Evi Reynaert - Talent Manager EMEA - Komatsu


Which measures has Komatsu taken from an HR perspective to keep operating during the lockdown?

We were suddenly faced with work from home for all of our employees, whilst in the past this was only for a selected audience. We supported them with all the technical matters, but also with online webinars on how to work more productively from home with all the different Office tools available. We also made use of a European HR Teams channel where we provided news, but also informed them about trainings, challenges etc to keep them engaged with our company.

What particular challenges has Komatsu faced (eg either from a manufacturing / distribution / service perspective, or being so closely linked to construction, which took a big hit)?

Our warehouse and HQ in Belgium have always been operational during the lockdown in Belgium. Our EU factories were in shutdown and also in Belgium some White Collar employees went into temporary unemployment 1 day/week. As our Distributors suffered as well, the effect was also there in our business.

What impact has the Covid-19 crisis had on the way Komatsu is resourcing and approaching Talent Acquisition or Development? (hiring freeze, only critical replacements...?)

We never really stopped our recruitment. Hiring processes just continued, mainly for replacements. We had some newcomers during the past 5 months and it is a challenge to make them feel welcome, whilst everyone is still working from home. We keep a close eye on the induction process and support managers as much as possible by following up bi-weekly.

What will be the impact of the Corona virus on your Talent strategy over the next 12 months?

We will have to pay attention to how people are coping with the work from home principle, as this will become part of our daily activities also in the future. Introverted people are thriving now! We will certainly need to keep an eye on introduction procedures and how to keep people engaged with our company.

What implications do you see for your resourcing needs due to the coronavirus?

Lots of profiles will be on the market due to unfortunate closing of businesses, but people with strong positions with companies, might not be so eager to change in the short or even long future.

How have you managed your messaging and internal communications across the region? How have you maintained employee motivation?

On a weekly base there was a Teams meeting with top management of our EU subsidiaries. To share local information but also how the business was doing. We communicated all updates from the government with impact on Komatsu business by email, almost on a weekly base.

Employee motivation by an internal Teams channel, inviting people for webinars, online yoga sessions, online coffee corners… With some help from our CSR ambassador Matthias Casse and external providers.

We now also have a CSR global platform mainly focusing on sustainability but also on well being as we all became ‘remote rangers’, working from home. People can share tips and tricks on how they keep sane and healthy during the corona pandemic and lockdown.

Are there ways in which Komatsu has been able to contribute to the fight against Covid-19 (not necessarily financially)? Have there been any initiatives you would like to highlight?

We donated to different organizations: https://www.komatsu.eu/en/news/komatsu-europe-supports-the-fight-against...


What do you think companies should be doing to get back on track?

Focus on the functions that are key for the organization and keep cherishing them. Focus on what customers are going through and how they can adapt themselves to help shape new businesses. E.g. we have been giving online training to customers – although ofcourse not the same as being in a classroom, we need to keep investing in continuity of the business.

Looking at the industry in general (or at Komatsu in particular), which functions can make the biggest difference to getting back on track?

Sales and Marketing to drive growth, Procurement to reduce costs, Customer Service to differentiate from competition, or other areas? According to me, you will need all of them. Although the customer point of view is something that Komatsu has always found very important, this will now only become stronger in the months / year to come.

How do you view the next 6-12 months from an overall HR or Talent perspective? Have you had any roundtable discussions with other Talent professionals?

Focus on new ways of recruiting and what will be the additional skills / personality traits we will be looking for. (ref. introverted people) Strong focus on leadership skills as well and to keep investing in training / guidance of managers who are now in charge of remote / virtual teams more than ever.

Do you anticipate that the crisis will make any lasting changes to the way people work, or the way they are allowed to work at the company? (eg more teleworking, less/more travel, more reliance on IT tools, other...)?

At Komatsu certainly more work from home, travel will become less (which was also already a good cost saving)

What have you been surprised by in a positive way from an HR/TA point of view?

In a good way it changed the way we look at remote ways of working: all of a sudden it was possible for everyone. Even though management was not convinced in the past, it will certainly be part of or future now. So that is at least one positive change!

To conclude:

What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?

Enjoying small gatherings with family and friends (hopefully the ‘bubble’ will shortly become bigger again… )

What changes will you make to the way you live or work after things get back to normal?

I must admit that working from home that much learned me to ‘slow down’ and not to be part of that daily rat race anymore. It helped me to focus for professional activities, but also to value what is really important in life. Having a good work – life balance is really key to a successful life. I realize that now more than ever!