation caused by the pandemic is starting to normalize, it does not mean that the newly learned working methods will disappear.

“The importance of listening and engaging employees will become even greater in the future.”

“The importance of listening and engaging employees will become even greater in the future. The rise of digital working methods is not only the result of the pandemic—it’s a more permanent change.”

“In addition, virtual working methods contribute to equality when the discussions are not only analyzed by humans but also by artificial intelligence. I feel that Howspace really gives every individual the opportunity to influence and be part of the decision-making process.”

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