Supply chain disruptions that began with the pandemic continue driving shoppers directly to the doorstep of consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, transforming company cultures overnight and profoundly changing how those companies treat their employees. From fashion and food to household products and more, manufacturers have realized that the employee experience is foundational to providing consumers with the product experience that they expect.
“Having dealt with significant disruption that’s impacted every aspect of operations, CPG organizations are coming out of the last two years with a new ethos about the employee experience,” said Michael Esau, Global HR Value Advisory at SAP. “To consistently produce and deliver the freshest foods and highest quality goods that consumers want, leaders realize they have to create an environment where people really want to work and can make the most valuable contribution. Being a great place to work is something that management at leading companies takes extremely seriously, and they’re creating a connected, knowledgeable, motivated workforce that’s united across departments in meeting the customer promise.”
A Value Proposition That Keeps Workers Engaged
Regardless of where employees work at CPG companies – factory floor production, remote and in-person office work, and throughout distribution channels – digital technology is central to creating a personalized employee experience that will align people towards shared goals while addressing their unique career path. At the most basic level, automating systems of record to keep employee information updated is a must-have for organizations, especially contact data, position, and location. Over time, digital systems speed up processes like employee transfers, reducing wasted time and keeping employees engaged in what matters most, getting their job done. One example is Warburtons, the UK’s leading bakery brand that relies on SAP solutions.
“Supporting the development of our leaders who are adapting to new ways of working, and our efforts to transform how we execute our work daily, continues at pace,” said Sue Yell, HR director at Warburtons. “Leveraging technology where and when we can to streamline processes is essential to enable our people to focus on our customers and the service we provide. This will ensure we can continue to build a foundation of sustainability, which is crucial to our long-term growth.”
Personalized Employee Learning
In the wake of the post-pandemic talent shortage, leaders at CPG companies are rethinking employee learning as a powerful strategy to attract and retain people. But in this era of the personalized employee experience, reskilling and upskilling options depend on each worker’s unique situation. Some workers are looking for the resources to close skill gaps and move up the career ladder. Others may opt to stay where they are. Becoming an employer of choice requires companies to provide employees with choice.
“People want easier access to knowledge that will expand their skills so they can make a more valuable contribution to the company,” said Esau. “For example, integrating data across SAP and non-SAP systems, SAP SuccessFactors Work Zone brings together all of someone’s professional information in one place from their mobile device or desktop browser. People can see what’s expected for their current and aspirational roles and responsibilities, including health and safety. They can explore training sessions and connect with colleagues to learn faster from each other.”
Leaders Rally Employees with Empathy
As disruptive as these last few years have been for CPG companies, the cultural shift has been a revelation for managers and workers. Leaders are leading with greater empathy for employees. Many turned to survey instruments such as Qualtrics to better understand employee needs and respond effectively. The Intelligent Enterprise connects analytics data into the business, revealing employee engagement ratings, why people stay or leave, and how workers are feeling. With this information, leaders can make better decisions to improvement employee engagement and manage teams for business resilience. Minus historical precedents, organizations are redefining the culture, meaning how the business operates and people behave.
“As we continue to operate through these times of disruption, it’s crucial that we preserve our cultural DNA – delivering high quality products to our customers on a daily basis,” said Yell. “We achieve this by reinforcing our family values with our existing employees and recruiting future employees who we believe will demonstrate the same level of care in baking and distributing our products.”
As the direct connection between CPG companies and consumers grows, so will the need for agility. Integrating data across different systems, organizations can anticipate and act quickly before the next disruption occurs, rallying employees around business model changes with a shared vision and the skill-building to help the company address changing market demands. When employees select a company as their employer of choice, customers will always follow.
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This also appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.