Why Experience Management Means Cultural Change — Not Just in HR

Think back to your first day at work: Chances are that it was a little bit overwhelming, and many would certainly have been grateful for an onboarding app that helped provide orientation at the beginning of the employee journey.

One new use case developed by SAP supports employees at specific points in their working lives and receives feedback from them, with the goal of improving their experience.

Employee experience was a top priority in human resources (HR) long before SAP acquired Qualtrics. However, with the company now part of the SAP family, new possibilities have opened up. One result has been the joint project between HR and the Best Run TopX Experience Management program designed to fuel growth through improving the experience for SAP customers, partners, end-users, and employees.

The project looks at how Experience Management solutions from SAP can improve company processes; in this case, those that serve employees.

What X+O Means in HR

So far, HR has developed three use cases: candidate experience, onboarding experience, and employee benefits optimizer. More are planned to follow in the course of the year.

The HR team at SAP in South Korea is already using the benefits optimizer to help rethink employee benefits by first finding out which benefits individual employees actually prefer.

These preferences — or experience data (X-data) — were captured, analyzed, and linked with operational data (O-data). As an example, operational data might include how far employees commute, their family situation, or their age group.

“By linking the two data sets, the Total Rewards team is able to tailor benefits to specific groups of employees,” says Christian Liebig, global head of People Insights for HR at SAP.

What is good for employees is good for HR: Offering the right benefits helps retain people, the ultimate goal.

Feedback: Every Piece Is Valuable

Having a continuous stream of X-data means that HR will know what employees really appreciate as well as what they are less keen on.

From Liebig’s point of view, Experience Management solutions enable a completely new way of thinking and approach and thus offers a great opportunity for HR: “It allows us to understand contexts and think systemically and systematically about them.”

Receiving feedback, of course, is not always pleasant, whether from employees or customers. As Oliver Staudenmayer, program manager for Best Run TopX Experience Management and head of Employee Experience Management at SAP, notes: “You have to be open-minded in order to truly appreciate every piece of feedback and gain something positive from it, even if it may be unfounded.”

At the same time, he says, organizations must be set up for agile decision-making: “If changes or decisions first have to pass a large committee, then you lose the very momentum that enables you to react to feedback and keep pace with users.”

Demonstrating Benefits to Customers

Using Experience Management solutions internally is good for SAP’s own business, but it is also the best way to show customers how it can benefit theirs too.

“We show customers how they can gain a new and highly valuable data dimension that aligns their company’s decision processes more closely with what their customers are really experiencing,” Staudenmayer explains. “If the user tells us at that very moment that something delights or disappoints, we know why they feel that way and can take action. This is not just an innovation in technology, but in culture too.”

Staudenmayer believes this can lead to more democratic decision-making.

“In the future, we’ll know what the majority of users want, not just those who make the most noise,” he says. “I believe there is a huge opportunity here.”

Staudenmayer also liaises closely with the Data Protection and Privacy Office as well as the IT Security department.  “We are guided by SAP’s rigorous policies,” he confirms.

Where employees are concerned, transparency is key, according to Liebig: “No one is forced to take part in any survey or disclose their data. However, if we are open and honest about what we’re doing, and people recognize clear benefits for themselves, then they will be happy to share.”