Let’s start with a confession: I’m a big fan of SAP! And now also of Strategic Workforce Planning within SAP’s Future of Work team. As some might know I’m currently on a post-sabbatical fellowship, supporting and learning. My recent sabbatical gave me the chance to see the world from different perspectives including a longer Eastern Canada trip with my wife in 2022. Making a dream come true after 15 great and very active years in different Total Rewards/Market Intelligence roles at SAP.
But why do I like Strategic Workforce Planning so much!? Let me share a true story:
Currently working, post-covid routine, most of the time from home, unless in the office for meetings, workshops with colleagues. Recently I went to my doctor. A routine check after a longer time.
Few things immediately draw my attention when shortly waiting at the reception: The multilingual doctor and front desk receptionist acted as one team. Living diversity from team and patients’ sides. All good organized and no ‘traffic jam’, communication working very well.
My name was called. A younger staff member prepared me for a stress electrocardiogram on a bicycle, asking if I need a towel to keep warm until doctor appears – I was impressed about her empathy and caretaking despite the obvious busy work environment.
The doctor came in. I shared my gratitude. She was telling me that this former apprentice got a regular job offer from her recently including extra holiday days. Overall, 35-45 per year plus higher than usual salary, both reward elements above industry norm. Why? The doctor suffered from high turnover in past and had no bandwidth to deal with the loss of knowledge any longer, therefore the doctor wanted to motivate this young talent which obviously worked out. I was surprised that the war for talents has reached my own microcosms in the meantime as well.
The doctor afterwards checked my belly via ultrasound. I was joking, pointing at my grown post-covid belly: do I get twins? She was laughing and telling me that the previous day another patient was checked by her via ultrasound too. The doctor was afterwards able to tell the patient the surprising but very well perceived news that she was pregnant.
After this heartwarming story my medical check-up fortunately ended for me as for the most of you hopefully: all good, eat a bit healthier, but for the age all in good shape.
So far so good. You might ask now with good reason: what does all of these have in common with Strategic Workforce Planning? A lot! Let me illustrate my key takeaways with a comparison against the 7 key strategic workforce planning dimensions of SAP!
Workforce composition along key workforce dimensions
My key learnings from my recent ‘journey’ and check-up are:
- Skills: Reskilling and upskilling requires a ‘step out of the box‘ attitude, creating areas of uncertainty, but the reward is great for the brave. Like my fellowship, offered with new insights. Staying cozy ‘at home’ might work, but not in case of undetected risks. Company employees who are neither working on their skills nor leaving comfort zone might be left behind in the long run.
- Roles: Roles and career paths might vary (nurses might become doctors, apprentices eventually front desk receptionists) but there is always a need for various roles in an organization. Not all people can become doctors, at least not at the same time – a healthy mix is key, requiring a proactive talent pipeline management. Workforce Planning departments in larger organizations can help to develop talent gap ‘remedies’, e.g., strategic hiring guidelines for Recruiting to ‘cure’ role shortages or imbalances.
- Career-Level (Mix): Giving early talents the chance to stay and grow in rewarding environments cannot only solve doctor’s talent pipeline challenges. The chance to practice is key to reach next career path step. A junior level nurse might be better in dealing with specific patient groups, a more seasoned doctor has strengths in reading complex health data results due to the experience level – and we detect the same pattern in companies! Companies also need to be prepared for non-linear career-paths’. Shortage of talent requires this flexibility.
- Age Demographics: SAP gives employees the chance to step out of the box in order to grow, and this is not limited to age, even generation 50+ are targeted! Sabbaticals and fellowships keep those employees young! And in the long-term the company as well, cross departmental ‘fresh blood’ knowledge transfer included!
- Locations: It’s often important to speak the ‘language’ of the customer – therefore location and staff decisions need to be taken wisely. Teams with intercultural background are an asset to each company. A healthy place to give impact can be either home office, another country (during sabbatical) or other department/office. SAP supports with Pledge to Flex concepts Future of Work – powered by SAP Booklet to balance private and business live which I think is great!
- Employment Models: We see new work models arising supported by digitalization (at doctor: tele health, at SAP maybe AI/robots for job screening). Anyhow: there is still a need for on-site full or part time support by local employees. Doctor’s and companies likewise might route customers to second level experts after the first ‘health diagnoses’. For companies’ contingent workforce or remote Shared Service Center abroad can be mentioned here. In my perception all concepts should have one thing in common: customers’ needs are key! For example, board area needs in Sales and Development might be different as health symptoms often vary among man and woman during doctor’s sessions.
- Organizational Health: I know from own experience now that you should never take health for granted and assume to know the results upfront already. Past good health conditions – similar like historic success of a company or department – is also no proof to be in good shape at present or even more in the future. In analogy, the current economic turmoil and headcount adjustments shows this drastically for many companies. Companies tend to lose these days weight quickly like a price boxer before the fight – better is to prepare potential org changes of all kinds in the long run with upfront scenario modeling, if possible. A healthy organization lives from diversity, inclusion, and equality driven by values like empathy for others, a dimension supported by SAP as well in a very nice way, in my perception.
All in all, I am convinced: Staying physically and mentally ‘fit’ (for future) is important for individuals like me – but it is also key for companies like SAP to check the own organizational health status regularly. Strategic Workforce Planning plays here a crucial role like a medical advisor. The Strategic Workforce Planning ‘prescriptions’ supports the set-up of a desired mix of future healthy workforce dimensions, making SAP resilient for the future. ‘Blood measures’ to find out how well the cure is progressing are for example Key Performance Indicators (e.g., x% female workforce share achieved in a time period y, as needed). As ‘blood markers’ can be compared among patients, SAP’s workforce KPI data should be regularly checked against key market peer data in a process of benchmarking of ‘workforce health’.
You see: The story mirrors key learnings during my first fellowship weeks quite well! My blog post hopefully illustrates the importance of Strategic Workforce Planning to you, also!
In this sense: Stay (or get) healthy!
At this point a big “thanks” to the Strategic Workforce Planning team and Future of Work colleagues for the warm welcome and great onboarding support, you rock!
More #FoW insights to come soon, stay curious! In the meantime: For the strategy of SAP’s #FutureofWork, check out Future of Work – powered by SAP Booklet.