Accelerate Organizational Agility by Tapping Into Employees’ Whole Selves


It has been a year since human experience management (HXM) was first introduced, with a focus on valuing every person every day by honoring their needs and motivations, which in turn helps drive better business results.

The new category launched at a time when jobs were in surplus and attrition was at an all-time high. Yet in a matter of a few months the global economy shifted toward mission-critical action to maintain the status quo. In such circumstances, is HXM still relevant? Yes, and differently so — whether by making things easy and efficient so people can do their work regardless of circumstance, or checking in through pulse surveys to understand where people are struggling.

As part of our original vision for HXM, SAP continues to focus on reimagining the experiences across the SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite. We also recognize the need to further elevate our definition of “experience” in a time when organizational agility is valued above all else. Since inception, HXM has been about tapping into key “moments that matter.” But this is still a generic human resources (HR) construct.

Today, what we are really talking about is “moments that matter to me.” It is about each unique individual, how they are impacted by their environment, what makes them tick, and how they choose to contribute. Just as humans change and pivot throughout their lives, it is natural to approach our careers in the same way. What matters to me this year may not be what matters to me next year. How we delineate “what matters to me” comes from what we call the “whole self” model; that is, who I am today and who I am becoming tomorrow.

The whole self is the lens into how employees experience change and opportunity throughout their careers; it is entirely unique to them. Elements include work styles, mindsets, experiences, aspirations, passions, and more. These elements are dynamically changing just as we dynamically change.

In his best-selling book Range, David Epstein shares that “our work preferences and our life preferences do not stay the same because we do not stay the same.” Rather than long-term career planning, a more effective approach is giving people the freedom to think, “Here’s who I am at the moment, here are my motivations, here’s what I’ve found I like to do, here’s what I’d like to learn and here are the opportunities. Which of these is the best match right now?”

In an ideal scenario, employees can align their whole self with their work. They feel a sense of hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism. This sense of fulfillment is described as having high psychological capital and thus people become far more encouraged and motivated by their work – they can take on anything. When psychological capital is higher overall, it creates organizational durability in times of change.

As an example, when it comes to reskilling and upskilling, this is far more effective when enabled from a bottom-up perspective where employees autonomously seek out opportunities. In turn, they feel a far greater sense of connection to their organization due to the fact that their work aligns closely to who they are and who they wish to become. They can navigate unpredictable circumstances but are also more likely to autonomously engage; think creatively, experiment with new ideas, roles, or opportunities, and evolve from paper pushers to mountain movers for their organizations.

Learning and development is not only a critical part of employee experience, but it is an essential part of the human experience — particularly when considering the whole self model with the question of who I am becoming. Connecting individuals with recommendations for mentors, coaches, training, and assignments based on who they are right now enables them to try on new skills and careers to see if they fit, with flexibility to adjust and pivot.

By embracing this model, organizations can develop talent as well as access a rich set of data. Real-time feedback loops will allow employees to quickly determine what works for them and provides instant return on investment (ROI) for participation. Businesses will gain real-time insight into what inspires their people, to better understand from a holistic perspective as to what programs are effective and what skills are being developed across their workforce. They will know how to best pivot their talent at a moment’s notice, who to bring on, and where to redeploy — all in a seamless and mutually beneficial way. For every opportunity an organization can provide, it will have a transformative effect on both the individual and the business.

This truly connects the dots; where an employee’s whole self is fulfilled, psychological capital is high and it spills over across teams and broader areas of the organization at scale to transform culture and drive better business outcomes.

Amy Wilson is senior vice president of Products and Design for SAP SuccessFactors.