Pöyry is a Finnish-headquartered management consulting and engineering company operating in 42 countries and serving clients across the global energy, industry and infrastructure sectors. As an expert organisation, Pöyry’s 5500 employees are highly educated – 70% of whom possess a higher academic degree. As a professional services company, Pöyry’s key assets are undoubtedly its people who contribute world-class sector expertise and deep insights and bring a strong focus on sustainability. Consequently, the big focus on people and skills requires a modern and efficient HR approach. At Pöyry, HR is seen as a major enabler to a successful and profitable business.
In February 2016, Pöyry reported another year of poor financial results and employee pride hit an all-time low. A major change and transformation project was needed and in March 2016, the newly appointed President and CEO, Martin à Porta, together with the support of his executive team and top 100 leaders, initiated a ‘10 Point Program’ to transform the whole organisation. At the heart of the Program was the drive to create an intrapreneurial culture that energised and empowered all employees to put the clients first and collaborate to create innovative solutions.
Pöyry’s new intrapreneurial culture and simplified approach led to ten consecutive quarters of growth, tripling the share price and increasing market attractiveness. Following this successful turnaround and transformation, in December 2018 Pöyry announced that it was joining forces with ÅF - a larger Swedish engineering and design company - to form a new company of 16,000 employees. In the new company, ÅF Pöyry, Hanna Summa works as VP, Head of HR Transformation & Digitalisation.
Digital remains key to the new company’s strategy where many of the developments introduced during the transformation of Pöyry help form a springboard for the new company to grow and develop to the next level.
Project Momentum – Transformation of HR
Integral to the 10 Point Program was ‘Project Momentum’ – an HR transformation program, led by Hanna Summa, SVP, Global Head of HR, to modernise and digitalise HR services.
Through Project Momentum, the company knew that it could realise smart efficiencies in the ways of working, enabling it to compete more successfully by having agile, simplified and contemporary systems. The five key aims of Project Momentum were to:
- Increase efficiency through process automation and simplification and the digitalisation of transactional HR services
- Minimise administration and reduce manual tasks, in order to free up time on tasks thus to add more value to business and clients
- Increase user friendliness and flexibility through easily accessible self-service functionality
- Increase transparency of HR service delivery and to remove bottlenecks; and
- Fulfil the requirements of authorities and to ensure compliance (e.g. GDPR).
HR was a key enabler to the transformation and long-term competitiveness of the company.
With HR hubs being widely spread across the planet, the workload was sometimes challenging to manage and there was a need for greater visibility and transparency across the whole organisation. There was a clear need to drive for smarter efficiencies.
The challenge was to assign resources to where there were needed most and to share workload across countries where it made sense. Bottlenecks appeared in some areas and a need for improvements in resource utilisation was needed. Pöyry sought to achieve transparency in performance to identify where the main pain points were and how they could improve.
At the same time, the existing HR systems had not been seen as the most user-friendly, for example, they were not accessible via mobile devices, which was a key user requirement. From an HR perspective systems were good at delivering processes, but had not been developed from the user point of view.
Pain Points and GDPR
Like many other global professional services companies, there are inherent pain points when operating across so many geographies. For example, each of the 42 countries that Pöyry works across has its own legislation, practices and ways of working. Consequently, it was not possible to have a ‘one fix for all’ solution with a single global process.
The HR team has had to adjust and adapt to the local needs, otherwise it was not really able to get into automating the processes. And then there is GDPR, which Pöyry treats with the upmost priority and as such, needs to adapt and have the necessary systems in place to support it appropriately
According to Hanna, “GDPR is something that is happening around us. When we started our transformation our goal was to drive for smart efficiencies, to look at areas where HR can add value and find a way to release resources to be able to do that in order to help drive the company forward – and not just about taking care of the legal requirements.”
She added, “We wanted to find a way of being very efficient in terms of resources in a complex business environment whilst sharing those resources. GDPR has been one element but has not been the sole driving force for this transformation, it has been much wider. We have aims of being a much more modern and digital HR operation going forward with the right systems and tools in place to support this, we are rethinking HR overall. Digitalisation itself of course is not the end destination, but by taking advantage of it we can deliver a fantastic service to our customers.
As for GDPR, it is seen as a key part of compliance and knowing that we have the right solutions in place and the transparency we need in a global organisation. Today, we know how we are operating, what documents we need to have, how they are kept and how they are retained.”
As a company, Pöyry has been going on a major cultural transformation and the HR journey with UKG has been instrumental. “The idea is that Pöyry has a culture of intrapreneurship. We have 5,500 employees thinking, acting and taking initiatives – thinking and acting like it was their own company, their own money. The UKG platform is supporting that because it gives the tools our regional HR employees need to be empowered to design and adjust their HR processes locally. It was essential to provide them with easy to use tools to get them started so that they could own and help themselves in automating and improving processes.
The project was completed in one year, using only the existing people resources in HR and with zero travel. Praising her team, Hanna asserts, “I was fortunate enough to have the best and most dedicated HR team ever, and with such a team you can achieve the impossible and jump to new heights. Together, we can!” The first country that went live was Finland in June 2018 and thereafter the new platform was rolled out in 42 countries. By the end of March 2019 the UKG HR Service Delivery platform was fully implemented in all countries and the feedback was great.
Hanna said, “This was a major journey, many did not believe we could roll this out in 42 countries in one year with zero travelling involved. Meetings were held by Skype, and no additional resources were involved. Our project manager in HR, Minna Laine has worked with the regional HR heads, setting expectations and helping people to jump.”
“Pöyry has had an HRIS system in place since 2012 and performance management is globally aligned but everything else, such as payroll, has been implemented locally. The project has been a good way of making SMART efficiencies and simplifying processes by questioning ourselves whether they have to be done for legislation reasons or whether it is because they have always been done that way.”
“Pöyry chose to start the journey with three HR processes: one. the hire; two. the change of employment: and three, the termination process. As a starting point, the project was designed for Finland and then necessary amendments were made. Key users in each country were selected to drive forward local initiatives and take ownership for further developments. Global precedents were created within the system for ‘how to behave within the platform’ covering what you can do and what you cannot do to make it easy for people to work within. Basically, we have taught our colleagues ‘how to fish’ and now they are fishing for themselves.”
“A better user experience leads to, the happiness of our people that is important to drive employee engagement which has a positive customer impact - all is connected.”
SVP, Global Head of HR
“We have a bi-weekly report based on KPI’s that looks at things such as the response follow up times, the number of processes that have been developed, what is in testing, what is in production and the number of documents created by country. We have a reporting matrix with a traffic light system to see where the countries are going.” “We started quite early to measure the NPS. When each query is closed the employee rates the experience between 0 and 10. Our NPS is somewhere around 30, which is considered good. This has been important as it has allowed us to react quickly to the feedback we get as the main target has been to improve the user experience. Our target is on the excellence side.”
The Business Case
“Achieving cost efficiencies was an important aspect of the business case, but not the only element.” said Hanna. “If we can put the right systems in place HR can become even more productive, by utilising our resources in a better way, increasing transparency in our ways of working and constantly finding ways to improve. We can then ensure all countries have a decent level of service, not just the ones where we have our HR people.”
“It was not about reducing headcount, but about getting more out of the team and releasing resources to be more supportive and to contribute even more value. The project was about ’value added HR’, replacing those admin elements with automated ways of supporting the business. That was what the project was about.”
“A better user experience leads to, the happiness of our people that is important to drive employee engagement which has a positive customer impact - all is connected. At the same time, by automating repetitive tasks our HR employees can spend more time on contributing value, which in turn is much more rewarding and fulfilling for them.”
“For the first year resources were tied to implementing the project and to the change management. Feedback from countries that have been using the UKG solution for the longest time have started to see efficiencies, not just about automated document generation, but especially in the area of contract signatures. This has been the one single thing we have been most thankful for. We sign a lot of employment contracts and this has delivered a huge efficiency improvement,” said Hanna. “When you think about employee contracts signature, it has a lot of printing, scanning and filing type of activities before we have the document properly signed and filed in the system. And then we have to take into account all the different time zones, people getting a huge number of emails, they have to find a printer and print it out and sign it. It gets printed with a black and white logo and then you have to print it again, all these little steps in between before you get a single document signed. That has been a major thing that HR has brought to people in a very long time and reduced the signature process significantly, especially as we are hiring a lot. Last year we hired 1,500 people.”
Challenges along the way
“There were not too many major challenges along the way although Germany was one of the last countries as it took nine months of negotiations with the worker’s councils. One cannot underestimate the importance of change management, taking time to explain to the line managers how to go forward. This was the case especially for those countries that were not accustomed to using self-service functionality. In Europe, the culture tends to be more used to self-serve but other countries needed more help. Some countries require paper copies for legislation purposes, therefore each country has different processes and the UKG system has helped because it is so flexible.”
Working with UKG
“It has been good working with the UKG team, like any system project there are always some hiccups but the good level of co-operation has enabled us to get things sorted out. And that’s what I appreciate. It would be naive to expect there are never any issues but it comes down to how we handle those challenges when they come along and find solutions.”
The biggest challenge was integration as Pöyry has an integration platform in place that acts as an interface between UKG and SuccessFactors. We worked together and found a solution to be able to implement the project as we wanted.” “
Any final advice?
“Believe you can do it. It requires from the organisations to learn how to jump, that is the term we used internally. The courage to jump into the deep-end and trust that we have the team and the solution to do it and we have shown that we can.”