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Mobile HR tool shows the way for thousands of logistics employees

30 July 2021

The growth rate of logistics company H.Essers, both nationally and internationally, remains at a high level. To facilitate this process, HR processes need to be as efficient as the processes elsewhere in the organisation. This can be achieved through a digital transformation. “The technology facilitates a different approach to teamwork, although we are still one HR team.”

H.Essers chose Workday as its new integrated master database, with PwC overseeing the implementation. A user app will be the new central tool for the 7,000 employees of H.Essers, offering them greater transparency when it comes to their HR data. In spite of extensive digitisation, the focus remains on the employee. “An international driver can go days without seeing anyone. HR is their primary contact”, says Chief Human Resources Officer Mike Dautzenberg. “The same goes for the warehouse employees who work in shifts. We foster our family values in the company.”

Shared values like entrepreneurship and positivism also played a decisive role in why H.Essers chose to work with PwC for the implementation. They decided against a traditional relationship of customer and supplier. “The project managers of both parties are part of the team, which means they consider mutual interests and are confident about each other’s abilities,” says Eva De Vries, HR Technology Director.

One Team

The implementation of Workday is taking place in all European countries in which H.Essers operates. The HR Centre of Excellence will remain in Genk. “But we don’t impose our will from Limburg. The countries learn from each other during the international workshops. The HR professionals elsewhere in Europe are actively involved in the process. Incidentally, One Team is one of the eight building blocks of the HR strategy”, explains Dautzenberg.

An internationally integrated HR policy is essential for evolving along with the company goals. “Talent management, succession planning, recruitment, payroll and administration: all of these processes must take place flawlessly and uniformly.” That uniformity extends across all of the countries. Only legal requirements, social and cultural sensitivities are subject to local adaptations.


The technology enables a new way to work together. “Business process configuration ensures simplified and streamlined processes and data,” says De Vries. For H.Essers, the digital transformation provides a wealth of qualitative data that the company can use for management purposes. Instead of an arsenal of spreadsheets, there is now a single source with accurate data. KPIs like employee turnover, absenteeism, workforce planning and vacancy lead time are now displayed in a dashboard in a well-organised fashion, enabling fast and targeted interventions.

The mobile tool is the pivot in the collaboration between HR and the sizeable population of logistics employees to communicate information but will also help train them in the future. The project team devotes the necessary attention to training end users through short videos, webinars and the train-the-trainer method. The supervisors are involved in the test phase and act as ambassadors for their teams.

HR process

Mike Dautzenberg and Eva De Vries view the process as genuinely business driven. “But the scope of the integration also makes it a technological masterpiece”, they say proudly. Much time was spent on the preparatory phase, business case and attracting sponsors. To ensure a successful launch of Workday, they made countless assumptions during the process in terms of learning and performance. The scope is monitored closely. And the investment has paid off: the deviation from the budgeted implementation costs has been barely half a percent.

“In an HR cloud project, it’s important that implementation take place quickly because the bills keep coming. During the workshops, you must take sides and make decisions, so that the programming phase can get started.”

The H.Essers acquisition sprint has not reached the finish line. “The more acquisitions, the more you have to include the new companies in your processes and philosophy”, says Dautzenberg. PwC is training H.Essers’s HR specialists, so that they can oversee future integration exercises. This strengthens internal competencies and increases job satisfaction among these employees.

Future HR competencies

The HRIS team at H.Essers already has four members. What kinds of competencies and profiles will the HR department of the future require? “Certainly data specialists, as well as digital trainers and people with process-based thinking and a redesign reflex. The operational control and administration tasks are gradually decreasing as a result of the automation. That automated system is as lean as possible: the system core must be in perfect working order.”

HR has a customer-focused task to address challenges that provide greater added value, such as lifelong learning, employability, and absenteeism. The HR business partners monitor the company’s cultural norms and values. “The adoption of the digital transformation is linked to this and complementary to our current culture”, concludes Dautzenberg.

Three conclusions

1. Prepare a crystal-clear vision on process streamlining and simplification. Critically examine the current process and dare to challenge the sacred cows. Opt for transparency and mobile applications that provide data insight for every employee. HR acts as an effective manager of the data and shares it with the organisation as a facilitator.

2. Dare to take the plunge and launch projects despite the negative stories that may circulate. Prioritise your design principles and do not deviate from them along the way. Always keep your vision in mind.

3. Invest in a good partnership with stakeholders, such as your ICT department, in terms of both technical and functional aspects.


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