Personalised career tracks and freedom to try new roles: People are placed first in this company

KONE’s focus on developing its team ensures that employees remain happy and fulfilled

Senior service business manager at KONE, Mr Yip Why Mun (far left), with a senior safety specialist and a site supervisor at one of the company’s project sites. PHOTO: KONE

You may not realise it, but you are most likely using one of KONE’s products in the course of your daily life.

As one of the world’s leading escalator and elevator manufacturers, Finnish company KONE delivers millions of people safely and quickly to where they need to be.

The company, says senior service business manager Yip Why Mun, is just as dedicated to ensuring that its people are progressing smoothly in their career track. 

“KONE really values employees and wants to support their development,” says Mr Yip

Every single one of KONE’s 60,000 employees globally has their own Individual Development Plan – a chart that maps out a staff member’s projected career trajectory across the next five to 10 years.

Managers work one-on-one with their subordinates to try to fulfil their career aspirations as much as possible. 

In the case of Mr Yip, he found himself needing a change after almost two decades in the quality, safety assurance and compliance field. A transition to an operations role would mean starting from scratch at another company – and having to take a big pay cut – if he quits his job. 

But once he expressed his desire to his superiors, they were quick to do everything they could to help the good performer transition into operations, from providing mentorship to furnishing him with a slew of opportunities as well as relevant on-the-job training.

“It was all really beneficial for me,” says Mr Yip, who has now held his current position in operations for three years.

As part of their mid- and end-of-year reviews, KONE employees can express interest in other roles they would like to pursue within the company.

“KONE is open to employees trying out new roles,” says Ms Shafa Azman, sales and operations planning specialist at KONE.
Though she joined the company as a project administrator, her growing curiosity in delivery operations led to her eventually transitioning to her current role, but not without two years of mentorship and training.

Ms Shafa Azman (third from left) with her colleagues at KONE. PHOTO: KONE

“I can speak on everyone’s behalf that our KONE colleagues are very generous when it comes to knowledge sharing, and colleagues from all departments are extremely helpful,” she says. “My peers are always there to support me whenever I need help.”

Employees who have been with the company for at least a year and have consistently shown good performance are also eligible for KONE’s Education Scholarship.

The bond-free scholarship provides partial financial support for employees who wish to pursue educational opportunities pertaining to their job scope, which can be anything from a certificate or diploma to even a Master’s degree.

Caring for staff well-being

Inclusiveness has always been a key part of KONE’s workplace culture. 

Rated among the top employers in Singapore according to global research firm Statista in collaboration with The Straits Times, the company regularly celebrates festivals ranging from Deepavali and Hari Raya, to International Men’s and Women’s Days. 

This is especially important because the team at KONE comes from all manner of backgrounds and cultures, explains Ms Shafa. “Celebrating these festivities allows us to understand each other better and build our existing relationships.”

But inclusiveness doesn’t stop there. During the initial outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, KONE implemented several measures to ensure that employees could continue to do their jobs, while remaining safely isolated. 

The company offered Malaysian technicians temporary accommodations so that they would not have to worry about difficulties crossing the border to continue their work in Singapore. Phones were also issued to the workers and they were trained to use video conferencing software, allowing them to stay in touch with their managers for regular meetings. 

Upon returning to their accommodations, the workers found gift hampers loaded with food waiting for them – a gesture from KONE to thank them for their hard work. 

“We had so many workers stuck here in Singapore, unable to go home to see their families and loved ones,” recalls Mr Yip. “As their employer, we really had to step up to take care of their lodging and welfare.”


Even as the worst of the pandemic has passed and workers return to the office, KONE is keeping its best practices. Flexi-work schedules, which gained momentum in KONE in the past year, are now a regular fixture, giving workers the freedom to choose when to return to the office when they are not required on-site.

For Mr Yip, the flexi-work arrangement has made it much easier to plan his schedule around his wife’s commute – she drives the family car to work on days that he works from home, and vice versa.

“We don’t even fix the number of days we need to be in the office,” he says. “My boss doesn’t even question where I work, as long as I remain contactable and productive.

“At KONE, we’re given a lot of autonomy to choose for ourselves, and that’s something I really appreciate.”

For Ms Shafa, hybrid working arrangements have done wonders for her mental health. Pre-pandemic, her daily two-way commute was an hour and 15 minutes – a sizable chunk of her day spent navigating peak hour traffic. 

“With hybrid working, I am glad that I don’t have to do this daily and am able to get extra minutes of rest,” she says. 

“This helps to mitigate burnout on an extremely busy week with back-to-back meetings.”

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