Five Tips For Building An Engaged Workforce

Jewell Parkinson

Perhaps the worst kept secret is that engaged employees are essential to sustain a high-performing organization. After all, engaged employees drive the results most business aspire to achieve – productivity, retention, customer loyalty, profitability, and increased shareholder value. These outcomes fuel growth and innovation and offer a competitive edge.

When you have highly engaged people, the sky is the limit and the impossible becomes possible. Power and potential are unleashed by people who are emotionally committed to the purpose and goals of an organization. Conversely, when employees are not engaged, this can spell disaster. What it takes to promote a highly engaged organization is simple: meet the needs of people.

Here are five ways organizations can increase engagement.

1. Treat your employees like your customers

We treat our customers with respect, we listen to them, we encourage them, and we are attentive to their needs. We go above and beyond to show we understand them, their ambitions, their concerns, their constraints, and to help them visualize and realize their potential. We mobilize resources and dedicate time to serve them. We empathize with our customers and strive to create memorable experiences that build loyalty and earn trust. Valuing your employees through your actions and words will increase engagement. This value can be demonstrated by being observant; providing fluid and frequent feedback; serving as leader, cheerleader, and coach; and investing in their development.

2. Promote purpose and exploit passion

As William Shakespeare once wrote,This above all: to thine own self be true.” Stay true. Be clear why your organization exists, embrace your humble beginnings, and be consistent with your values and how they translate into the everyday work experience. Hire and promote leaders who embody these values. Own what it is you strive to do to advance society and serve the common good. These seeds when planted produce pride, which employees need to grow to strengthen their commitment and engagement. This pride must be interwoven into the fabric of the culture.

This sense of pride can also be bolstered by involving employees in philanthropic efforts. Encouraging employees to participate and give back to our communities helps boost engagement as it links a company’s enduring cause to the passions of the individual. People want to work for a company that is committed to make an impact beyond the bottom line. At SAP, our vision is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. This is a profound endeavor. It’s one that all our employees relate to and embrace. We do this not only through the technology we produce, but through social sabbaticals, Month of Service volunteer offerings, and a multitude of sponsorships and related activities. In 2015, over 7,500 SAP North America employees completed over 33,000 hours of community service. Employees feel good about making a difference and having the opportunity to help improve people’s lives.

3. Embrace a servant leadership

The reality remains that most people join companies and leave managers. Leaders play an indispensable role in creating and sustaining the environment for engagement. Focus on the unique needs of each team member to build a sense of community and belonging. Acknowledge the perspectives of others, empower and provide the support needed to meet their professional and personal goals, involve them in decisions, share information, and recognize differentially in ways that resonate with the individual. This leads to higher engagement.

4. Inspire through an inclusive and diverse culture

Qualitative research reveals that employees feel more engaged by being able to bring “all of themselves” to work. Employees are diverse and seek an inclusive environment to contribute their talents and where they can be their authentic selves. This atmosphere cultivates a climate of trust, and with trust comes the freedom to take risks and offer up creative and innovative ideas that result in high-quality solutions and services. This also allows for a more enriching, collaborative employee experience that is at the heart of a highly engaged workforce and also paramount to producing high-performing business outcomes. When employees feel valued and empowered to focus on their strengths and honor their differences, this drives engagement and also serves as a strong competitive advantage.

5. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride!

As the song title goes, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” As it turns out, they’re not the only ones… in fact, we all want to have fun! We need to laugh, we want to connect, and we want to belong, realize our dreams, and have the opportunity to seize the day. Good humor, as opposed to negative sarcasm, can positively impact employee engagement. It serves to help us mange through conflict and find middle ground. Sharing a good laugh can foster and strengthen relationships.

As noted by David Zinger, humor “can be a retention strategy because when you laugh, you last. When we play together, we stay together – and feel stronger connections.”

Competition isn’t your enemy and can be a source of productive fun and a catalyst to new ideas. A little friendly competition between employees fosters collaboration and teamwork and can increase employee engagement. Whether it’s creating a cool video, sponsoring a step competition using fitness trackers, or introducing a “shark tank”-like digital innovation virtual competition – it all drives innovation in a fun, collaborative and highly engaging way.

Learn more about how HR can build an engaged, “all-in” workforce.

Jewell Parkinson

About Jewell Parkinson

Jewell Parkinson is head of Human Resources for SAP North America. As a trusted advisor, she provides HR leadership across the region for all board areas, leads the HR Business Partner organization, and consults and delivers solutions that ensure SAP’s people strategy and programs meet the needs of the region’s more than 19,000 employees. Jewell joined SAP in 1997 and has spent the majority of her tenure as an HR Business Partner, supporting sales, sales support, and corporate functions within the North America region. Most recently, she supported global business units within Global Customer Operations, including Business Networks, the office of the COO, and Corporate Strategy in the office of the CEO. Jewell has provided leadership on various global strategic projects in the areas of global workforce productivity, organization design, and change management.

These Graduates Create Value From Day 1 – Here’s Why

Derek Klobucher

Some of the biggest names in retailing addressed technology, dramatic shifts in consumer behavior and more at the recent Global Retailing Conference 2018. Retail legends and cutting-edge researchers shared insights with startups, old pros, and other attendees, thanks to organizers from the largest university retailing program in the United States.

“The [Lundgren] Center has come to be a valuable resource for students, faculty and retail professionals,” fashion icon Kenneth Cole said at GRC 2018.
     – Kenneth Cole Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing

Retail professionals Cole mentioned include executives from MasterCard, Neiman Marcus, and Yum! Brands, who were also among the conference’s presenters. The students and faculty he mentioned were mostly from the Lundgren Center, which supports the University of Arizona’s Retailing and Consumer Science major—with about 500 students.

“They’re focused on retail—they’re excited about retail,” retired Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren said of Lundgren Center alumni. “And they’ve been educated about all of the aspects of retail.”

Guiding retail’s future to success

“You’ve got the conference focused on new ideas, innovation, technology … and how to get in front of the consumer,” recently retired Macy’s Chairman and CEO—and the Center’s namesake—Terry Lundgren said during a video interview with SAP at the Global Retailing Conference 2018. “It’s very exciting for those executives who are here, which make up about 85 percent of the attendance, and the rest are the students.”

These students learned about retail’s most pressing pain points, as well as career opportunities ranging from marketing to technology—Macy’s is even hiring data scientists—according to Lundgren. And brands from Walmart to Nike and others get to meet potential recruits who are specifically interested in the industry.

“They’re focused on retail—they’re excited about retail,” Lundgren said. “And they’ve been educated about all of the aspects of retail.”

This includes the good and the bad, as retail insiders and outsiders seek the Lundgren Center’s insights.

“When physical stores are back in line with proper demand, that’s when you’re going to start to see growth again from the brick-and-mortar side,” retired Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren said at GRC 2018.

The upside of shrinking retail space

“We have way too much retail space,” Lundgren Center Director Scott Hessell said in local news last week, putting into perspective disappearing retail space. “It’s going to shrink.”

This is part of a retail market correction that Lundgren also addressed at the conference. The rise of e-commerce—reaching 10 percent of retail transactions last year—effectively increased the supply of goods and services without a corresponding increase in demand, according to Lundgren.

“There have to be fewer physical stores in the United States—there was oversupply to begin with,” Lundgren said during his GRC 2018 keynote. “When physical stores are back in line with proper demand, that’s when you’re going to start to see growth again from the brick-and-mortar side.”

Knowledge about these types of retail issues—as well as experience in the industry—gives Lundgren Center alumni a leg up over other new hires, according to Lundgren. And graduates add value to their new employers from Day 1.

“[The Lundgren Center] is unlike anything else that I’m familiar with, as is Terry Lundgren” fashion icon Kenneth Cole (right) said of the retired Macy’s CEO (left).

Maximizing transformative potential

“I am so grateful that I had my wakeup call during the college experience here at the University of Arizona,” Lundgren told SAP. “And having my name attached to the Retail Center is a huge honor for me.”

Lundgren was the only one from his family—his parents and five siblings—to graduate from university; he sees his work with the Lundgren Center as a way of giving back to the university that changed his life. Other retailing legends clearly see the transformative potential of the Center too.

“It is unlike anything else that I’m familiar with,” Cole said, “as is Terry Lundgren.”

This story originally appeared on SAP Innovation Spotlight. Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

For more insight on emerging technology in the retail sector, see Retail IoT: How To Streamline Inventory Supply Chains.

Derek Klobucher

About Derek Klobucher

Derek Klobucher is a digital storyteller, writer and video journalist for SAP.

How JP Morgan Chase Saves $50 Million Each Year

Susan Galer

Jonathan Ridgwell, global supplier services operations director at JPMorgan Chase & Co., has learned a lot since his company began centralizing business processes across 17 countries some 15 years ago. He shared four major lessons during a keynote talk with DJ Paoni, president of SAP North America, at the recent SAP Ariba Live event. The company initially introduced SAP ERP, followed by Concur travel and expense, and Ariba for procurement, before SAP acquired both companies.

Lesson #1: Think big outside your function

Coming from a technology background, Ridgwell has a passion for efficiency and accuracy, but quickly discovered how intelligence is changing the role of procurement.

“I was managing these functions as separate pieces at first, thinking this is what I need to make us as efficient, cheap, and user-friendly as possible,” he said. “As time went on, I realized that we’re all part of a continuum, and procurement can take the lead in driving more collaborative ways of doing business throughout the entire company, driving innovation and real value for the business,” he said.”

By feeding procurement data into its centralized system, JPMorgan Chase has achieved $1 million in early payment discounts per $1 billion spent. What’s more, procurement’s benefits are negating its costs.

“We’re thinking about how sourcing can help us when we’re negotiating contracts, and this has enabled us to grow procurement’s role with significant benefits to the firm,” said Ridgwell. “We’re saving $50 million annually. On top of that, the early payment discounts mean that we’re becoming a revenue generator rather than a cost for the firm. We’re not just paying invoices and procuring things, but we’re doing it at negative cost to the business.”

Lesson #2: Get senior backing for global consistency

Gaining senior-level management support was crucial to the firm’s transformation, from board-level through the C-suite leadership team. “We shared the business case with our CFO, asked her to buy into it, and she sold it to the board and the CEO,” said Ridgwell. “When anyone came to us and wanted to do something different, they couldn’t because leadership was behind it.”

Lesson #3: Strong change management

Open communication was critical to gaining global buy-in for a standard operating model.

“In addition to efficient project management, one of the key elements our managers do is communicate,” he said. “You need everyone to know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, why you’re doing it, and when you’re doing it. You end up taking away some small elements of functionality people are familiar with, and those can be sticking points. You can’t allow that to get in the way. Everyone has to understand and accept the shared vision.”

Lesson #4: Technologists make great operations managers

One of Ridgwell’s epiphanies was how technologists like him make great operations managers. “We asked do we really want people pushing buttons all day and not adding value? We want people running analytics, looking for fraud, finding trends and new markets. It’s much more interesting for the workforce, being able to upskill the procurement role by automation.”

Ridgwell tied procurement’s transformation directly to the company’s commitment to purpose and making the customer experience as frictionless as possible.

“Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do whether you’re dealing with a small or large customer. Having our platforms on SAP has enabled us to make sure we’re doing that through understanding the data and having a frictionless process for spend management,” he said.

Learn How To Avoid Three Common Mistakes In Measuring Procurement Performance.

This article originally appeared on Forbes SAPVoice.

Susan Galer

About Susan Galer

Susan Galer is the Communications Director, SAP News Services.

The Human Angle

By Jenny Dearborn, David Judge, Tom Raftery, and Neal Ungerleider

In a future teeming with robots and artificial intelligence, humans seem to be on the verge of being crowded out. But in reality the opposite is true.

To be successful, organizations need to become more human than ever.

Organizations that focus only on automation will automate away their competitive edge. The most successful will focus instead on skills that set them apart and that can’t be duplicated by AI or machine learning. Those skills can be summed up in one word: humanness.

You can see it in the numbers. According to David J. Deming of the Harvard Kennedy School, demand for jobs that require social skills has risen nearly 12 percentage points since 1980, while less-social jobs, such as computer coding, have declined by a little over 3 percentage points.

AI is in its infancy, which means that it cannot yet come close to duplicating our most human skills. Stefan van Duin and Naser Bakhshi, consultants at professional services company Deloitte, break down artificial intelligence into two types: narrow and general. Narrow AI is good at specific tasks, such as playing chess or identifying facial expressions. General AI, which can learn and solve complex, multifaceted problems the way a human being does, exists today only in the minds of futurists.

The only thing narrow artificial intelligence can do is automate. It can’t empathize. It can’t collaborate. It can’t innovate. Those abilities, if they ever come, are still a long way off. In the meantime, AI’s biggest value is in augmentation. When human beings work with AI tools, the process results in a sort of augmented intelligence. This augmented intelligence outperforms the work of either human beings or AI software tools on their own.

AI-powered tools will be the partners that free employees and management to tackle higher-level challenges.

Those challenges will, by default, be more human and social in nature because many rote, repetitive tasks will be automated away. Companies will find that developing fundamental human skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, within the organization will take on a new importance. These skills can’t be automated and they won’t become process steps for algorithms anytime soon.

In a world where technology change is constant and unpredictable, those organizations that make the fullest use of uniquely human skills will win. These skills will be used in collaboration with both other humans and AI-fueled software and hardware tools. The degree of humanness an organization possesses will become a competitive advantage.

This means that today’s companies must think about hiring, training, and leading differently. Most of today’s corporate training programs focus on imparting specific knowledge that will likely become obsolete over time.

Instead of hiring for portfolios of specific subject knowledge, organizations should instead hire—and train—for more foundational skills, whose value can’t erode away as easily.

Recently, educational consulting firm Hanover Research looked at high-growth occupations identified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and determined the core skills required in each of them based on a database that it had developed. The most valuable skills were active listening, speaking, and critical thinking—giving lie to the dismissive term soft skills. They’re not soft; they’re human.

This doesn’t mean that STEM skills won’t be important in the future. But organizations will find that their most valuable employees are those with both math and social skills.

That’s because technical skills will become more perishable as AI shifts the pace of technology change from linear to exponential. Employees will require constant retraining over time. For example, roughly half of the subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree, such as computer science, is already outdated by the time students graduate, according to The Future of Jobs, a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF’s report further notes that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist.” By contrast, human skills such as interpersonal communication and project management will remain consistent over the years.

For example, organizations already report that they are having difficulty finding people equipped for the Big Data era’s hot job: data scientist. That’s because data scientists need a combination of hard and soft skills. Data scientists can’t just be good programmers and statisticians; they also need to be intuitive and inquisitive and have good communication skills. We don’t expect all these qualities from our engineering graduates, nor from most of our employees.

But we need to start.

From Self-Help to Self-Skills

Even if most schools and employers have yet to see it, employees are starting to understand that their future viability depends on improving their innately human qualities. One of the most popular courses on Coursera, an online learning platform, is called Learning How to Learn. Created by the University of California, San Diego, the course is essentially a master class in human skills: students learn everything from memory techniques to dealing with procrastination and communicating complicated ideas, according to an article in The New York Times.

Attempting to teach employees how to make behavioral changes has always seemed off-limits to organizations—the province of private therapists, not corporate trainers. But that outlook is changing.

Although there is a longstanding assumption that social skills are innate, nothing is further from the truth. As the popularity of Learning How to Learn attests, human skills—everything from learning skills to communication skills to empathy—can, and indeed must, be taught.

These human skills are integral for training workers for a workplace where artificial intelligence and automation are part of the daily routine. According to the WEF’s New Vision for Education report, the skills that employees will need in the future fall into three primary categories:

  • Foundational literacies: These core skills needed for the coming age of robotics and AI include understanding the basics of math, science, computing, finance, civics, and culture. While mastery of every topic isn’t required, workers who have a basic comprehension of many different areas will be richly rewarded in the coming economy.
  • Competencies: Developing competencies requires mastering very human skills, such as active listening, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration.
  • Character qualities: Over the next decade, employees will need to master the skills that will help them grasp changing job duties and responsibilities. This means learning the skills that help employees acquire curiosity, initiative, persistence, grit, adaptability, leadership, and social and cultural awareness.

The good news is that learning human skills is not completely divorced from how work is structured today. Yonatan Zunger, a Google engineer with a background working with AI, argues that there is a considerable need for human skills in the workplace already—especially in the tech world. Many employees are simply unaware that when they are working on complicated software or hardware projects, they are using empathy, strategic problem solving, intuition, and interpersonal communication.

The unconscious deployment of human skills takes place even more frequently when employees climb the corporate ladder into management. “This is closely tied to the deeper difference between junior and senior roles: a junior person’s job is to find answers to questions; a senior person’s job is to find the right questions to ask,” says Zunger.

Human skills will be crucial to navigating the AI-infused workplace. There will be no shortage of need for the right questions to ask.

One of the biggest changes narrow AI tools will bring to the workplace is an evolution in how work is performed. AI-based tools will automate repetitive tasks across a wide swath of industries, which means that the day-to-day work for many white-collar workers will become far more focused on tasks requiring problem solving and critical thinking. These tasks will present challenges centered on interpersonal collaboration, clear communication, and autonomous decision-making—all human skills.

Being More Human Is Hard

However, the human skills that are essential for tomorrow’s AI-ified workplace, such as interpersonal communication, project planning, and conflict management, require a different approach from traditional learning. Often, these skills don’t just require people to learn new facts and techniques; they also call for basic changes in the ways individuals behave on—and off—the job.

Attempting to teach employees how to make behavioral changes has always seemed off-limits to organizations—the province of private therapists, not corporate trainers. But that outlook is changing. As science gains a better understanding of how the human brain works, many behaviors that affect employees on the job are understood to be universal and natural rather than individual (see “Human Skills 101”).

Human Skills 101

As neuroscience has improved our understanding of the brain, human skills have become increasingly quantifiable—and teachable.

Though the term soft skills has managed to hang on in the popular lexicon, our understanding of these human skills has increased to the point where they aren’t soft at all: they are a clearly definable set of skills that are crucial for organizations in the AI era.

Active listening: Paying close attention when receiving information and drawing out more information than received in normal discourse

Critical thinking: Gathering, analyzing, and evaluating issues and information to come to an unbiased conclusion

Problem solving: Finding solutions to problems and understanding the steps used to solve the problem

Decision-making: Weighing the evidence and options at hand to determine a specific course of action

Monitoring: Paying close attention to an issue, topic, or interaction in order to retain information for the future

Coordination: Working with individuals and other groups to achieve common goals

Social perceptiveness: Inferring what others are thinking by observing them

Time management: Budgeting and allocating time for projects and goals and structuring schedules to minimize conflicts and maximize productivity

Creativity: Generating ideas, concepts, or inferences that can be used to create new things

Curiosity: Desiring to learn and understand new or unfamiliar concepts

Imagination: Conceiving and thinking about new ideas, concepts, or images

Storytelling: Building narratives and concepts out of both new and existing ideas

Experimentation: Trying out new ideas, theories, and activities

Ethics: Practicing rules and standards that guide conduct and guarantee rights and fairness

Empathy: Identifying and understanding the emotional states of others

Collaboration: Working with others, coordinating efforts, and sharing resources to accomplish a common project

Resiliency: Withstanding setbacks, avoiding discouragement, and persisting toward a larger goal

Resistance to change, for example, is now known to result from an involuntary chemical reaction in the brain known as the fight-or-flight response, not from a weakness of character. Scientists and psychologists have developed objective ways of identifying these kinds of behaviors and have come up with universally applicable ways for employees to learn how to deal with them.

Organizations that emphasize such individual behavioral traits as active listening, social perceptiveness, and experimentation will have both an easier transition to a workplace that uses AI tools and more success operating in it.

Framing behavioral training in ways that emphasize its practical application at work and in advancing career goals helps employees feel more comfortable confronting behavioral roadblocks without feeling bad about themselves or stigmatized by others. It also helps organizations see the potential ROI of investing in what has traditionally been dismissed as touchy-feely stuff.

In fact, offering objective means for examining inner behaviors and tools for modifying them is more beneficial than just leaving the job to employees. For example, according to research by psychologist Tasha Eurich, introspection, which is how most of us try to understand our behaviors, can actually be counterproductive.

Human beings are complex creatures. There is generally way too much going on inside our minds to be able to pinpoint the conscious and unconscious behaviors that drive us to act the way we do. We wind up inventing explanations—usually negative—for our behaviors, which can lead to anxiety and depression, according to Eurich’s research.

Structured, objective training can help employees improve their human skills without the negative side effects. At SAP, for example, we offer employees a course on conflict resolution that uses objective research techniques for determining what happens when people get into conflicts. Employees learn about the different conflict styles that researchers have identified and take an assessment to determine their own style of dealing with conflict. Then employees work in teams to discuss their different styles and work together to resolve a specific conflict that one of the group members is currently experiencing.

How Knowing One’s Self Helps the Organization

Courses like this are helpful not just for reducing conflicts between individuals and among teams (and improving organizational productivity); they also contribute to greater self-awareness, which is the basis for enabling people to take fullest advantage of their human skills.

Self-awareness is a powerful tool for improving performance at both the individual and organizational levels. Self-aware people are more confident and creative, make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. They are also less likely to lie, cheat, and steal, according to Eurich.

It naturally follows that such people make better employees and are more likely to be promoted. They also make more effective leaders with happier employees, which makes the organization more profitable, according to research by Atuma Okpara and Agwu M. Edwin.

There are two types of self-awareness, writes Eurich. One is having a clear view inside of one’s self: one’s own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. The second type is understanding how others view us in terms of these same categories.

Interestingly, while we often assume that those who possess one type of awareness also possess the other, there is no direct correlation between the two. In fact, just 10% to 15% of people have both, according to a survey by Eurich. That means that the vast majority of us must learn one or the other—or both.

Gaining self-awareness is a process that can take many years. But training that gives employees the opportunity to examine their own behaviors against objective standards and gain feedback from expert instructors and peers can help speed up the journey. Just like the conflict management course, there are many ways to do this in a practical context that benefits employees and the organization alike.

For example, SAP also offers courses on building self-confidence, increasing trust with peers, creating connections with others, solving complex problems, and increasing resiliency in the face of difficult situations—all of which increase self-awareness in constructive ways. These human-skills courses are as popular with our employees as the hard-skill courses in new technologies or new programming techniques.

Depending on an organization’s size, budget, and goals, learning programs like these can include small group training, large lectures, online courses, licensing of third-party online content, reimbursement for students to attain certification, and many other models.

Human Skills Are the Constant

Automation and artificial intelligence will change the workplace in unpredictable ways. One thing we can predict, however, is that human skills will be needed more than ever.

The connection between conflict resolution skills, critical thinking courses, and the rise of AI-aided technology might not be immediately obvious. But these new AI tools are leading us down the path to a much more human workplace.

Employees will interact with their computers through voice conversations and image recognition. Machine learning will find unexpected correlations in massive amounts of data but empathy and creativity will be required for data scientists to figure out the right questions to ask. Interpersonal communication will become even more important as teams coordinate between offices, remote workplaces, and AI aides.

While the future might be filled with artificial intelligence, deep learning, and untold amounts of data, uniquely human capabilities will be the ones that matter. Machines can’t write a symphony, design a building, teach a college course, or manage a department. The future belongs to humans working with machines, and for that, you need human skills. D!

About the Authors

Jenny Dearborn is Chief Learning Officer at SAP.

David Judge is Vice President, SAP Leonardo, at SAP.

Tom Raftery is Global Vice President and Internet of Things Evangelist at SAP.

Neal Ungerleider is a Los Angeles-based technology journalist and consultant.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


HR In The Age Of Digital Transformation

Neha Makkar Patnaik

HR has come a long way from the days of being called Personnel Management. It’s now known as People & Culture, Employee Experience, or simply People, and the changes in the last few years have been especially far-reaching, to say the least; seismic even.

While focused until recently on topics like efficiency and direct access to HR data and services for individual employees, a new and expanded HR transformation is underway, led by employee experience, cloud capabilities including mobile and continuous upgrades, a renewed focus on talent, as well as the availability of new digital technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. These capabilities are enabling HR re-imagine new ways of delivering HR services and strategies throughout the organization. For example:

  • Use advanced prediction and optimization technologies to shift focus from time-consuming candidate-screening processes to innovative HR strategies and business models that support growth
  • Help employees with tailored career paths, push personalized learning recommendations, suggest mentors and mentees based on skills and competencies
  • Predict flight risk of employees and prescribe mitigation strategies for at-risk talent
  • Leverage intelligent management of high-volume, rules-based events with predictions and recommendations

Whereas the traditional view of HR transformation was all about doing existing things better, the next generation of HR transformation is focused on doing completely new things.

These new digital aspects of HR transformation do not replace the existing focus on automation and efficiency. They work hand in hand and, in many cases, digital technologies can further augment automation. Digital approaches are becoming increasingly important, and a digital HR strategy must be a key component of HR’s overall strategy and, therefore, the business strategy.

For years, HR had been working behind a wall, finally got a seat at the table, and now it’s imperative for CHROs to be a strategic partner in the organization’s digital journey. This is what McKinsey calls “Leading with the G-3” in An Agenda for the Talent-First CEO, in which the CEO, CFO, and CHRO (i.e., the “G-3”) ensure HR and finance work in tandem, with the CEO being the linchpin and the person who ensures the talent agenda is threaded into business decisions and not a passive response or afterthought.

However, technology and executive alignment aren’t enough to drive a company’s digital transformation. At the heart of every organization are its people – its most expensive and valuable asset. Keeping them engaged and motivated fosters an innovation culture that is essential for success. This Gallup study reveals that a whopping 85% of employees worldwide are performing below their potential due to engagement issues.

HR experiences that are based on consumer-grade digital experiences along with a focus on the employee’s personal and professional well-being will help engage every worker, inspiring them to do their best and helping them turn every organization’s purpose into performance. Because, we believe, purpose drives people and people drive business results.

Embark on your HR transformation journey

Has your HR organization created a roadmap to support the transformation agenda? Start a discussion with your team about the current and desired state of HR processes using the framework with this white paper.

Also, read SAP’s HR transformation story within the broader context of SAP’s own transformation.

Neha Makkar Patnaik

About Neha Makkar Patnaik

Neha Makkar Patnaik is a principal consultant at SAP Labs India. As part of the Digital Transformation Office, Neha is responsible for articulating the value proposition for digitizing the office of the CHRO in alignment with the overall strategic priorities of the organization. She also focuses on thought leadership and value-based selling programs for retail and consumer products industries.