The HEINEKEN Company’s journey to an employee-centric and people insights-led organisation

Over the past three years, the HEINEKEN Company’s global HR infrastructure was digitally overhauled with the adoption of a single global solution to optimise employee HR experience, wherever they may be in the world. The new data-driven HR programme has been embraced by the workforce with a 95 percent user adoption rate. Herman Rolfers, Director of Global HR Technology & Solutions at the HEINEKEN Company, shares his experience in leading the company’s successful transformation.

Consisting of over 70 operating companies around the world and with more than 80,000 employees, the HEINEKEN Company has a mission – to become the best-connected brewer.  Prior to the digital overhaul, over 60 different HR systems were in use within the company, making a uniform and centralised approach difficult. With the implementation of the global solution, the leading brewing company is equipped to meet its ambitions to become a data-driven organization delivering the best employee experience by bringing a consumer-like experience to everyone at HEINEKEN.

“Since the overhaul, HR experiences have become more streamlined for both managers and employees with the automation of HR procedures that are now available at people’s fingertips at anytime, anywhere and on any device. In parallel, HR teams are freed up to focus on people rather than procedures. They also have access to a treasure trove of data which allows them to make informed decisions in key areas such as recruitment, talent management and succession planning,” shares Rolfers.

The starting point of the digital transformation? To become fully employee-centric and people insights-led. “People are at the centre of everything that HEINEKEN does, so we asked questions to employees to understand their needs during moments that matter,” Rolfers explains. “What do employees experience from the moment they’re hired? How can we better support our people during crucial times in their professional and personal lives? How do we ensure inclusiveness and diversity? How can we better anticipate their needs? We can now find the answers to all these questions through data capture and analysis and decide what actions we need to take.”

Both a global and local HR solution
SAP SuccessFactors was chosen as the core technical HR solution with Accenture, brought on board to co-create a digital employee experience. “We selected SAP SuccessFactors because it is a global tool that is very complete in terms of functionality. We wanted a solution that delivers seamless user experience across the world,” says Rolfers. “It’s also easy to customise to meet local markets’ needs, a crucial factor for a global operation like ours, while enabling a simplified and harmonized way of working globally.”

With SAP SuccessFactors as the technological core, every operating company is connected with one another to create an ecosystem of solutions. At the same time, local market needs can be met through add-ons that respond to their specific needs. In Europe for example, an add-on solution allows new employees to go on virtual walks around their new office and even get to know colleagues digitally before their first day as part of digital onboarding enabled by SAP SuccessFactors.

Driving a cultural change

To ensure deployment readiness, 6 operating companies were selected for implementation before the new solution was fully deployed. “This phase was a key ingredient to our success by allowing us to test out the new system and build stakeholder confidence in its ability to deliver and create momentum,” shares Rolfers. Once the deployment stage was officially launched, the implementation was done in phases starting first with the Asia-Pacific region, followed by the Americas, Africa, and lastly, Europe.

Using the stakeholder insights gathered, the project team responsible for the technical implementation organised Design Thinking sessions where various employee personas were defined. In parallel, innovation initiatives such as the HR Brewhouse, where tech players from all over the world were invited to pitch solutions to pre-identified HR challenges, allowed the team to bridge internal stakeholder insight with external technical expertise to create a well-rounded solution.

The new way of working has been embraced by the workforce with a user adoption rate of 95 percent globally, achieved within six weeks after the programme went live. “Bringing one HR system and one way of working to over 70 operating companies across the globe in such a short period of time is no easy feat,” says Rolfers. “We are very proud of this achievement, and the number shows that we indeed were able to drive a cultural change within HEINEKEN.”

Only the beginning of HEINEKEN’s HR Journey

The HEINEKEN Company has now established a future-proof foundation for its global HR processes. “We will continue to fine-tune the new HR landscape and roll out new innovations to constantly evolve to meet the demands of future generations. Nothing is ever finished – just upgraded.”