In a tight job market, employers are looking for ways to stand out and attract the best candidates, but what makes a true employer of choice, where people don’t just take a job but stay, grow, and thrive?
The job is just the start of what makes Komatsu an employer of choice. Colin Shaw, Komatsu Australia’s Executive General Manager, People and Strategy, says it starts with getting recruitment right but goes much further.
Komatsu Australia has won several awards for its human resource focus and the positive experience of its employees. Most recently, it was named in the 2023 AFR BOSS Best Places to Work List.
“Komatsu Australia is always proud to be recognised for our commitment to creating an environment that empowers employees to grow, excel and achieve their personal and professional goals. We really do believe that a supportive and positive work environment is critical to our success,” Shaw says.
He believes people will join a company for a job that pays well, offers good conditions, and offers opportunities to learn new skills. But the best employers want to do more than just get people through the door.
“We want our people to feel truly valued, to see real rewards for their commitment and to be able to achieve their goals both in and outside of work,” he says. “We want people to feel like they can bring their whole selves to work.
“We’ve strongly focused on what makes for a good workplace. We start from the basic elements like great facilities to address some less visible challenges. Some of those challenges include creating career pathways for women and other under-represented groups and giving our people time to do the things that matter to them. We are known for walking our talk on topics like flexible working, bullying, and all the other things that can make the difference between a great day at work and one that is not so great.”
Getting it right, right from the start
Komatsu’s award-winning Apprentice Development System has revolutionised how apprentices and trainees are trained and developed in the industry. It has earned widespread recognition, including Silver for Large Employer of the Year and Silver for Employing Australian Apprentices at the National Training Awards in 2022.
“The way our system is designed means that by the time our apprentices complete the program, they’ve achieved a competency level that would take about another year of experience for apprentices trained in conventional programs. It really supercharges our apprentices’ careers and helps them to reach their potential,” Shaw says.
The apprentice program is managed through the Komatsu Training Academy, which has two state-of-the-art, purpose-built education centres in Brisbane and Perth, giving the company a strong presence on both the east and west coast.
“Our facilities offer a highly interactive and technologically advanced learning environment, and our workshop labs are specifically designed to deliver hands-on training for construction and mining class machines, ensuring that students gain practical skills and experience,” Shaw says.
“Our training facilities also incorporate several simulators, so trainees can safely learn on a range of machines from small utility machines right up to an ultra-class heavy excavator.”
The company currently has over 300 apprentices in training on the west coast and more than 200 on the east coast. It plans to build the total to over 600 in the coming year.
Half the current WA apprentices are women, and Komatsu selects apprentices based on potential rather than age. A few years back, they had a 47-year-old apprentice, and in the current intake, there are apprentices in their 30s.
“Flexibility for us isn’t just about how you structure a workday. It’s about how you think about what makes a good apprentice, a good mechanic, or any other role,” Shaw says.
Komatsu also recognises the importance of equipping apprentices with important life skills, such as mental health awareness, public speaking, road safety and fatigue management, drug and alcohol awareness, and various business skill sets.
Training never ends
The Komatsu Training Academy not only gives apprentices a great start to their careers but also supports continued training and upskilling for their people at every level.
“A big focus of the academy is upskilling people in their current roles, whether in leadership and management, operator skill proficiency development or customised technical training. We offer a mix of fully accredited courses and modules, along with purpose-designed operator, technical and management training,” Shaw says.
“Both our training academies are backed by expertly skilled trainers aimed at building the future workforce. Many of our training and courses focus on autonomous methods or using technology like Komatsu’s Smart Construction offering. The technology they’re learning about will ultimately help operators become more precise and accurate, leading to better on-site productivity.”
Komatsu Australia recently doubled its annual training investment to $12 million to drive greater impact for apprentices, industry, and the economy.
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Families at Komatsu
Shaw says recognising that their people have responsibilities outside of work is essential.
“We understand the impact that happy and healthy families have on our people and community,” he says.
“If we can make it easier for our people to balance work with having children and raising their families, then, of course, we should. It means our people are happier, and we can keep those incredible employees who might otherwise feel they need to step out of the workforce to pursue their personal goals. It’s a win-win.”
The new Families at Komatsu replaces the company’s paid parental leave scheme and is a much broader program designed to provide benefits and support to all types of families so that everyone can thrive in the business’ inclusive culture.
Key elements of the program include 16 weeks of paid leave for the primary carer of a new baby, plus four weeks of bonding leave for the secondary carer; plus, special paid leave for people who experience miscarriage or stillbirth.
A structured return-to-work program makes it easier to return to a role and provides ongoing access to flexible work arrangements.
“We’re really proud of this comprehensive program which really is about our people’s wellbeing,” Shaw says.
Inclusive means everyone, every day
Komatsu has led the industry by putting diversity and inclusion on the agenda. The brand has won a range of awards for its Say Again? program to address casual workplace sexism and for its industry-leading training programs.
“We are always looking for opportunities to highlight the benefits diversity can bring to our organisation and address the barriers that may hold us back,” Shaw says. “We’re doing very well in our entry-level roles, with goals of 30-50 per cent women, compared with an industry benchmark of less than a third.
“We’re also making inroads on increasing female representation further up the corporate ladder by thinking more openly about the key skills in some of our leadership roles to enable us to recruit from a wider pool of applicants. That means that we don’t just look to people with a technical background – typically men in our industry – for roles where the key skills are around communication.”
Komatsu has partnered with the Western Sydney Wanderers women’s football team as part of its diversity and inclusion program.
“The [Western Sydney] Wanderers’ strategy echoes our business strategies here at Komatsu. We are both focused on creating an environment that offers equality and opportunities for women because we understand and know the unique value they can bring our workforce and teams,” Shaw says.
Komatsu supports its people to do the things that matter to them through initiatives like the Live Your Dream program. It provides $10,000 grants for employees to support a not-for-profit organisation or charity of their choice.
Shaw says the program is one Komatsu is proud to deliver for its employees.
“This initiative helps our people to support the causes they care about. It allows them to do something special they normally don’t have the provisions to do outside of work,” he says.
To find out more about Komatsu and the career opportunities available, head to www.komatsu.com.au/careers
This article was originally published in the August edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.