“Candidates and employees can afford to be choosier than in the past,” says Stefan Ries, Chief Human Resources Officer of SAP. “[This] means employers must learn how to market their open positions in ways that resonate with what today’s jobseekers are looking for.”
In other words, candidates and employees are in the drivers’ seat. With the job market favoring job seekers, companies are doubling down on company culture and employee engagement to attract and retain top talent. However, SAP is in a class of its own. The enterprise application software company has set a mission of helping companies of all sizes and industries run better, and for its employees, SAP is laser-focused on supporting, challenging and inspiring every day. It’s no wonder SAP was named a Best Place to Work by Glassdoor in 2018.
With a 4.4 company rating, SAP has an enviable company culture that 92% of employees would recommend to a friend. CEO Bill McDermott has a 97% approval rating on Glassdoor, and reading reviews of the company is an exercise in professional FOMO for those of us who don’t work for the German-based company.
“The company has also invested in continuous learning, mentoring, development opportunities and flexible working hours,” says Ries, revealing a bit of SAP’s ‘secret sauce’. “By listening and keeping a close eye on our culture, career opportunities, management, and compensation & benefits, we can give back to employees to ensure they are in a healthy environment with inspirational leaders, room for growth, and reward them appropriately. Glassdoor is a critical tool to help us do that.”
On the heels of SAP’s Best Places to Work win, we caught up with SAP to dig into what makes their company tick and why it could be the home of your dream job.
Glassdoor: Congratulations on winning the Best Places to Work award this year! How does it feel for you to know that your employees love working for SAP?
Stefan Ries: Thank you, it feels great. It’s an incredible achievement that SAP is one of only two employers to receive all five Glassdoor ‘Best Places to Work’ awards. This award is a strong endorsement of our efforts to provide a consistent and meaningful employee experience across the globe. Seeing this kind of a result is a powerful statement and affirmation that our employees love working at SAP.
Glassdoor: What do you do to foster employee trust and engagement for a global company with employees spanning many countries and cities?
Stefan Ries: At SAP, we understand how important it is to let employees voice their opinions and feedback. Transparency and trust are deeply anchored in our company culture. We strive to ensure that our employees are aware of the many open communication channels including through Glassdoor & our ‘Life at SAP’ social media channels, all-hands meetings, annual People Surveys, coffee corner sessions with senior leadership, virtual collaboration & discussion spaces, and more. These channels and tools are available to ensure we foster dialogue among and beyond individual teams, leaders – as well as to ensure we give our people platforms to express their concerns, share their ideas and discuss their questions with leaders.
We also have internal departments focused specifically on helping our employees and leaders succeed in their roles and build their careers – particularly Mentoring Programs, Learning & Career Development programs, Business Network Groups, Success Counseling Centers at our offices, and more.
Glassdoor: Is there one stand-out thing you and your team did in 2017 to help build a great company culture?
Stefan Ries: It’s hard to break it down to one single aspect. Employee trust and engagement do not come overnight. This is the result of many efforts over years – and the journey continues each new day. We can’t take trust for granted. And it must come from both sides: the top leaders and our employees.
If I have to narrow it down to one thing that we have developed over the past years, I would say it’s that SAP runs with purpose. At SAP, we have a vision: we are committed to helping every customer become a best-run business. Now more than ever, being the best means making a difference. It means connecting people and information to address the world’s biggest challenges. This is what we do. That’s why we engineer solutions to fuel innovation, foster equality, and spread opportunity across borders and cultures. Every time our customers turn their ideas into action, we help improve people’s lives. Together, we can transform industries, grow economies, lift up societies and sustain our environment.
Glassdoor: Your employees love working here as we see the strong rating on Glassdoor. How do you make this a great place to work day in and day out?
Stefan Ries: Candidates and employees can afford to be choosier than in the past, which means employers must learn how to market their open positions in ways that resonate with what today’s jobseekers are looking for. Our employee value proposition (EVP) “Bring Everything You Are, Become Everything You Want,” is designed specifically to appeal to the desire among today’s candidates to get a genuine sense of what it’s like to work at a company. The campaign includes video testimonials from a diverse group of SAP employees explaining what drew them to the company and what keeps them here. The best way to communicate our EVP is to have employees speak on our behalf in their authentic voice. As such, our employees provide tangible examples of how SAP fosters a culture of openness, encouragement, and innovation, and how we challenge and inspire each other.
The company has also invested in continuous learning, mentoring, development opportunities and flexible working hours. By listening and keeping a close eye on our culture, career opportunities, management, and compensation & benefits, we can give back to employees to ensure they are in a healthy environment with inspirational leaders, room for growth, and reward them appropriately. Glassdoor is a critical tool to help us do that.
Glassdoor: Good leadership is not just one person. How do you work w/ your management teams to make sure employees have great leadership here?
Stefan Ries: Leadership performance and development are important topics for us at SAP. We look for leaders who embody the SAP leadership principles: drive simplicity, ensure customer success and develop amazing talent. Throughout the year, we encourage our leaders to engage in their personal development plans. To help our leaders execute successfully in their roles, we invest a lot in learning. Some years ago we have built leadership training curricula for each level that are mandatory for all managers. Ultimately, at SAP, we have a culture that embodies transparency and open dialogue between colleagues of all professional levels to build a firm environment of mutual trust and respect.
Additionally, we have many unique programs to foster our employees’ development, such as the Women Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program (LEAP), which is designed to maximize the unique value women bring to the workplace. LEAP addresses the specific leadership development needs of females and equips participants with the right skills, knowledge and leadership behaviors. Thanks to programs we have like LEAP, we have a stronger pipeline of leaders that are more prepared to take on business challenges and be role models to up and coming leaders.
Glassdoor: What is the best part about working here?
Stefan Ries: The people. It’s not cliché. I truly believe SAP’s people are a diverse group who bring their own experiences and ideas to the table. They create this exciting work environment and together they can succeed in anything. We are innovators and we strive to help the work run better and improve people’s lives.
Glassdoor: What do you look for in informed candidates?
Stefan Ries: Since our people are our greatest assets and the source of SAP’s innovation and continued success we choose them carefully and hope to attract the right ones. We are always on the lookout for people with diverse personal and professional backgrounds who are true team players and think outside-of-the-box. We look for passionate, authentic and genuine individuals who are in turn looking for a place they can come to help make an impact.
See our latest campaign “Bring Everything You Are. Become Everything You Want” or “Business Beyond Bias”. These campaigns features SAP employees who have achieved great things in their personal and professional lives and who have special pride in SAP. Reading these colleagues’ stories is something that personally motivates me. We hope that by featuring our own employees and their stories, we can inspire others to join our SAP family as well.
Glassdoor: How do you recruit talent? What are some of your best practices?
Stefan Ries: We realized if we want to attract the right talent, we have to be pro-active and be where our talent is. We are very active on social media, partner with key universities, and local schools to build relationships and expand our networks. This includes programs such as the University Alliances or our SAP Student Entrepreneurship Program.
We have also developed unique applications like our virtual “Get Home” game and “Perfect Match” Facebook app, which help us identify potential fits at SAP. These provide instant personality profiles and match roles for the candidates. We also provide an immediate, 3-page feedback report for candidates, which go to the hiring manager with suggested interview questions and training plans for new hires so everyone is fully prepared and knowledgeable of what to expect.
Moreover, we have developed a “Recruiter Playbook” for those HR teams that are hiring. This is our “how to” guide to recruitment at SAP. The playbook includes data points, facts, and figures but also includes personal stories and insights into our history, culture, strategy, and getting to know what it is like to work here. This ensures our recruiters are one of the first-line ambassadors to the company and ready to answer any company questions the candidates may have.
Finally, our candidates can check out our award-winning careers website, browsing through the many content areas to make sure SAP is the right fit. The candidate can also very quickly join our Talent Community, even before starting any sort of interview process, ensuring they get the information they need via regular updates straight from the source. Once a candidate lands an interview, we provide them with our unique “Brand Insights” digital flipbook. This document helps outline SAP’s culture, history, purpose but even more importantly highlights the employee and customer stories that have had a huge impact.
Glassdoor: How do you keep top talent at SAP?
Stefan Ries: It is a priority for us at SAP to foster a work culture that makes everyone feel valued, empowered, and trusted. By focusing on these criteria, coupled with our “How We Run” behaviors, we aim to maintain a work environment that is comfortable for everyone. “How We Run” was developed from employees for employees – and these behaviors are the basis for how we operate and work with each other – and our customers:
- Tell it like it is.
- Build bridges not silos.
- Keep the promise.
- Stay curious.
- Embrace differences.
In addition, our formal onboarding processes assigns each new employee a “buddy” to assist with the transitions for new hires. And we continuously invest into learning. In 2017, the learning budget was 185 Mio. Euros (2016: 140 Mio. Euros).
Glassdoor: For many job seekers, their decision on where to work comes down to the benefits. What are some of the coolest or most unique perks and benefits you offer?
Stefan Ries: One of the coolest and most unique benefits SAP offers to its employees is the award-winning Own SAP equity plan. Own SAP enables employees to purchase company shares with a generous employer contribution and low investment risk. On top of their own investment, participants benefit from a 40% matching contribution and an additional €20 per month (for non-executives). So far, more than 70% of SAP employees worldwide are participating in Own SAP, showing that its employees believe in SAP and want to become shareholders.