paper manufacturer to telecoms pioneer, Nokia has focused on developing its
core markets in digital telecoms never forgetting to get the best from the core
skills of its workforce. By Liz Hall
Nokia is the world leader in mobile communications, with sales to more than
130 countries and 54,000 employees worldwide. It has come a long way since its
inception as a Finnish paper manufacturer in 1865.
The expansion of electricity into homes at the turn of the century saw the
establishment of the Finnish Cable Works in 1912, with the manufacture of
cables to support the telephone network. And in 1967, Nokia Corporation was
formed by the merger of the Finnish Cable Works and Finnish Rubber Works with
the original paper-making business, Nokia Company.
The world’s first international cellular mobile telephone network, NMT, was
introduced in Scandinavia in 1981 and Nokia manufactured the first car phones
for it. It produced the original hand-held portable telephone in 1987.
In 1992, Jorma Ollila, president of Nokia Mobile Phones, was appointed to
head the Nokia Group, overseeing the shedding of non-core businesses to focus
on telecoms in the digital age.
Nokia’s corporate strategy includes aiming to be the preferred mobile
communications provider, creating personalised communication technology;
strengthening and leveraging the Nokia brand, and expanding its business and
market position on a global basis. At the end of 2001, it had 18 manufacturing
facilities in 10 countries and research and development in 14 countries.
The company has four core values: ‘respect f or individual'; ‘continuous
learning'; ‘achievement’ and ‘customer satisfaction’. These values are
constantly referred to within the company, from inductions to internal
communications. They also form part of the appraisal process which rates not
just what an employee did, but how they did it.
UK geography manager Jennifer Rawsthorn, who is responsible for the delivery
of all HR services in the UK says: "Employees are asked to describe how
both they and their manager adhere to the values in their daily working life.
The values are integral in everything we do."
In 2001, Nokia’s net sales totalled £31.2bn. In the first quarter of 2002,
net sales decreased 12 per cent to £7bn compared to the first quarter of 2001.
Nokia comprises two business groups: Nokia Networks and Nokia Mobile Phones. It
also includes a separate Nokia Ventures Organisation and the corporate research
unit, Nokia Research Center.
Last year Nokia recruited about 80 staff in the UK. It plans to take on
about 100 this year, mostly software engineers. Online recruitment accounts for
about 80 per cent of recruitment for external hires and internal transfers.
"Our e-recruitment is very successful and the e-tools have had a
positive impact on the time and cost of recruitment," says Rawsthorn.
In previous years, Nokia’s graduate intake has been as high as 40, with
strong involvement with the universities ‘milk round’. However, these days,
online recruitment is its main tool, although it does use specialist trade
press and open evenings to recruit experienced engineers – an open evening in
Farnborough in March attracted an ‘overwhelming’ response, with 500 attending
compared to the usual 150.
Nokia is keen on promoting career development from within, with internal job
rotation processed through the company intranet. Employees register their CV on
the system, and use key words to tap into a job alert system.
Staff turnover is around 6 per cent, slightly below the industry average.
Company benefits include 25 days holiday and a company pension scheme. And
Nokia is one of the few companies still offering a final-salary pensions
scheme. Stock is awarded each year to most employees and is linked to
The company does not offer childcare or creche facilities, but it offers a
minimum of 18 weeks maternity pay, up to 40 weeks depending on length of service.
And the company holds an annual summer event for employees and their families.
This year’s will be a Nokia-funded trip to Thorpe Park.
Training and development
In the UK there are eight staff in human resource development, with
additional resources available from the global HR platform.
The amount of training new recruits receive depends on the nature of their
role as does per capita spend on training and development. "Nokia has
always viewed staff development as key to business success, so there are no
strict training budget limitations," explains Rawsthorn.
Asked how many training and development days staff completed last year,
Rawsthorn says: "This is not how we measure the quality of training.
Measuring training days would not tell you whether the training was
satisfactory in raising the competencies of the person who attended."
Much of Nokia’s training is outsourced, but over the past 18 months, the
company has introduced a suite of locally deliverable e-HR systems.
This year it is launching an electronic global development tool called the
Learning Market Place, which will allow employees and managers to view all
available development solutions including seminars and electronic learning,
with training bookable online.
Nokia operates three highly popular leadership and management development
programmes, for first-time, intermediate and top-level managers.
HR strategy is linked to the bottom line, developed directly from the Nokia
business strategy. Nokia believes clarity and employee participation are key
when it comes to performance management. It holds a strategy review process
twice a year, after which staff and managers hold individual discussions on
what they need to do and the support they need to do it.
Nokia’s intranet site contributes to the company’s open communications
system. It has a global online appraisal system linked to job development
suggestions, career plans, training and vacancies databases. Each employee can
access a three-year rolling history of performance reviews with associated
links. Much of the form filling and initial review discussions take place
online, with actual appraisals carried out face-to-face twice a year.
The company has a succession planning tool but Rawsthorn says:
"Succession planning is a useful exercise, but it is not as important as
appraisal and internal recruitment and making sure we have fair selection
UK geography manager
Rawsthorn, who has a BSc in psychology, started working at
Nokia a decade ago as an HR manager in Huntingdon, after stints at Motorola and
Marconi. She later took on an organisational development role, translating
corporate strategies into local ones.
In October 2000, she was promoted to UK geography manager,
responsible for the delivery of all HR services across the UK. She heads the UK
HR platform, which she created and continues to develop.
She finds working in the industry rewarding because of its
global and fast-changing nature.
"The sector is challenging as it is forever changing and
you have to keep up. I enjoy the huge variety of work and the interaction with
people from other countries."
Size of HR team
40 in the UK.
HR department structure
Nokia is split into six groups, each with an HR manager who
reports to a central HR platform with any requirements. This replaces the
previous structure which had three HR managers for the three main businesses.
The overhaul happened across all the countries Nokia is based
in. The platforms meet quarterly and are split into four competency areas:
recruitment; human resource development; HR systems, and employee relations and
Ratio of HR to employees
Key HR initiatives
Introducing a global electronic salary review tool.
HR priorities for the year
Employee retention is probably the single most important thing
to focus on, says Rawsthorn.
How she spends her time
– change management
– running HR function, people management, project management
and process re-engineering