As large organisations to budding start-ups struggle to retain talent in a tough economic environment, German software maker SAP SuccessFactors aims to assist companies in better understanding their workforce in real time using employee sentiment analysis and other HR tech tools that have gained momentum after the Covid pandemic.

During an interaction with Salman SH of The Financial Express, Aaron Green–chief marketing and solutions officer of the company–explains why enterprises are now focusing more on culture building using software signals for better human capital management.

Among the different stacks that you provide, what’s the most demanded HR tech solution that’s applicable worldwide, especially in India?

What we’ve seen…a really significant shift in the past several years is around the ability to listen, understand and then act on workforce sentiment using the capabilities of workforce listening. So, we use the SAP Qualtrics solution, with organisations around the world, including India, to help them understand the sentiment and the objective content–what’s happening inside the organisation, help them then understand what that means for them and then help them create plans of action.

What are your most relevant products for Indian industries?

If we look at India, it is such an incredibly diverse landscape of industries where there is everything from technology powerhouses to manufacturing powerhouses. In order to engage that workforce, to attract and retain them, you need to have a talent strategy. That strategy looks at the kind of skills and capabilities people need to have, where you want to upskill them or look at things like how to create differential compensation and benefits that each workforce requires. So (the Indian) manufacturing industry is actually a great example here. When you have people dealing with heavy equipment, HRs need to keep track of the kind of certifications they need. What kind of competencies do they need to have…and what kind of compliance do you have in place to make sure that you’re dealing with the health and safety of the workforce?

How has the Covid pandemic changed large organisations and how tech enterprises look at latent and workflow management using software tools?

What we have seen through the pandemic and certainly in current times is a need for organisations to understand who their people are. We are talking not just about bio-data information but really like who their people are, where they’re located and what their personal situations may be. And equally, it’s forced organisations to think about what kind of offerings they need to give to their employees, whether that is flex work or hybrid work. So, organisations really have leaned into investing in their people. It has become a business imperative for organisations to have these capabilities in place to not just navigate their way out of the pandemic but to through the next two or five years.

Clearly the Big Tech industry and large start-up unicorns have over-hired prior to the pandemic, which is why they are now forced to lay off employees en masse. How can HR tech solutions solve this issue?

Within the SAP analytics cloud (SAC), we have a workforce planning capability that allows an organisation to look at the in-house data as well as external market data, and really plan out where the workforce needs to be in next few years. They can especially use this data to instead shift some to freelancers. This measurement is different for every organisation in every industry but we provide that capability to do that kind of workforce planning and modelling.

IT companies and high-growth start-ups have high attrition and at the same time suffer from a shortage of employable engineering talent. Can SAP’s tools model and predict market attrition trends?

Certainly, there are predictive models out there. I think the different way of looking at that challenge might actually be to better understand the dynamics of the workforce and that’s really where that employee listening capability is. So not employee monitoring, but really surveying employees, not once a year, not even twice a year, but very quick pulse surveys allow an organisation to better predict and understand where they are today in terms of attrition risks. You can actually marry up that operational data and compare it with historical data to predict various levels of attrition in an industry.

The interview was originally published in The Financial Express on November 29, 2022.