Royal Mail: Transforming Through Learning

At this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference, I had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Walden, IT director for Central Functions at Royal Mail Group, to discuss what learning means for companies and the future of work. With a vision to be recognized as the number one delivery company in the UK and across Europe, Royal Mail Group is embarking on enormous shifts to stay ahead of evolving market needs – the kind of shifts that will require a strong technology backbone.

With Walden as a key leader of Royal Mail Group’s business transformation, he has championed the organization’s recent employee experience project, referred to as “The Fridge.” “The Fridge” is a consumer grade, digital personal development platform with the goal of assisting people to find the right tools, in the right format and at the right time, to perform their day-to-day roles. Powered by SAP Work Zone for HR, the solution has impacted company culture intrinsically with a bottom-up approach to learning and development.

Q: Royal Mail has been delivering mail in the UK for 500 years since its origins in 1516. It is one of the oldest organizations in the world, and even it is facing the need to transform. What is shifting in your industry and what are some of the actions you have had to take to progress?

A: Royal Mail Group is an organization that is going through an immense amount of change and transformation at the moment. This has only been sped up with what has been happening in the world over the last 12 months with COVID-19. We are shifting from being a letters business that delivers parcels to a parcels business that delivers letters. We need to change all aspects of our organization to align with that. There are operational changes that are happening but, at the heart of it, it’s the culture and people in our organization that need to change in order to support that. We have over 140,000 employees and there is a deep need to connect, upskill, and engage our people. It’s about developing the broader skills, behaviors, and competencies and making sure we are enabling our operational line managers by having the right support, tools, and skills  We have roughly 8,000 line managers who really help set the tone with how the business operates.

I understand the solution for this is something you are calling “The Fridge” internally. I would love to know where this name comes from and how you are leveraging “The Fridge” to transform your organization and help your people.

“The Fridge” is quite a provocative name. It is one that we have given to the platform that we are using to help support, educate, and skill up our people to provide them the tools they need to go through this people transformation. Those aspects are really about new ways of working but also with that, the culture changes. We are making sure that we are giving our people and line managers the right tools, the right skills, and the right environment for them to support the business going through this transformation.

That’s excellent to hear that Royal Mail Group is helping its workforce to autonomously upskill its people. “The Fridge” is powered by SAP Work Zone for HR and was deployed 100% remotely in just 10 weeks! Can you share a bit about how this technology is making you successful today?

We’re using SAP Work Zone for HR to help change the entire employee experience of our HR tools and our HR platform. It is a new way of delivering services and information to our people. The learning piece is really just the foundation of it. The premise to use SAP Work Zone for HR is really that hook to provide everyone in the organization easy access to what they need, how, when, and where they need it. We can bring people into one place for all of their HR requirements and for all of the applications and services they need. It will be that place where our operational managers can get all of their information about how they do their job. This is key to supporting our employees and helping them adapt to meet the challenges we as a company face today as well as ensuring they are prepared for the future.


Amy Wilson is SVP of Products & Design at SAP SuccessFactors.