Student team participated in development of Hilti’s reward and benefit system
Hilti Finland commissioned a student project from the Aalto University School of Business to gain new knowledge and perspectives on rewarding. They are developing their overall compensation model together with their staff. Master's students Sofia Kontro Rosales and Kati Vinnikainen took on the challenge and supported Hilti in an extensive development project. The students were supervised by Marjo-Riitta Diehl, Professor at the Department of Management Studies, and the project was carried out in accordance with the Customised student business projects concept.
For Hilti, it was important to identify possible solutions for reforming the rewarding model together with their employees. The purpose of the student project was to increase understanding of the wishes of Hilti's employees related to rewarding so that they can be utilised in internal development work.
Project management lessons learned from co-operation with corporate customer
At the beginning of the project, the team prepared a research plan that summarised the discussion held at the first meeting with Hilti's human resources’ representatives and the company's key objectives for the student project. The research was carried out as staff interviews, based on which the students prepared their recommendations.
According to the students involved in the project and the professor who led them, the most important reasons for the success of the project were the corporate customer's commitment to collaboration and systematic progress from one phase to the next. They could finalise the schedule at the beginning of the project, which created a clear framework for the implementation. The customer company had clear expectations and a need for information from the research project. Hilti's employees who participated in the research were also enthusiastic and actively involved. Close co-operation with the staff kept it fresh in the minds that the project and the future development work were going to influence their daily work.
‘We started the project very fast, as Hilti had an active staff team ready, and we were able to agree on the interviews quickly. The commitment of both management and employees to the project was so clear, this made co-operation smooth,’ says student Sofia Kontro Rosales.
‘After the first meeting, we planned a precise schedule and the most important milestones which everyone involved in the project committed themselves to. This way, we avoided unpleasant surprises, and the project was completed as agreed in just over a few months. Hilti hoped that they would be able to utilise the results in the development phases of their internal project in late autumn, and this naturally increased our motivation even further,’ says team member Kati Vinnikainen.
The student duo was able to learn about project management and implement the corporate customer's wishes in practice.
‘Sofia and Kati are motivated and self-directed students. They approached the topic from several perspectives and listened to the client. Project management and presentation skills, as well as an analytical working method that are emphasised in these kinds of projects are also important in working life,’ says Marjo-Riitta Diehl, who supervised and supported the project team.
Staff opinions matter
The students discussed with Hilti's employees both in individual and group interviews. The purpose of the staff interviews was to provide Hilti employees with an opportunity to share their opinions of and proposals for rewarding anonymously. Students working as outsiders to Hilti, in the same way as consultants, were an excellent solution for conducting the interviews and critically examining the collected data. The key goal of the project was met, as Hilti received ideas for developing their compensation model so that the staff's views could be better realised.
‘We wanted to focus especially on monetary rewards in the sales organisation, employee benefits and employee experience. The project team discussed these themes comprehensively and brought up the perspectives of our staff in an interesting manner. The collaboration between Hilti and the students was based on active dialogue,’ says Heidi Forsström-Tuominen, Human Resources Director at Hilti Finland.
Corporate projects broaden views of both companies and students
The students who implemented the project praise the opportunity offered by the corporate project to utilise the know-how acquired during their studies.
‘I have almost completed my university studies, so the project was true finale. It was great to have access to academic knowledge and practical learning accumulated over the years for the benefit of corporate customers. We got to know a lot of nice people and learned a lot about Hilti as a company, which means that the project was a positive experience in all respects,’ says Kati Vinnikainen.
‘This has definitely been one of the most rewarding projects in my studies so far. I encourage other members of the Aalto community to boldly participate in similar corporate projects, they bring nice variation in the studies, and you also learn new skills and gain new perspectives,’ adds Sofia Kontro Rosales.
Hilti is grateful for the active and productive attitude of the students. The project's findings were presented in a final meeting at the company's Finnish headquarters in Keilaniemi.
‘The co-operation was designed and implemented based on the needs of Hilti staff. We hoped for concrete development ideas, and we really got them. Both the final report covering the project and the presentation held at our headquarters were excellent,’ says Forsström-Tuominen.
Customised student business projects at the School of Business offer diverse learning opportunities for both students and customer companies.
‘It was a pleasure to be involved in this successful project. The company gave a clear assignment and a problem to solve. The topic was interesting and relevant, not only for Hilti but also for many other companies. The findings sparked a great deal of discussion in the final meeting, which means that all parties were able to benefit from this project,’ Professor Marjo-Riitta Diehl says.