The Secret Sauce For Better Employee Engagement? Finance And IT Harmony

Richard McLean

Part 4 in the 4-part Finance and IT Collaboration series

SAP has received many awards for being an employer of choice on a global level, as well as specific awards in the Asia-Pacific region. What’s our secret? We run very robust programs designed specifically to drive employee recruiting, engagement, and retention. Besides helping our organization meet its HR needs, we believe it supports our purpose of making the world run better and improving people’s lives. By serving as a model of innovation, we hope to inspire others to do the same – and IT helps us do that.

Connecting employees to a higher purpose

Many of our employee engagement programs at SAP focus on social impact. We want our work to be a force of good for the community and for society. It infuses work with meaning and helps our employees feel a link to their own sense of purpose.

Purpose-led companies look at things differently. Instead of viewing business transactions as win/lose, purpose-led companies understand how everyone can benefit. We see employees as value contributors, customers as advocates, and suppliers as business partners, and we embrace the triple bottom line: economy, society, and environment.

Connecting with rising talent

Digital transformation is radically changing the nature of work as we know it. Companies poised for success in this new digital reality are putting people first. They realize that to be innovative and agile, you have to attract, develop, and retain the best talent. We have several programs within Singapore and across Asia Pacific where we invite students from universities in the region who spend several weeks with us working on innovation projects.

Last year, we ran a one-week business analytics challenge with students from different universities in Asia, Singapore, and Malaysia. We collected data in our SAP HANA platform and allowed the students to use our tools to come up with new insights. They were able to experience our technology in our centers to solve a problem that we had, giving us a new perspective on tools and data.

We also have 15 or 20 students join us across different businesses and organizations who work internships. Some students are working with our IT team to develop applications we’re using in finance. For example, in an earlier post, I described how we’re using machine learning to automate finance tasks in our shared services centers. Half of the people on this team were interns.

Collaboration is the key

Making these programs work requires collaboration across many units with SAP – finance, IT, and HR, for example. The students bring integrity to our use cases because they look at problems from a completely different mindset than we are used to from our organizational perspective. Their solutions, in general, are extremely creative. It’s inspirational for us, very inspirational for them, and it gives them some added leverage for when they enter the job market.

Preparing for the future of work

To be successful in the digital era, companies need to adopt new ways of working that generate ongoing innovation and agility. Having a high-tech environment where people can work efficiently and productively aligns to how employees live outside of work. And by connecting that work to a higher purpose, everyone wins.

Read why collaboration is key and why performance improves markedly when finance breaks out of its silos in this Oxford Economics Research.

Want to learn more about finance and IT collaboration? Read the whole series beginning with Better Together: How Finance and IT Are Enabling The Intelligent Enterprise.

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Richard McLean

About Richard McLean

Richard McLean, regional CFO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, oversees all key finance and administrative functions for field and regional headquarters, supporting more than 18,000 employees. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior finance roles with leading global companies across a range of industries, including financial services, investment banking, automotive, and IT. He joined SAP in 2008.