SAP SuccessFactors President Jill Popelka kicked off the SuccessConnect virtual event this year with an inspiring keynote that laid out the future of work embodied in human experience management (HXM).

Speaking directly to human resources (HR) leaders, Popelka expressed heartfelt gratitude to customers that are persevering during these challenging times, while reinforcing SAP’s commitment to helping them deliver employee experiences that set up employees and companies for success.

“I am incredibly inspired every day by your resiliency, unwavering commitment to your people, and your determination to make impactful decisions that will fundamentally change the way we work in the future,” she said. “We are committed to listening intently to you so that we can better understand the evolving needs of your business and find new and meaningful ways to support you. Join us and dive into a future of work that is joyful, meaningful, and productive. Human connections, the power of technology, and your leadership will pave the way.”

Employee Experience Directly Impacts Business Success

Popelka teed up the day-long video broadcast, which is also available on demand, as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn, exchanging ideas with HR and business experts and reimagine the future of work. Spotlighting the latest research, she presented the inarguable impact of the employee experience on business results company-wide. Survey data gathered and analyzed in partnership with Qualtrics, Thrive Global, and Fortune revealed organizations that scored in the top 20 for employee experience grew revenue on average by 16 percent year-over-year.

“One year ago, we made a bold claim with the introduction of HXM as a new category,” Popelka said. “It signaled a shift from treating people as company assets to rightly placing them at the center of business. Our people determine whether we succeed or fail. The experiences we deliver, and how we address the moments that matter for every individual, impacts business growth and how quickly an organization adapts to change.”

Winning Combines People, Technology, and Purpose

According to Popelka, companies that win deliver experiences that bring out the best in employees. These organizations create an environment that feels less like work and more like purpose, where people have the tools they need to get the job done and learning is continuous, prioritized, and meaningful. Diversity and inclusion are a natural part of this workplace culture. She charged HXM leaders with a specific call-to-action.

“To make lasting change in how we work, we must have a renewed focus on making real human connections with our people, the technology to help us work efficiently toward a common purpose with fewer obstacles, and innovative, committed leadership,” Popelka said. “I know with certainty how instrumental you’ve been in leading your people and organizations through this time of change.”

Popelka showcased SAP SuccessFactors customer National Australia Bank as an example among the many companies leading the way in building bridges among humans, technology, and purpose to help people and business thrive. The bank quickly retrained employees when the pandemic hit, rolling out supportive programs to help them manage new experiences at work and home.

HXM Delivers Results in Era of Continuous Change

Emphasizing that HXM guides everything the company does – from reimagined user experiences to product innovations such as SAP WorkZone for HR and Business Beyond Bias, as well as embedded artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and blockchain – Popelka outlined technology’s role in creating meaningful, more efficient work environments that support business agility.

“We’ve made it our mission to make technology work for humans, not the other way around,” she said. “Reskilling and upskilling have become increasingly important as organizations tap into employee talents and quickly pivot to new markets, products, and services. Learning must be ongoing, dynamic, and individualized to help every employee achieve their development goals, and business become more nimble.”

Microsoft Unlocks Growth Mindset for Employees

Among the highlights of Popelka’s keynote were excerpts from a video conversation she had with Kathleen Hogan, chief people officer at Microsoft. Hogan discussed the strategic role of HR and how Microsoft supported its employees with a continuous learning culture grounded in unlocking a growth mindset as well as diversity and inclusion.

“As we’ve navigated social issues and COVID-19, the ability to focus on the employee experience [and] create a culture where all employees can bring their best selves is more important than ever,” Hogan said. “There’s a huge opportunity to use the CHRO platform to make a difference for employees in partnership with the leadership team because everybody has a responsibility to drive the people agenda. You absolutely need vision and determination as well as execution.”

Hogan and Popelka agreed that taking care of employees by understanding and acting on their personal experiences during these stressful times has brought empathy to the fore. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hogan said that Microsoft included caring for employees as part of its managerial policies.

HXM Connects Humans to Move Business Forward

One of the most compelling HXM examples came from SAP itself. Popelka shared how SAP used Qualtrics pulse surveys to better understand and act on what employees were experiencing in the wake of the global pandemic that initially hit just weeks after she joined SAP SuccessFactors. After a virtual leadership tour to hear employee concerns and answer their questions, a subsequent survey revealed a significant increase in employee engagement and leadership trust scores.

“By being more transparent, we brought employees closer,” she said. “Listening and monitoring employee engagement is a business imperative. We will continue to embed Qualtrics into all our solutions so that you have the same seamless opportunity to check on your people and understand and take action. We use technology to connect people across the globe and access the data and insights leaders need to make fast and intelligent decisions. This is human experience management.”

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