When in-person, SAPPHIRE NOW is three consecutive days of sessions, meetings, and a firehose of information. At the virtual SAPPHIRE NOW 2021, the event is spread out over multiple weeks, allowing for SAP to highlight specific tracks and areas on individual days. On Wednesday, it was HR’s turn kicked off by SAP’s HR keynote. The hour-plus session transitioned between live and recorded speakers, showing off demos along with insights from customers, partners, and industry experts.
Adapting HR and employee experience to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic was the theme throughout the keynote, which began with Jill Popelka, SAP SuccessFactors president, declaring, “It isn’t technology alone that helped companies that advanced in the new world, it was people.”
Citing studies of large-scale job loss, which particularly impacted women, the risk of burnout from working remotely, and the driving force of creating diverse and equitable work environments, Popelka set the stage for the products and stories SAP would be highlighting during its HR event.
Before giving its customers the stage, SAP showed its own efforts to improve employee experience, pointing to its new flexible work initiative created from employee feedback and discussing its performance and goals transformation with SAP SuccessFactors. SAP says it now has aligned goals for 95% of 100,000 employees and is transitioning to Continuous Performance Management.
Crocs Implements ‘Progressive People Practices’
After SAP shared its HR transformation journey, Crocs Chief People Officer Shannon Sisler joined the program to discuss how the casual shoe purveyor has adjusted to the new normal of flexible work and HR transformation.
“We are passionate about progressive people practices,” said Sisler.
Those progressive practices include defined personas for each role within the company, in which the expectations around working from the office and travel are clearly stated. This transparency is for staff as well as prospective employees.
Crocs also created quarterly performance discussions, which it calls “pace checks.” These are employee-led rather than manager-led and emphasize listening to employees. Ratings have been eliminated, and “authentic conversations” are the goals. To bolster this effort, Sisler said Crocs is doing lots more listening to employees and utilizing “listening tools.”
Finally, to address burnout, Crocs has introduced “employee comfort days,” which are extra vacation days that encourage employees to take a break and “unplug” from work.
HR Transformation at Microsoft and Grupo Perez
In addition to Crocs, Microsoft and Grupo Perez also joined the show to discuss their experiences with SAP SuccessFactors and HR transformation. Microsoft Senior Director of HR Digital Transformation Prerna Ajmera appeared live and overcame a brief technical interruption to share that the software giant is running SAP SuccessFactors on—you guessed it—Azure.
She also emphasized a key point around getting buy-in for an HR technology project, suggesting that companies focus less on the cost of HR transformation and instead focus on the value of improving employee experience. The task for vendors like SAP will be providing the data on that value.
Later, Grupo Perez CHRO Pablo Maison said his company’s HR technology overhaul is driven by “simplifying processes, improving employee experience, and freeing up time in HR to focus on transformation and not transactions.” He notes that they have implemented SAP SuccessFactors, Qualtrics for employee listening and feedback, and a single HR interface for employees—this seemed to be a nod to the key elements of the newly announced Rise with SAP for HXM offering.
Royal Mail Group Implements SAP Work Zone for HR
The UK’s Royal Mail Group is also building a single HR interface for its employees with the help of SAP Work Zone for HR. Adam Walden, IT portfolio director at Royal Mail Group, said this company initiative is called “The Fridge.”
Royal Mail Group is using SAP Work Zone for HR to “bring people in one place for all HR requirements and for the apps and services they need,” explained Walden.
SAP also took time to demonstrate the capabilities of SAP Work Zone for HR, showing a theoretical example of how companies can use it to house the apps and services an employee needs in a single interface:
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?
- Use the knowledge and experience of the past year to improve your organization. SAP and Crocs talked about how their organizations adapt to a new reality of remote work and the expectations that come from that, which drives them to create new policies and adopt new technologies. Later, industry analyst Josh Greenbaum pointed out that many of the interruptions associated with remote work—kids and pets—were “actually okay” and that companies have learned there is value in flexible work and adapting to new HR processes. Your organization likely learned a lot about flexibility in the past year—don’t let that go to waste. We hypothesize that the rise of remote work has driven companies to change in our study on The State of Human Experience in the Workplace. Please take this survey and let us know how your company is addressing employee experience.
- Improving employee experience is essential to HR Transformation. For all of these organizations, the motivation for transforming HR processes and technologies was to make themselves a better place to work. This involved updating performance and goals processes, creating more transparent job roles and flexible work arrangements, and implementing technology that makes it easy for employees to interact with HR and go through their daily work.
- Make sure your company changes at its optimal pace. Sometimes at these events, it can feel like every company is adopting the latest and greatest technology all the time. However, if you take a step back, you’ll realize that SAP itself only recently updated its performance processes with Continuous Performance Management—a product it announced years ago. Analyst Jon Reed said during the keynote that “These are long term goals, transformation. It’s important to break them down and make it manageable; otherwise, people are overwhelmed with this concept.” There are legitimate drivers for HR transformation, but ensure your changes fit your company’s needs and goals at a pace that your people can handle.
- Discover what happier, more engaged employees would mean. The advice from Microsoft’s Ajmera stands out: You need to frame any HR spend in the context of the impact of improving employee experience. For example, if employees are happier and more engaged with their work, how will that affect retention and absenteeism? Or how will it impact your company’s reputation? If your workers are more aware of their performance related to their goals and company goals, how will that affect the company’s performance overall? These are the conversations that can turn the discussion of HR transformation from a cost to an investment.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Craig is an HCM and GRC analyst for SAPinsider. He has covered the SAP technology ecosystem, including an emphasis in SAP SuccessFactors, for more than eight years. In that time he has forged important relationships throughout the industry, worked with customers and vendors to optimize investments in enterprise technology, and helped to tell the important stories along the way. Follow Craig on LinkedIn and Twitter for more HCM and GRC insights.