HR in practice: Fujitsu Services moves in the right direction with career development

A lack of proactive talent management meant staff at Fujitsu Services felt the company was not fulfilling their career development expectations. An online…A lack of proactive talent management meant staff at Fujitsu Services felt the company was not fulfilling their career development expectations. An online career mapping tool has made a significant difference, as Lucia Cockcroft reports.

The business

A Tokyo-based IT service company with bases in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Fujitsu Services designs, builds and operates IT systems and services for large clients across the public and private sectors. The company has an annual turnover of £2.94bn and employs 22,000 staff.

The challenge

A 2006 employee opinion survey in the UK highlighted gaps in the firm’s training provision. Many employees questioned reported that Fujitsu was not doing enough to support their career development.

There was also found to be a significant gap between expectation and delivery of well-structured talent management – while many staff joined the company because of the perceived potential for career development, many said Fujitsu was not living up to their expectations in this area.

Meanwhile, the recruitment budget was huge. In 2006 alone, Fujitsu spent £5.1m on bringing new staff to the firm. Once they had joined, there was a clear need to motivate and retain this workforce.

Jai Cozzi, Fujitsu’s people development manager, says: “Staff viewed the company as a large organisation with lots of opportunities, but were leaving because their expectations hadn’t been fulfilled. We discovered we had not been good at supporting managers.”

It also became clear that staff were unclear about how to plan their career. There were big issues to confront, says Cozzi, in particular how to train managers and give them sufficient advice to help them understand their motivations and those of their staff.

The second major challenge was to find a way of presenting staff with all the career options – tricky given the complicated company structure, as Fujitsu is organised into 17 disciplines, including HR, finance and sales. “The information was there, but it wasn’t joined up,” says Cozzi.

Historically, individual career progression had taken place firmly within these disciplines rather than cross-community – a situation Fujitsu was keen to address.

The company assembled user groups from different areas of the business, and a picture started to emerge. Rather than there being too little career development information available, there was too much. It was not presented in an accessible way and employees were struggling to make sense of it. The challenge was to help staff visualise how their career would progress, and the company needed to find a way of facilitating this.

The solution

Enter a career mapping tool from learning consultancy Academee – an interactive online application that presents career planning information in a clear, visual format. The tool guides staff through planning their next career move by allowing them to see potential career paths, while mapping possible routes from one role to another.

The user groups Fujitsu assembled were charged with the task of testing out the system, which was broadened out and tweaked as the users fed back their comments.

“We added a self-diagnostic section to help employees identify their career motivations and preferences, as their first response was typically: ‘How do I know what I want to do?'” explains Cozzi.

A gap analysis tool was added, with the aim of helping staff to pinpoint areas for development, which would then form part of an overall personal career plan. If employees thought they could benefit from better financial awareness, for example, a ‘light touch’ suggestion was put forward in the form of a prompt to read the Financial Times.

The tool also presented ways to help employees understand what motivates them. A lighter Myers Briggs-type questionnaire helped with this, while a skills gap analysis suggested areas of possible improvement.

Access was straightforward, and while Academee hosted the tool, individuals could access it from the Fujitsu intranet. There were no restrictions on when staff could use it – the challenge, says Cozzi, was to inform people, it was there and to ensure they understood how to use it.

The outcome

Fujitsu is happy to admit that it has yet to establish a clear return on investment from the career mapping tool, but it’s early days and the firm has high expectations for the system. The time-frame – from the first employee to trial the product to its final installation – was six months, ending in August this year.

According to Cozzi, there was no specific time-frame goals, and as users fed back their experiences of using the tool, requirements changed and its scope grew organically.

The initial development cost was around £30,000 – a sum that trebled as requirements changed and more functionality had to be built in. But Cozzi is confident that the outlay will pay off. “If we are delivering on our promises for career development, we will get the money back,” he says.

Results from the first employee opinion survey since the system was put in place will be collected in December this year, when there will be a clearer picture of just how useful the career mapping tool has been, Cozzi adds.

If I could do it again…

Jai Cozzi, people development manager at Fujitsu, says: “When we were considering the project plan, we were initially more interested in the current thinking around careers in the company, what was behind the feedback and how we could improve career support for employees.

“I had not anticipated at that time how we would launch the career mapping system once we had the solution in place. By focusing only on the cause and the possible solution, I had not secured sufficient budget for the launch and promotion of the system.

“Looking back, I realise this was just as crucial as it would influence how many employees would use the new system we had invested in. The objective behind this project was to improve career support organisationally, so making it visible to our staff was important for its effectiveness.

“After some creativity, and through leveraging relationships across the business, our people development teams invested in their own launch initiatives, such as running web-based seminars and demonstrations via teleconferencing. While this was very encouraging and a great response, a planned launch campaign emphasising the importance of careers, supported by sufficient budget, would have had an additional impact.”

Managing career development in 5 steps

  1. Identify what the problem is and the areas for improvement. Employee surveys at Fujitsu found that staff felt not enough was being done to help them move forward in their careers.

  2. Make sure the reality lives up to the perception. Before joining, many staff saw the firm as having several opportunities to develop their careers, but some became disillusioned, which led to high turnover.

  3. Assemble cross-disciplinary user groups to feed back where they think the company is going wrong.

  4. The career mapping tool gave staff a sense of control over their career development, especially the self-diagnostic section.

  5. Once a system is in place, make sure the budget allows for promoting it fully to staff.

Employee perspective

“The career mapping tool has been very useful, providing me with a view of the various roles I am suited to within the organisation. I have been able to view the skills I have gathered during my career and explore the capability of moving to other areas of the business.

“One particularly good aspect is being able to put a stake in the ground with regard to my current competencies and viewing the gap analysis against my chosen career path. This is providing me with a comprehensive analysis to build into my development plan and will allow me to generate opportunities with the right exposure to build on my current skills, thereby developing my career in the right direction.

“As I am looking to expand my skills with a role in a different community within the organisation, the tool has allowed me to search for challenging opportunities that are available.”

Stefanie Collins, subject matter expert, Fujitsu

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