The concept of employee experience has become so foundational to HR strategy that it is no longer a standalone trend, but an integral part of all employment meta-trends in 2023, experts from SAP and its customers across the region agreed this week at SAP HR Connect event held at Dubai’s Museum of the Future.
The SAP SuccessFactors Growth & Insights Team’s research, presented throughout the event, identified seven major trends shaping the HR industry for 2023. Natali Stajner, SuccessFactors Director Middle East South at SAP, pointed out three new trends emerging for this year are the increased competition among businesses for skilled talent; a focus on embedding holistic wellbeing – including financial wellbeing – into HR practices; and a renewed focus on managerial readiness among employees.
The four recurring trends identified by the research are the adoption of emerging technologies – with AI and the Metaverse receiving particular attention in 2023; a recognition that flexible working environments are here to stay and how to make the most of them; ways to mobilize a workforce for the future; and embracing the complexity of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) policies.
“All of these trends are being shaped by – and are themselves shaping – the employee experience,” commented Nelly Boustany, Senior Director, Human Experience Value Advisor, SAP. “Providing a positive employee experience across these 2023 trends will maintain current employees’ engagement and combat the phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’, where employees disengage and put in only minimal effort. Emphasizing fair pay for contributions, recognizing work, and providing tools and technology that make employees’ work easier, all enhance the employee experience and contribute to increased engagement.”
Boustany, who delivered a talk on HR priorities for 2023 at the SAP event, also referenced a lesser-known phenomenon, ‘quiet hiring’, which refers to filling skills gaps by upskilling and reskilling existing colleagues with specific talents, rather than adding new full-time employees. She remarked that global economic uncertainty is shaping this trend in 2023, particularly as many organizations are subject to external hiring freezes.
Customer insights on technology in HR
As far as embracing intelligent technologies is concerned, Boustany highlighted that the 2023 trends suggest that organizations are broadening their scope of investments to explore applications across talent management and development, employee engagement, DEIB, and employee well-being. She also noted that the Metaverse/Web3.0 were key topics across all trends, and progressive organizations have started exploring potential use cases of these technologies. As early examples, virtual and augmented reality has been leveraged for learning and development, as well as collaboration, although adoption costs are high.
Experts from SAP’s customers across the region also spoke at SAP HR Connect, sharing their own experiences and success stories of how technology can improve employee experience.
Commenting on the sidelines of the event, speaker Farha Muhanna Al-Kuwari, Human Resources Information Systems Centre Director at Qatar’s Civil Service and Government Development Bureau (CGB), said: “CGB and SAP have enjoyed a partnership that spans over a decade, playing a pivotal role in transforming Mawared, the HR system of the Qatar Government. Our joint efforts have resulted in standardization of processes and enhanced operations, thanks to the leveraging of cutting-edge technologies. This partnership underscores our commitment to continuous progress and innovation, which perfectly aligns with the goals outlined in Qatar’s National Vision 2030”.
Another customer speaker, Therese Magdy Ishak, VP People & Culture, MAGRABi, said, “Our Mission at MAGRABi is re-envisioning the world of eyewear to empower the lifestyles of millions. What better way to efficiently contribute to the accomplishment of this mission than making the life of our people easier by giving them the full experience of digitalized HR services and expanding it to every function through different SAP SuccessFactors modules. The result is a full Plan’it – ‘planet’ – where all HR services are at employees’ fingertips, providing a seamless digitalized experience serving all our functions and generations in our operating markets.”
Several digital solutions capable of addressing the current HR challenges and trends were also showcased at the SAP event, which was themed ‘Change Work for Good’ and had Talenteam as its platinum sponsor. These solutions include SAP SuccessFactors for human resources and engagement management, and SAP Fieldglass for services procurement and external workforce management.
SAP in May announced that it has expanded its partnership with Microsoft to realize its vision of enterprise-ready generative AI capable of enhancing human productivity and development in the workplace. The integration of SAP SuccessFactors solutions with Microsoft 365 Copilot and Copilot in Viva Learning will improve how organizations recruit, retain, and upskill their workforces to address skills gaps.
As part of this announcement, Stajner said SAP has three innovations planned for SuccessFactors in H2 2023, with the first being embedded generative AI capabilities to enhance recruiting and learning processes as well as employee experience. The second innovation is the introduction of a talent intelligence hub that uses AI to build, maintain, and infer a skills portfolio for each employee in the workforce. The third is an enhanced total workforce management functionality that brings together SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Fieldglass, and SAP S/4HANA Cloud for increased workforce visibility across employees and external workers.
Murad Sahawneh, Group Chief Human Resource Officer at Qatar’s Power International Holding, who was also a speaker at HR Connect, welcomed these announcements. He commented, “Innovation to Power International Holding is key to survive and outgrow competitors in today’s rapidly changing environment. SAP’s powerful platform enables us to tackle the necessary touchpoints for our people and elevate a seamless service delivery model across the group. We are so excited about the new innovations to be introduced, which I am sure will take the employee experience to a whole new level.”
The HR Connect event included several exceptional human experience management (HXM) transformations being recognized by SAP in a variety of industries, namely, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Public Sector), Petroleum Development of Oman (Oil & Gas); Oman Cement Company (Construction); Midstar (Agriculture), National Bank of Fujairah (Financial), Ooredoo Qatar (Telecommunications), Chalhoub (Retail) and G42 (Tech AI).
In addition, special awards recognized major accomplishments, with the Fastest HXM Transformation Award in 2022 won by The Zubair Corporation LLC; the HXM Innovation Award 2022 won by Shell Oman Marketing, and the HXM Challenger Award 2022 won by DAL Group of Companies for achieving excellent results in the face of significant challenges.