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Q8: Fueling the Future of HR

Switching to the cloud and building data is one thing. Unleashing them to the benefit of every employee and manager, another. Q8 did both, on a global scale. As a result, HR stepped up to become a driver of strategic change.

Innovation breeds more innovation. In 2018 Q8 launched a new global strategy, shifting its focus to sustainable mobility. More personalised and digitised customer services encompass that change of course, aimed at embracing and reinforcing the energy transition.

Q8 needed its entire HR framework to make a similar jump to the future, if it was to underpin and support business diversification. “It was time to lay our inhouse HR mainframe to rest”, says Olaf van Beyma, HR Director for Northwestern Europe at Q8. But what needed to come instead?

Olaf: “If our ambition was to bring personalised services to our customers, we felt the bar should be raised to the same height for our staff. We wanted something that would create a superior experience for them. And, as a globally operating company, we also had a pretty tough list of requirements.”

Blue chip community

One important concern was the protection of personal data, certainly when moving from an internal system to the cloud. “Security was key, as was impeccable uptime. Cost per employee and, as mentioned, UX were also very important to us. Add it all up, and not many solutions withstand the test. Eventually we partnered up with Workday. They scored best on all parameters. And they stood out with a convincing best practices model.”, says Olaf.

“We boast an active customer community”, adds Dorien Roes, Country Manager Belux at Workday. “They share experiences and best practices. They also participate in product development. A customer can put a requirement up for voting. Given enough votes, our developers take it up. That way, our community drives our suite to become ever better, ever more relevant.”

Olaf: “It’s reassuring to have a system that’s always up to date. And we took a careful look at the Workday community members. Lots of blue chip names, spread across many sectors. Many of them will also have to work their way through transitions. This matters, because to guide our new strategy, Q8 embraced experiment in our corporate culture. You just can’t plan your way to the future from a to z. You have to go for it, make decisions, but also be able to adapt when the circumstances demand it. That matches well with the open-ended feature of Workday and with the community that embodies a transitioning global economy”.

HR doesn’t own you

Switching to a future-oriented system sets in motion a whole chain of events. HR processes had to be reviewed. The way Q8 looks at talent,skills and personal development was reset.

“Don’t think of it as a technical solution you buy and install. We really looked for an extension to our strategy, a catalyst that starts spinning the wheel”, says Olaf. “A great example is that we already see managers using the suite on a daily basis. They have relevant insights about their teams at their fingertips. Data is being unleashed and used to reinforce the business. At the same time, more focus is going to the personal experience and journey of our people. Exactly what we wanted. That data doesn’t belong with HR. It belongs out there, where it can create value and enable human centered growth. It’s about that shift in ownership.”

With the data doing the heavy lifting, time becomes available for Olaf and his HR colleagues to get much more deep work done too. Discussing internal rotations, talent management and performance cycles, for instance, becomes much less a matter of pulling reports together – they’re already there – and much more of value added advice to business partners. Olaf: “You can throw yourself at the challenges that really matter.”

Hungry for more

While the Workday HR cloud solution gains traction with each new implemented module, expectations rise as well. “If you see the power of the tool, you want to do more and more with it”, says Olaf “like for instance I would like to start to connect the Q8 strategic workforce planning with talent module and the financial module. To be able to boost actively development by connecting the needs of the company and the needs of the employee. In addition, plan workforce planning with finance in order to plan and predict employee costs ahead. The platform has huge potential to help us navigate these challenges.”

Another pathway for future development involves employee engagement. “Within this framework, it must be possible to do even more to tighten the bond with our employees – for example with the Peakon tool which we are looking into. How is someone feeling today? What are his/her aspirations within the company? When is the right time to switch roles? How does he/she want corporate culture to change? Those are the things that matter. And technology can help us understand our people better. They remain the greatest asset a company can have, ever more so in a tech driven environment.” concludes Olaf.