The Era of Personalisation: Customising the Employee Experience at SAP India
Today’s workplace culture is in the midst of an unparalleled era of personalised experiences. Employees, similar to customers, desire treatment that caters to their individual needs and preferences. This change has propelled employers to shift from a people-centric approach towards a more person-centric one. Undoubtedly, the pandemic profoundly impacted reshaping expectations, with many people reevaluating their priorities.
Data from the 2023 Top Employers Institute Certification Programme shows a striking trend among the over 2 000 certified companies across 121 countries. Remarkably, 74% have updated their employee journeys to accommodate remote work dynamics—a 6% increase from the previous year. The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is the most advanced in this regard, with 66% of Certified Top Employers having successfully implemented formal remote work options.
As part of the 2023 Top Employers Inspire event, I had the pleasure of hosting a presentation about this topic by Rashmi Raghuraja, Senior HRBP Consultant/PMO to the Head of HR at SAP Labs India. SAP India stands out as a leader in creating tailored employee experiences. Rashmi shared how the company addresses its workforce’s personal needs to enhance the end-to-end employee experience.
The People Experience
SAP India’s People Experience Programme was created “so we have an inclusive environment where people can be who they are. They don’t have to pretend or leave parts of themselves at home,” Rashmi explained. The programme has five foundational pillars to support that mission:
- Pride: Fostering a sense of pride among employees, both in their association with the company and in their contributions to its success.
- Purpose: Employees are encouraged to make connections between their daily tasks and the overarching company mission.
- Innovation: Sustaining innovation through providing resources and platform tools employees can use to create and collaborate.
- Appreciation: Each individual’s contributions are recognised as valuable to the company’s success.
- Care: Genuine care and respect for employees is consistently demonstrated, bolstering a sense of belonging and support.
Pledge to Flex
Providing autonomy over individual work schedules and habits was a priority as the company assessed its employee journey. “We have a real commitment to offering a flexible and trust-based work schedule,” said Rashmi. Feedback indicates they have successfully done so. The 2023 SAP Future of Work Trend report revealed a whopping 77% of SAP employees feel empowered to determine when and where they perform their tasks.
They achieved such a high level of success by forming a group of employees to facilitate the transition, the Change Ambassadors Community. This group functioned as a guiding force, coaching managers and teams as they navigated the shift towards flexible work arrangements. Rashmi described the HR team’s thought process, “We realised early on that this is going to be a journey of not just a few weeks or months. It’s going to take years. We wanted to bring our employees along on the journey and have a bottom-up approach.” Pilot programmes and continuous feedback loops kept stakeholders engaged and enabled adjustments.
Establishing a foundation of transparency and understanding within the company’s workforce was the motivation behind the People Unplugged Programme. Rashmi elaborated on this mission, “We wanted to have authentic conversations with leaders and offer a platform to debate, ideate, and collect feedback.” The first initiative was a six-part conversation series that engaged employees with company leaders.
All employees were invited to participate in these conversations featuring sensitive topics like performance management. Strikingly, 4,000 employees across India participated. These sessions were an opportunity to engage in genuine discourse to shed light on why the organisation did certain things and potentially pave the way towards something new. Ultimately, this series underscored SAP India’s commitment to creating a workplace culture that values open dialogue, mutual respect, and collective growth.
In the wake of transitioning back to business as usual after the pandemic, the need to assist employees with the adjustment became evident. “One of the things we heard often was that people were feeling lost as they came back. They knew about different programmes, platforms, and tools but not how to find them,” Rashmi explained.
To address this concern, a series of brainstorming sessions were organised. These sessions included employees representing a variety of roles and career stages. The primary objective was to understand any gaps in support and identify what resources might be helpful.
Through this process, recurring themes were identified and served as focal points for taking action. As a result, two programmes were created:
- The Inspire Talk Series is a forum for insightful discussions,
- The Career Mentoring Programme supports individuals feeling indecisive about their career path.
To conclude the presentation, Rashmi emphasised that SAP India focuses on providing their employees with the best possible workplace. She quoted author Jacob Morgan’s book The Employee Experience Advantage to emphasise her point, “In a world where money is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, focusing on the employee experience is the most promising competitive advantage that organisations can create.”
Check out Rashmi’s full presentation to hear more about SAP India’s innovative programmes and the organisation’s plans for new initiatives in the near future.
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