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Annual report 2013

Employees are our most important asset

Kesko and K-stores offer a wide range of career and development opportunities in the trading sector. As the operating environment and customer needs change, the continuous development of staff competence is increasingly important.

Diverse working community:

  • At the end of 2014, Kesko had a total of 23,794 employees in all of the countries where it operates.
  • The average age of employees in Finland was 36 years in 2014. In other countries, the average age varied between 27 and 46 years.
  • In Finland, women accounted for 58.8% and men for 41.2% of all employees. The corresponding figures in other countries were 51.5% and 48.5% respectively.
  • Lengths of employees’ careers: under 10 years 68.3% and over 10 years 31.7% in Finland and, respectively, 92.8% and 7.2% in other countries.

More figures on personnel in the GRI section.


Did you know?

Kesko has been a member of Diversity Charter Finland since 2013. Equality, justice and non-discrimination are important principles which are observed in Kesko throughout the employment.


Kesko and the retailer entrepreneurs in its chains − the K-Group − employ around 45,000 people in eight countries. Jobs vary from retail store duties to retailer entrepreneurship and supervisory and specialist jobs in various fields. A job at a store provides a good basis for work in all K-Group jobs – therefore, for example, K-trainees and retailer trainees spend most of their time in retail stores.

Kesko aims to be the most attractive employer in the trading sector. Kesko employees and retailers regularly visit business colleges, polytechnics and universities, as well as recruitment fairs and other events to talk about career opportunities in the K-Group.

Major changes in the sector require new competencies

Changes in the retail operating environment, the long recession, staff reductions and other sectors’ appeal have contributed to the fact that the trading sector’s reputation in employer surveys has dropped in recent years. In the 2014 Universum Young Professionals survey, Kesko’s ranking was 29 (17 in 2013 and 10 in 2012) based on the replies of young business professionals.

Due to the ageing population and changes in the employment structure, the trading sector may face labour shortages in the future. When consumer behaviour and customer needs change, the trading sector must also change in order to continue exceeding customer expectations – both online and in physical stores. Major changes in the sector and the growth of electronic transactions have created a need for new competencies: in the next few years, Kesko and its chains will have a particular need for digital experts and e-commerce professionals.

Kesko’s strategy work started in early 2015. All areas of Kesko’s operations are examined in the process and personnel is engaged in strategy work. In February 2015, a specific website was opened on Keskonet, the Kesko intranet, encouraging personnel to express their views on how the business of Kesko or their own unit should be developed.

Continuous competence development

Systematic, business-driven employee development is a critical factor for future success. Core areas in competence development include sales and service competence, product line specific projects to provide competitive advantage, immediate supervisory work and leadership, as well as e-commerce and e-services.

Kesko focuses on the development of all of its employees by offering training and diverse career paths, as competent people are needed to overhaul the business. The large size of Kesko group offers opportunities to employees who aim to expand their competencies and move from one job, company or division to another. There were about 1,900 internal transfers in Finland and about 2,500 in other operating countries.

Training on the web

E-learning has become an increasingly popular means of complementing on-site learning and in recent years the focus has been on promoting and developing this option.

Staff responsibility training has increased in recent years. When the K-responsibility concept was adopted, a related web training programme was prepared for food stores and building and home improvement stores. A web training course on responsibility, intended for all employees, was prepared in the autumn of 2014. The course, published in February 2015, is compulsory for all Kesko people and the number of course completions will be monitored.

K-instituutti is responsible for organising the Master Sales Assistant training programme, which is one of the biggest adult training programmes in Finland.

Wellbeing in the working community

Competent, healthy employees create value for Kesko and K-store customers. The targets of increasing wellbeing at work include increasing staff commitment, promoting health, increasing the retirement age and enhancing the employer image, thereby raising labour productivity.

The basic premise of wellbeing at work is that employees work in a safe environment and feel that they know how to do their work. Theme years based on the wellbeing at work programme are organised for employees. The themes of 2014 and 2015 are the development of supervisory work and leadership to promote the commitment of employees and ensure efficient cooperation on occupational health and safety.

Key tools in developing supervisory work include:

  • Let’s Talk about Work coaching
  • Performance Management coaching
  • Employee Engagement coaching, and
  • A comprehensive e-coaching programme covering different areas of supervisory work, completed in 2014.

Did you know?

Theme years based on the wellbeing at work programmes are organised for employees. See the video.


Personnel survey helps develop operations

The personnel survey is one of the most important tools for developing internal working practices and the quality of the supervisory work.

The personnel survey is conducted simultaneously throughout Kesko Group and at some of the K-stores. The survey measures employees’ commitment to the organisation, practices that enable good work performance, employees’ wellbeing at work and their satisfaction with the operations of their immediate supervisors and the management.

In the 2014 personnel survey, the response rate was higher than before: 81% (78% in 2013). Employees felt that cooperation with other employees was very good, at 82% (80%). The assessment given to supervisory work improved to 73% (72%). The greatest decrease was seen in the employee engagement index which dropped to 53% (55%).

Supervisors always discuss the results of their personnel surveys with their personnel. Based on the results, development actions are agreed and integrated into an annual action and personnel plan whose implementation is monitored.

Support at different stages of career

Kesko aims to take care of its personnel throughout their careers. Employees’ physical activities and cultural hobbies are supported in various ways and, if necessary, employees are directed towards rehabilitation that maintains their working ability.

The Rehabilitation Foundation and Kesko are jointly implementing a project entitled ’Support for working ability and learning at the beginning of career’ in 2013−2015. One of the objectives of the project is to identify and increase awareness of learning difficulties.

Work in the K-Group

Every fifth person under 25 who has found work is employed in the trading sector. For many young people, a K-store provides their first experience of working life.

The K-Group annually employs thousands of summer employees, job trainees, young people for short-term orientation to working life and for short-term jobs called ’Learn and Earn’. Most of jobs are in retail stores but Kesko also regularly employs trainees for various operations.

In summer 2014, the K-Group had around 5,000 summer employees in all, nearly 4,000 of whom worked at K-stores and about 1,000 in Kesko Group.

K-job 2014

The K-job 2014 competition sought the K-Group’s best Young Employee of the Year and the Employer of the Young of the Year. The Young Employee of 2014 was Roope Malinen from Rautia Malmi in Helsinki and the Employer of the Young of 2014 was the retailer couple Marjo and Jukka Itkonen from K-citymarket Länsikeskus in Turku. The couple employs 85 food retailing professionals, a quarter of whom are aged under 22.


Did you know?

All employees in Kesko’s eight operating countries are committed to working in accordance with Kesko’s values and responsible operating principles. The guide ‘Our responsible working principles’ , which is published in eight languages, is an integral part of new employees’ inductions.


K-trainee programme and retailer training

Key methods of training professionals for the retailing sector include the K-trainee programme and retailer training.

  • The K-trainee programme is intended for people with a university or polytechnic degree, who are either in the final stages of their studies, have recently graduated or have some work experience. A total of 11 students chosen to participate in the fifth K-trainee programme which was launched in June 2014 and will terminate in August 2015. Out of the 59 K-trainees who have completed one of the four previous K-trainee programmes, 37 worked in specialist and supervisory jobs in Kesko Group at the end of 2014.
  • Future retailers are trained through retailer training programmes. A career as a K-retailer provides many opportunities for developing in the vocation and expanding competence. The K-Group organises training for retailers to provide them with concrete tools for issues such as managing finances and human resources. Further training enforces retailers’ management skills and provides them with abilities to move to more challenging store sites.



“Permanent employees are valuable for entrepreneurs like us. However, we all need to adapt and modify our work in response to current challenges. In order to adapt, we also need a fresh breeze in our working community.

Therefore, we are particularly pleased that we have several active, young trainees who are interested in retailing whom we employ and introduce to the daily routine of the retail store every year. Various school training periods, apprenticeships and offering employment via the Youth Guarantee provide the employer with opportunities to find motivated future retail professionals. At the same time, we’ll have young people on internships or learning their vocation.

Retail competence is generated in workplaces. Competence development tools also play a significant role in vocational learning and further competence development.

We are pleased to be able to participate in projects by which we can contribute to developing the competence of people who have recently started or are planning to start in the sector. Our aim is to have skilled staff as competence is reflected in both better customer service and increased job satisfaction.

It is also rewarding for us to consider the future outlook and pass on the skills and knowledge that we have acquired over the years. The retail trade needs highly skilled people. And skill arises from good induction, training and practical work.”

Jari and Liisa Peltonen are the retailers at Rautia Malmi in Helsinki.





Pictured retailer Pia Heinonen and Jesse Matikainen. Photo: Sari Okko.

The aim of ‘the Youth Guarantee in the K-Group’ programme was to employ 1,000 young people over the course of 2013–2014. By the end of 2014, nearly 1,800 young people had been employed by K-stores and Kesko across Finland.

These excellent results have been achieved by the coordinator, the retailer and the contact person of the Employment and Economic Development Centre working in collaboration. Johanna Kinnunen, the coordinator hired by the K-Group for the programme, has acted as a liaison between employers and the Employment and Economic Development Centres. Her main duty has been to help retailers, department store directors and Kesko’s supervisors in issues related to employing young people.

Johanna Kinnunen has also visited various people and groups to speak about the Youth Guarantee in the K-Group. For example, representatives of 13 EU member countries met at the seminar relating to the employment of young people in Helsinki in autumn 2014. In her speech, she described the implementation of the Youth Guarantee from a company perspective. The initiative has expanded and has also become a development and influencing programme.

‘The Youth Guarantee in the K-Group’ programme has also contributed to increasing apprentice training in the K-Group. Jesse Matikainen (22) is one of the young people who have been able to start apprentice training thanks to the programme.

”Apprentice training has been really great. I get training, a vocation and pay at the same time,” he says at K-supermarket Kaisaniemi.

Though ‘the Youth Guarantee in the K-Group’ programme is due to end, work towards employing young people in the K-Group will continue. Counselling and guidance will still be provided to retailers and supervisors hiring young people in 2015.