Over the past five years, few terms have dominated the public consciousness as much as ‘cancel culture’. The act of cancelling most commonly refers to the withdrawal of support for specific companies or public figures. 

When celebrities are cancelled, it’s generally because their comments or behaviour have been deemed offensive or inappropriate; when brands get cancelled, it’s more likely from allegations of workforce mistreatment, or other controversial operating practices.

But it’s no longer just those in the public eye experiencing cancel culture. As social and professional lives continue to become more closely linked through social media, cancelling is becoming more common among teams in every industry. And it’s introducing new risks for employers.

Read on as we explore the impact of cancel culture on the modern workplace, analyse a real-life case, and offer advice on how you can mitigate the risks.

The risks of cancel culture for employers 

As most employees don’t have a public platform with a significant following, cancel culture takes a different form in the workplace, carrying its own risks and impacts.  

When someone gets cancelled in the workplace, it’s generally because they’ve expressed an opinion their colleagues find controversial or offensive, perhaps regarding race, diversity, or political events. As Mental Health Counsellor Stephanie Sarkis explains in her Forbes article, many people consider a cancelled person in the workplace as someone “who has displayed such an egregious violation of decent behaviour that the only way to get the message across is to ostracise him or her”.

When employees cancel a colleague, they may expect their employer to respond with equal depth of feeling, and subsequently discipline or even dismiss the individual. It’s a process that can lead to the accused employees feeling excluded from their teams, and it can quickly damage working relationships.

Pressure for dismissal can come from the public, too. It’s not uncommon for social media users to seek out the employer of someone posting offensive content and demand their dismissal. What’s more, current UK law dictates that misconduct on social media is taken as seriously as verbal misconduct in the workplace.

Employee cancelling can have a huge effect on workplace culture, and if it’s not handled strategically, it can easily lead to litigation cases – whether they’re from the cancelled employee, or those doing the cancelling. 

What happens when you handle cancellations poorly?

It’s easy to see why employers often make the knee-jerk reaction to dismiss an employee after they’ve been cancelled; if the behaviour goes ignored, it can create unrest among other employees, and even public shaming of the company.

But notable cases over the past few years have proven that responding immediately is rarely the best action, and it can even do damage in the long run.

One recent case, involving a civil servant who was fired by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offers a prime example. When Ayub Patel was dismissed after a colleague reported that he was posting “racist and political” tweets from a personal social media account, the customer service leader handling the case failed to complete a thorough investigation.

Patel claimed that during previous social media training, he was advised that tweets would not breach the company’s behavioural policies if there was no association with the DWP on his account. The customer service leader failed to investigate Patel’s claim and didn’t thoroughly analyse Patel’s tweets before the disciplinary hearing.

Ultimately, the failure to follow the correct procedure led to an unfair dismissal result from Patel’s tribunal – despite Patel’s comments being considered as “tasteless, offensive, racist, and political.”

What can employers learn from the DWP case?

Patel’s case proves that no matter how serious the offense, it’s critical employers take the necessary investigatory measures before acting upon claims of cancellation from other employees.

Paul Holcroft, Associate Director at the Employment Law, HR, and Health and Safety consultancy group Croner, offers some important takeaways from the case: “Allegations must be made clear to employees so they are able to fully defend them, and a failure to point to specific tweets by the dismissing officer was pivotal to the unfair dismissal finding here”. 

Paul also points out that in cases like Patel’s, “factors such as a clean disciplinary record and admission of guilt will be taken into consideration by a tribunal, and therefore must also influence the employer’s ultimate decision on dismissal”.

Our advice for employers tackling cancel culture

To make sure cancel culture doesn’t damage your workplace – and brand – you need a clear, rational response strategy for allegations of inappropriate or offensive conduct.

Take the time to revise your existing workplace bullying and inclusion policies, and consider whether they need amending to cover any potential cases of cancellation – this may mean clearly defining how your organisation distinguishes between personal beliefs and harmful opinions. 

Following these revisions, ensure every team in your organisation is aware of your most recent policies, and offer a chance for employee feedback. Completing this step will make it difficult for offending employees to claim they didn’t understand the rules. 

Finally, if you haven’t already, consider appointing employee representatives across your company. Make looking out for manifestations of cancel culture part of their role, and seek to identify and solve disputes before they spiral out of control.

Today, organisations across every industry are facing the post-pandemic return to work challenge of transitioning from an emergency state into a more normal way of working. But during this transition period, little legislation has been passed to guide employers and HR leaders on their new working strategies.

The lack of legislation has put many employers in limbo, left to create their own policies around critical topics like vaccinations, isolation leave, lateral flow testing, and the return to the workplace. There’s no doubt we’ll see case laws emerge over the next few months, but in the meantime, it’s critical organisations revise their existing policies to cover new needs, so employees know exactly what to expect over the next year. 

If the transition is handled poorly, with weak direction and communication, employers will find themselves facing employee tribunals. We’ve already seen notable COVID-19-related tribunals, including employees fired for refusing to wear face masks arguing for unfair dismissal.

But with a well-structured return to normal that includes clearly defined policies and buy-in across your organisation, it’ll be easier to avoid workforce confusion and disputes. 

Here are some key steps every organisation should take to ensure your smooth post-pandemic transition.

#1 Define what you’re trying to achieve

As a first step, it’s important you identify what you want working to look like in the coming years. Do you want everyone to return to the office? Would it make more sense to commit to hybrid working? Are you looking to change core aspects of your business model?

Currently, there’s no legislation that gives employees the right to work at home; it’s down to employer discretion. However, there may still be good reasons to consider a flexible working model, not least employee retention – EY Global’s 2021 Work Reimagined Survey revealed that 54% of employees would consider leaving their job post-pandemic if they’re not afforded some form of flexible working. 

Also, just as before the pandemic working, employees do have the right to submit statutory flexible working requests that you’re legally required to consider as an employer. Employers are only able to reject requests based on specific statutory grounds, such as the burden of additional costs, detrimental impact on quality, detrimental effect on the ability to serve the customer, and more. 

#2 Set the action points you need to reach your goal

After establishing your overall ambition for your new working model, you can start to set the action points that’ll help you reach it. If you’re moving towards a full in-office or on-site workforce, you’ll need to ask those remotely hired during the pandemic to relocate, and you’ll need to create policies around new considerations, including self-isolation and lateral flow testing.

There’s no legislation in place to tell employers how to manage employees that need to self-isolate. The UK Government is currently offering a £500 payment to anyone on a low income that’s asked to self-isolate – but many employees won’t meet this quota, and there’s no telling how long the contribution will be available for. 

Importantly, as Ashtons Legal explains, it’s an offence for employers to ask employees to work anywhere other than where they’re self-isolating. Instead, you’ll need a policy that sets clear guidelines on your expectations from employees during their self-isolation period.

Similarly, there are no legal guidelines around lateral flow testing. While you don’t have a statutory obligation to make workplace testing mandatory, you might still want to encourage it throughout your workplace – especially for high-contact roles, such as warehouse assistants. 

If you take this approach, you’ll need to talk to your employees or a trade union representative around how testing will be carried out, how their data will be stored, and what support you’ll provide if an employee tests positive. 

#3 Communicate with your employees – and offer a chance for feedback

Like any new mandate in the workplace, prompt and clear communication will be key to the success of your new working model. It’s critical you’re transparent about what you expect of your employees over the coming months, while offering them a chance to voice their opinions. 

Senior employment solicitor Caroline Oliver reiterates the importance of consultation with staff, explaining clinically vulnerable employees will have “genuine concerns about returning to work or the commute on public transport”. She also suggests that “employers may expose themselves to discrimination claims under the Equality Act if they do not tread carefully”.

However, by giving your employees the chance to share their grievances before any policies are made permanent, you’ll reduce the likelihood that you’ll face any litigation cases in the future. Also, if you have the resources, it’s a good idea to dedicate members of management to gather and manage concerns on an ongoing basis – so you can action them before they escalate.

#4 Finalise your plan and share it with your colleagues

As a final step, you’ll need to put your new policies and guidance in writing and share them across the teams in your organisation. In some cases, such as changing employees’ permanent working locations, this step might even involve amending employee contracts.

We’d also recommend reminding employees of new practices and policies, whether it’s through signage across your workplace, team meetings, or company-wide emails. A gentle reminder will ensure all employees are well-informed, and nobody will be able to claim new policies weren’t properly communicated.

At too many organisations, employees’ learning and development (L&D) needs get permanently put on the back burner – or consigned to an annual, team-based training day, that’s forgotten the moment staff return to their posts. But research shows there’s every reason for employers to take a smarter, more robust approach.

You only need to look at employee attitudes to get a sense of the value of L&D: LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning report revealed 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. Similarly, the absence of structured L&D can have damaging effects – a survey by go2HR showed that 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions in the first year.

While the benefits of investing in your workforce are hard to ignore, putting an effective strategy in place that generates positive results can be challenging. If you’re looking for practical advice, SAP Litmos has published an excellent guide for building your strategy and developing a culture of learning across your teams. 

It’s available to read now – but before you jump in, read on, and we’ll unpack the three key pillars of modern learning discussed in the guide.

#1 Learning and development needs to be continuous

One of the most important considerations of L&D is that it needs to be ongoing, not a process you complete at the start of your role or just on dedicated team development days. Employees need to be able to challenge themselves to learn new skills and knowledge throughout their careers.

The benefits of continuous learning are twofold: employees feel like their employers are invested in their development, and it’s more cost-effective for organisations to train and upskill their existing employees than rehire. It can have a significant impact on employee morale, too – a LinkedIn Pulse survey revealed that having opportunities for development is the second most important factor in workplace happiness, after the work itself.

Successful, continuous learning needs to involve personalised and actionable development plans mapped to company objectives and individual career paths.

These action plans can include multiple forms of learning, from formal options such as university courses and online workshops to less formal options like research-based and on-the-job training. Critically, whatever employees’ development plans include, managers need to be involved and onboard – otherwise, employees might be hesitant to give up their working time.

#2 Learning and development needs to be content-rich

Content-rich learning means delivering intuitive, engaging content as part of your L&D strategy that makes it simpler for employees to learn. And with such a wide variety of digital courses available, it’s easy to offer employees valuable L&D plans without creating your own materials. 

For common topics like customer service, leadership, and compliance, it’s often more cost-effective to purchase professionally developed, video-based content for your teams – giving managers more time for high-level strategic planning. 

It’s an L&D trend that’s been especially useful as more industries have embraced remote working. Since the pandemic, 73% of L&D professionals expect to spend less on instructor-led training, while 79% expect to spend more on online learning.

According to the LinkedIn 2021 Workplace Learning Report

Ideally, you’ll want to find a unified learning management platform that offers pre-packaged courses and resources in a single environment – one that makes it easy for managers to curate personalised learning plans and simplifies the learning experience for employees.

#3 Learning and development needs to be immediate

With more employees taking control of their learning and development, it’s important employers offer immediate access to the resources they need, whenever they need them. 

“Employees use social media in their spare time to satisfy their curiosity right when they need it. It should be exactly the same with work. We must create corporate learning experiences that match consumer-grade experiences.”

Banco Santander’s Global Head of Knowledge, Elizabeth Galli

And creating these fast, consumer-grade experiences is easier with the right technology behind you. Global consultant McKinsey suggests that technology platforms – like next-generation learning-management systems, embedded performance-support systems, and learning assessment systems – are the most significant enablers of “just-in-time” learning. They’ll help you deliver L&D content in convenient formats that are accessible from wherever your employees are working.  

McKinsey also suggests that for such technologies to have the greatest impact, they should be fitted into your overall system architecture, supporting the entire talent cycle from recruitment and onboarding to career management and succession planning.

Embrace modern learning across your organisation – read the guide

Understanding these key pillars will set you in good stead as you launch your new L&D strategy. But there’s still a lot more to consider.

The SAP Litmos guide breaks the path to modern learning into three straightforward steps that’ll help you identify what L&D should look like in your organisation, and the actions you’ll need to take to put your plan into action. 

Download your copy of 3 steps to modern eLearning here.

For the last 16 years, Jigsaw Cloud has been helping Professional Services companies across the UK and Ireland to help make their employees happier and more productive and to ensure they are appropriately skilled. We understand that your people are critical to the success of your business, so creating excellent employee experiences from hire-to-retire is essential.

That’s why we’ve collated the 3 most crucial HR priorities now facing professional services firms…

Source: SAP

Source: Forrester

Source: Forrester

We developed a hire-to-retire HR Cloud talent management system, Smart Start for Professional Services, to improve your employee experience and make it easier and faster for you to achieve these top 3 HR priorities.

Download the infographic to find out how you can achieve greater ROI from your HR tech, save thousands of hours in HR admin time and implement the world’s leading HR software within just 10 weeks.

There’s no doubt most sectors will feel the effects of the pandemic for years to come, and employers will need to make some strategic changes if they’re to adapt and thrive. 

But right now, HR leaders face a more immediate challenge – helping those who’ve been furloughed or working from home to adjust to life back amongst their colleagues. 

Here are our top four recommendations for HR leaders seeking to smooth the return to the workplace and drive the best possible outcomes for their organisation and its staff. 

#1: Focus on their first week back 

Although many employees may have already returned to the office, Government advice to ‘work from home if you can’ didn’t lift until the 17th May, which means a lot of people will only just be restarting their daily commute. And with the furlough scheme potentially in place until September, some organisations will be putting up the ‘Welcome Back!’ banners for months to come. 

The first week back will be a big moment for many employees, so it’s critical you consider the pressures they might be facing. For example, parents and carers might be leaving their children for the first time in a year, and some employees may have anxieties about workplace safety. 

Arrange for their line manager to chat to them informally, perhaps over coffee, to find out what they’ve been struggling with during the pandemic, and let them know the changes your organisation has made. This is also a good chance to identify how they’d like to work in the future – whether they want to be in the office permanently or just a couple of days a week. 

#2: Empower your line managers to support employees

The ongoing return to the workplace isn’t just a challenge for HR – it’s a challenge for line managers too. They need to play a crucial role in helping employees adjust and keeping teams connected across locations.  

As an HR leader, it’s your responsibility to empower line managers with the tools they need to guide their team. This could be as simple as providing topics and questions for those informal, coffee-fuelled chats – as well as for ongoing one-to-ones – or ensuring any new policies are communicated and additional training is made available before their teams return. 

Mental health charity Mind backs up the importance of line managers, with some helpful advice in its 2021 Return to the Workplace report: “It is important to make the return easy and barrier-free; recognising different personality types may need additional support and the role of leaders in setting expectations, providing reassurance, confidence and setting company-wide goals and intentions.” 

#3: Set realistic expectations for board members

Just like the shift to home working at the start of the pandemic, there’s a good chance the transition back to shared workplaces will impact company performance – and you need to set realistic expectations for board members. 

You might see efficiency drop as employees readjust to their old environment, and ease back into the social context of the office, especially if you’ve made new hires during the pandemic that haven’t yet met their colleagues in person. 

PWC’s 2021 Reboot: Getting back to the workplace guide recommends using your company data to model your return-to-workplace plan for specific worksites and roles in your business. It’ll help you make data-driven recommendations to board members on the safety measures your business needs to put in place, and it’ll help you show them the impact of the return to the workplace and set realistic expectations. 

#4: Clear communication will be key to success 

In all the recommendations we’ve made, clear communication between employees, managers, and HR leaders will be critical to success. 

What will really effective communication look like? Clearly defined policies with minimal backtracking, opportunities for employees to raise any concerns, and complete transparency between management and staff on company changes and expectations. 

It’s important to recognise your team might not get everything right first time, but if you make employees part of the process, they’ll be much more invested, and more understanding when you need to revisit and adapt your strategy. 

Need help navigating the impact of COVID-19?

We’ve only touched on a few of the issues HR leaders must navigate when welcoming employees back to the workplace – but we’re on hand to support you through whatever challenges you might face.  

At Jigsaw, we have consultants with decades of HR experience across a diverse range of sectors. Just get in touch to see how we can help.  

Now that businesses are starting to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, many are placing a new focus on their resilience to future disruption and uncertainty.  

Our recent survey with HR Grapevine asked more than 200 HR professionals from a diverse range of sectors about resilience in the workplace. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority (88%) believe resilience is very important in their organisation. What’s more, many HR leaders already have ideas around how they’re going to improve resilience, from improving communication to adapting working arrangements. 

But it’s not always a straightforward task. There are often multiple barriers in the way to strong organisational resilience – so we’ve gathered some key tips on where you can start.   

#1: Define who should be driving resilience in your organisation 

Like any major organisational change, building resilience across your company relies on strong leadership – so it’s critical everyone in the business knows who’s leading the initiative. 

Our research revealed 60% of HR professionals view driving resilience as an HR responsibility, and the majority also think it lies with senior management (69%) and (63%). While fewer HR professionals thought the initiative should be shared with other teams, 50% still thought of it as a line management responsibility, and 41% as an employee responsibility.  

The results suggest a strong case for shared ownership between HR and other stakeholders – which is why it was promising to see that 69% of professionals feel executive leadership understands the importance of resilience, and 83% believe the same for HR.  

The shared responsibility will certainly help you make a strong push towards resilience, but don’t forget to consult with your entire organisation – from managers to employees – along the way, to see what areas can be improved, and how. 

#2: Identify the barriers to organisational transformation 

For any business trying to boost its resilience, some form of organisational transformation will be involved – whether it’s an operational change, a shift in business objectives, or a new organisational design. That’s why it was reassuring to see that 69% of those surveyed said their organisation is planning to transform in at least one of these areas. 

But transformations always involve challenges – so you’ll need to identify the barriers that stand in your way and how you can overcome them. In our survey, HR professionals suggested the top three barriers across their organisations are culture (55%), leadership mindset (52%), and workforce mindset (48%).  

Of course, these barriers will be different depending on your sector and the size of your workforce. But the results do suggest a compelling case for improving communication and engagement across teams to ensure complete buy-in for your objectives.  

#3: Spot the technology gaps across your workforce 

When the pandemic forced employees to work from home, many businesses had to make quick changes to their technology portfolio – like securing VPNs for safe remote working, buying new equipment for team members, and investing in new communication platforms. That’s why it’s not surprising to see 43% of HR professionals claim the technology they already have in place would enable their organisation to be resilient in the face of uncertainty.  

But there’s still a surprising 49% that claim their technology is only ‘somewhat’ strong enough to be resilient, and 8% say they don’t have the necessary technology. What’s more, only 16% of respondents say they’re using new or improved technology to improve resilience in their organisation.  

To become truly resilient to future disruption, it’ll be critical teams have the necessary tools to adapt with short notice like they did at the start of the pandemic. If you’re unsure of where your technology gaps lie, it’s a good idea to talk to your line managers and employees to find out what tools they need now, and what technical challenges they faced during the pandemic.   

Building people and organisational resilience – read our report 

We’ve only just scratched the surface of what will be required to build a resilient workplace – and how HR professionals are adapting today. 

Our new report takes a more in-depth look at the survey results, revealing some key insights from HR professionals across sectors like technology, engineering, financial services, and many more. You’ll also find some expert advice on how you can start improving your organisational resilience, from companies like Fujitsu Global, Clarion Housing Group, and Ella’s Kitchen. 

The pandemic asked every workforce to react quickly. For many organisations, it meant furloughing employees and adapting to home working – for some, it meant halting operations completely.

Whatever short-term changes you were forced to make, there’s a good chance some will translate to long-term shifts now that people are returning to the office.

We can’t be certain about what your workforce will look like from here on – it’ll naturally differ depending on your sector, demographic of employees, and line of work. But there are at least three post-pandemic trends few HR leaders will be able to ignore.

1. Flexible working: You’ll need to adapt to new employee demands

As lockdowns extended throughout 2020, employees started to see the benefits of home working. In July, a Lenovo survey of the global workforce found nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents felt they were more productive working from home than when they were in the office.

Forced exposure to different working styles has left many employees looking for greater flexibility in their roles or their hours as they begin their return to the workplace. And employers that can’t meet these desires might find their top talent leaving for more flexible companies.

Big-name brands like PwC are already showing the way for flexible working, offering employees the chance to work from home a few days a week and start as early or late as they like. There’s no doubt that employees will benefit from the shift towards greater freedom, but it’ll create new challenges for HR leaders.

You’ll need to ensure you have a reliable, cloud-based system for employees to track their working hours and locations, so every manager knows where their team members are and when they’re contactable. And if you haven’t already, it’ll be worth investing in an easy-to-use communication platform to keep your teams connected – whether it’s just used for quick messaging, like Slack, or it’s an entire collaboration platform like Office 365.

2. Workplace safety: Your employees will expect changes to their workplace

While many employees will spend more time at home in their working week, some will still want or need to be back in their place of work, and you’ll need to make some adjustments to ensure it’s a safe environment.

Some employees have already expressed anxieties about returning to the workplace; CIPD’s Good Work Index reportrevealed that 21% of employees currently going into their normal place of work aren’t satisfied with their employer’s health and safety measures. If your business doesn’t meet the expectations of their employees – and the safety measures recommended by the Health and Safety Executive – your company may face litigation from concerned workers.

Fortunately, many of these measures will be easy for most organisations to put in place, like maintaining social distancing between employees, regularly cleaning workspaces, and ensuring proper ventilation in all indoor spaces.

Some measures will be more challenging to navigate, like offering sick pay for COVID-19 isolation, enforcing vaccine passports, and encouraging lateral flow testing for your workforce. As ACAS reports, there’s currently no legal requirement for employers to test staff for COVID-19 or enforce vaccines, but it might make some employees feel more comfortable as they readjust to life in a shared workplace.

Whatever decisions you make, it’ll be critical that you establish clear company policies for your organisation and communicate them effectively with every employee, no matter whether they’re working remote or returning to their daily commute. You should also be prepared to change these policies as case laws are introduced.

3. Performance management: You may need a new way to track career progression

If you start offering employees flexible working opportunities, spreading your workforce across disparate locations, your business will face new challenges around tracking performance and career progression. And if you fail to tackle them, both employees and line managers are likely to suffer.

A recent LinkedIn survey found that 86% of workers felt the need to prove to bosses they are working hard and deserve to keep their jobs. What’s more, Owl labs remote working survey revealed that 65% of employee managers are concerned about the career implications of employees working remotely.

The specific performance management and career progression challenges you face will depend on the sector you operate in, your company’s current progression structure, and your company culture. For example, if your line managers rely on spotting talent ‘on the shop floor’, you’ll need to find alternative ways for employees to prove their skills.

With a cloud-based performance management platform, you can offer employees the chance to submit evidence of their performance and track it against specific career progression goals. It’ll also help your line managers track team performance against company objectives to ensure everyone is on the right track.

Need help navigating the impact of COVID-19?

As an HR leader, you have a big responsibility to help your business adapt to the long-term impacts of the pandemic – but you don’t need to face the challenge alone.

At Jigsaw, we have consultants with decades of HR experience across a diverse range of sectors. Just get in touch to see how we can help.

A new way of working – a new way of managing SAP SuccessFactors implementations 

We all know what happened in 2020 and the changes business had to make because of it: To the way in which they worked, how they supported employees and how they managed projects.  

As we start a new year – with many of the same challenges still in place – we wanted to take a look at some of the ways that we, as a HR technology business, have adapted the way we manage SAP SuccessFactors implementations. The lessons we’re about to share will be useful for anyone out there struggling to decide if now is the right time to embark on a big (or small) IT project and how they can go about it. 

Let’s take a look … 

The way its always been 

First of all, who are we and how do we implement projects? We’re an SAP SuccessFactors implementation partner – that’s what we do; implement software, day-in day-out. And we’ve been doing that for more than 15 years. As with many other businesses, we’d typically work on a client site for all key stages of a project: kick-off, scoping, and training workshops. All managed face to face, and typically done over full days. 

So, what’s changed with our SAP SuccessFactors implementation methodology? Well, quite a lot.  

Let’s take a look at how we’ve adapted 3 key stages of a typical project … 

1. We reduced the time spent in kick-off & configuration workshops 

As a business, we’re very familiar with remote working, but this has been a new approach for many of our customers, who are now working from home for the first time and adapting their working practices.  

We gave a lot of thought to how customer attention spans would change online Vs face to face. How would decisions be affected? What impact would it have on motivation – and their desire to keep momentum going? 

We soon realised that full day workshops (which would traditionally be anywhere from two to six days in duration) just wouldn’t work, so we developed a new online series broken up into two-hour chunks and taking place over a couple of weeks. Participants were focused, found it easier to reflect on the previous session and came to the next session fresh and motivated. 

The other thing we did was adjust our working hours to accommodate different time zones. Not only did this this ensure more attendees could join kick-off meetings and training workshops from more locations, but because delegates didn’t have to travel (many of which would fly from across Europe or even the US) the customer was saving huge sums of money. A win-win all round.

2. We introduced a new step: system familiarisation

During a traditional implementation, we would typically move from scoping and configuration, straight into user acceptance testing (UAT). This round of testing was often hampered because the customer would have to learn the system as well as begin testing their HR processes at the same time. This approach was already under review but COVID accelerated us changing our methodology.

Therefore, we introduced a new step prior to the implementation phase – familiarisation. This meant providing users with access to the pre-configured system, so they had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new software before attending configuration workshops and making decisions on how the new solution should be set up to accommodate their processes. 

The new step included ‘surgery’ sessions, allowing customers to ask questions about their system’s basic configuration, so they could get a better understanding of the fundamentals of the software they were going to be using and therefore be better prepared for the next stage of the implementation journey. 

3. We developed blended learning programme 

Most of our SAP SuccessFactors training is done in one full-day session but given the challenges this would pose if we simply swapped it to online learning (no-one can stay focused online for 6 – 8 hours!), we introduced a blended approach: training was delivered in more agile, bite-size sessions of 2-3 hours.  

Our new SAP SuccessFactors online training programme was divided into four sessions: system theory and use cases, homework (where customers would access and test the new software environment), and Q&A (where we would be available to answer all their questions on the solution).  

In summary 

We hope this has provided a valuable insight into how we’ve adapted our ways of working during lockdown and useful tips for your own system implementations.  

We really have seen how just a few small and simple changes can make a big difference to project engagement and adoption, as well as time and cost savings.

For us, we’ll continue to adopt this approach post-lockdown, as it really is the way forward and a win-win for everyone involved.  

Four key points we want to leave with you:  

If you need help with a new HR platform – or if you have an existing one and the implementation isn’t going well – get in touch to see how we can help. 

Whenever we assess risk in business, there’s a category that’s hard to build a strategy for: unknown unknowns. Well, 2020 brought one to the fore and, while we might not have been able to plan for the disruption caused by coronavirus, we have certainly learnt how to react.

The job of business leaders is to equip their organisations for a less bumpy ride in the future. While we can’t know what scenarios we will face, we can ensure that we have a clear view of our business, our people and that we are in a position to utilise data to help us with decision making.

HR leaders will find themselves at the heart of post-pandemic transformations, due to the sheer amount of data they handle and also because any future plans should place people front and centre, ensuring a positive employee experience can be achieved, whatever the landscape.

So, let’s start there. How can you optimise your HR function for the new normal?

Create The Right Connectivity

The massive surge in home working driven by the pandemic is one scenario that is getting airtime around board tables globally. Keeping in touch with people – in a positive way – and recognising their issues, as well as keeping business messaging alive, is a challenge that needs tackling to ensure we can address mental health and poor employee experience properly.

There are a few critical success factors to achieving the right solution:

Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), contributed to a recent report from Jigsaw Cloud and People Management Insight, stating “employers need to ensure their systems and processes are sufficiently robust enough to support the mental health of their staff permanently”.

By using technology as a solution to the problems of remote working, organisations can be more in touch with all aspects of employee health and wellbeing, from feelings of isolation to monitoring individual and team performance.

Embrace AI And Automate

People are afraid of AI because they worry it might take away their job, but Dave Coplin, founder of The Envisioners and another contributor to the report from Jigsaw Cloud and People Management Insight explains that it’s neither artificial nor intelligent, but is actually automation.

HR teams will gain more than most when it comes to automation with admin typically consuming 60% of their role. Rather than removing the need for people, technology deals with the grunt-work and frees up the team to add real value.

Because of its increased popularity, AI technology is reducing in price and is therefore within the reach of many SMEs who previously could not have considered it.

Technology can be used in many ways to improve employee experience, from simply providing the platform for social check-ins to proactively assessing the wellbeing of employees.           

In future, businesses will increase agility to cope with emerging situations, and freeing up over half of the HR resource to work on strategy and innovation that drives real improvement will be a quick win.

Refocus Your Definition Of Success

Trust has long been a factor in the success or failure of businesses, but the pandemic has thrown a new light on an age-old issue: can employers trust employees to put in the hours when they aren’t at their desk?

This attitude has been reinforced by old-fashioned performance assessments which involve ticking boxes to determine whether certain activities have been completed. Stephen Bevan believes the pandemic is “…. getting managers to decide what they value most: inputs, like the number of hours they spend at their screens or the number of emails they send, or outputs, such as creativity, innovation, collaboration and quality of the work they produce.”

These less tangible outputs are easily measured by technology such as SAP SuccessFactors and, by adopting a solution which links employee performance to training and development opportunities and physical or mental health considerations, companies can work towards a positive employee experience.

Stay focused on the positive though; a more worrying capability of technology is surveillance. This certainly isn’t part of a people-focused approach.

In summary, we can do much more by optimising and automating tasks that use time in the working day. By valuing how we use our workforce, we can improve employee experience by spending time where it really adds value. Then we’ll be ready for the new normal, whatever it may hold.

If you’d like to discuss how HR technology can play a role in addressing the new normal, get in touch

You may also be interested in reading our blog, 3 reasons to prioritise employee experience in the new normal.

Find out about the crucial role HR technology plays in today’s new normal with our Free Guide to HR Technology and Employee Experience

Download the Guide

For several years now, there has been an increased focus on meaningful work. Sometimes attributed to the number of millennials in the workplace, people are now looking for more than just a wage in return for their commitment and loyalty.

Collectively, our needs have become known as ‘employee experience’ and a 2019 survey by Deloitte showed that 84% of respondents rated this as an important issue, with 28% saying it was one of the three most urgent issues facing their organisation.

So why has employee experience become so important and how can you prioritise it as we continue to embrace the new normal?

1. The New Differentiator

Market sectors are becoming more competitive and our always-on world makes it harder for brands to stand out from the crowd. The things that move an organisation from good to great are becoming more niche. Research has shown that enterprises with the best employee experiences achieve twice the innovation, double the customer satisfaction and 25% higher profits than those with poor employee experience scores.

But it is still a new concept and very few businesses feel ready and able to address it.

If burnout and wellbeing were issues before 2020, then surely our focus on them must be a priority in 2021 and beyond. The coronavirus pandemic has added a whole new layer of stress into people’s lives, put extra pressure on us at home and at work and even removed some of the basic needs we have as humans, such as a sense of belonging.

To continue to evolve, businesses need to be able to cope with increased responsibility in terms of managing employees’ physical and mental health. There is a real need for regular dialogue to bridge remote working situations and a requirement to train everyone within the organisation in how to support themselves and others.

For your business to thrive, your people must thrive, so investing in solutions to help you manage employee experience is critical.

2. What Does Your Brand Stand For?

Just as our increased adoption of technology can help businesses to implement seamless onboarding, staff development and performance management, so the plethora of public platforms mean our brands are always in the public eye.

Your employees will all be using social media regularly and this is where a positive employee experience can really pay off. We know that prospective customers look at content before deciding on a vendor, and that they prefer authentic content rather than brand broadcasts. Your employees will speak out about their experience of work and can become fantastic brand ambassadors if this content is positive.

These ‘internal influencers’ also help when it comes to recruitment, with referral-based hires increasing which reportedly convert 55% more quickly, cost less to recruit, are quicker to onboard and stay longer in the organisation, according to research by Jobvite.

Add to this the proven statistic that organisations with connected employees enjoy 20-25% greater productivity (McKinsey) and investing in improving your employee experience starts to look as though it will pay for itself.

3. Sustainability Means Success

Another focus for forward-thinking businesses is the idea of building a culture of sustainability. Described as a business which has minimal negative impact – or even a positive impact – on their global or local environment, community, society or economy, a sustainable business strives to achieve so much more than simply delivering profit.

Contributing to a healthier future for our planet, as well as our people, is no longer a choice. Putting this goal at the heart of your business will certainly help attract and retain customers but it will also mean the best talent wants to work for you.

There is a strong school of thought that the sustainability route is the only one available for any businesses who want to remain competitive.

According to HSBC’s Made for the Future Report 66% of business say they will be improving their internal practices, recognising that a huge part of becoming sustainable is down to having healthier employees. Investment in systems and solutions that allow greater visibility of everything from employee wellbeing to supply chain credentials is therefore an early necessity.

Achieving a highly positive employee experience – and maintaining or growing it in the future – is clearly a priority for any business with their sights set on continued success. The pandemic has illustrated the need to adapt and adopt when it comes to technology and AI, resulting in a definite uptick in implementation across all market sectors.

Now is the time for strategic planning to include the technology solutions that will enable competitive growth, in-depth analysis of data and a better understanding of how your business and your people are performing.

If you’d like to find out how technology like SAP SuccessFactors can help you achieve your employee experience goals, let’s talk.

In the meantime, check out our latest guide on the crucial role that HR technology plays in today’s new normal.

Find out about the crucial role HR technology plays in today’s new normal with our Free Guide to HR Technology and Employee Experience

Download the Guide