Fun and competition goes a long way in learning: SAP

by L&D02 Sep 2016
L&D Professional interviews Jairo Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, SAP Asia Pacific Japan, for his insights. SAP is an enterprise application software company.
LDP: How do you go about ensuring that your employees are learning a lot from your training, and enjoying it?
JF: In order to promote SAP’s offerings and a learning mindset, we launched a region-wide learning culture campaign this year with the aim of creating a conducive environment for learning, providing the right learning opportunities, and illustrating the link between leading to success.
In SAP, employees’ Individual Development Plans (IDP) are of utmost significance. The IDP is a process whereby employees identify a career growth plan and engage in constructive dialogue with their managers to chart out their career goals.
To encourage all employees to have an Individual Development Plan (IDP), we introduced a fun element of healthy competition amongst teams to create momentum and incite motivation.
The challenge was kick-started by the SEA President who openly challenged one of his leaders in the SEA Senior Executive Team (SET) to have 100% of the employees in his team with an actionable IDP documented.
Once the challenge is accepted, the leader has one week to complete it and subsequently announce to the entire SET team with a victory photo attached upon successful completion of the challenge.
The leader then moves on to challenge the next leader in the SET team.
In the end, we achieved 100% completion of IDPs in Southeast Asia which is a great feat! Introducing an element of fun and healthy competition goes a long way in ensuring that employees are taking learning seriously.
LDP: What do you see as some of the most important parts of your L&D program?
JF: Technology is changing the way enterprises operate in the digital economy and learning fits right in the middle of it.
The learning ability of employees is instrumental for enterprises to succeed in the digital age, and enterprises need to invest in a robust L&D program for employees that ultimately have a clear impact on their business outcome.
At SAP, we strive to create a culture of continuous L&D and we firmly believe that every employee is in the driving seat of their career development.
By promoting a culture of continuous learning, employees become more engaged at work as they learn new skills that enhance their professional career.
In the digital economy cultivating a culture where learning can take place anytime, anywhere and anyhow is essential.
Employees want to work for an organissation that supports the achievement of their long-term career aspirations and it is imperative that we invest in transforming their learning experience.
Our commitment to learning is underscored by our 100 million euros investment for employees to learn. The majority of our learning and development budget is centrally managed and not on managerial discretion.
This allows every individual to benefit from learning programs without P&L pressure. Learning can spur innovation, speed and agility and has an immense positive impact to our bottom line.
LDP: What are some key lessons you have learned with regards to L&D?
JF: While employees see the value of learning and development, the daily grind of work might deter them from actively pursuing training opportunities.

As a strategic partner to the business and an advocate of talent within the organisation, this responsibility then lies with HR to identify, curate and promote learning programs which would enable employees to be successful in their jobs.
Communication to employees on L&D programs needs to be succinct with a call to action on what’s expected of them. Learning and development sets employees up for success and the ball is in HR’s court to convey the value of L&D to employees in a fun and engaging manner.

Part two of this interview will be published next week.