How One Digital HR System Gave Energy Company ENGIE A Vehicle For Change

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As head of HR information systems at global energy player ENGIE, Violaine Pons-Vidart and her team were given a challenge: Roll out a companywide HR digital system at the same time that the group, which delivers electricity, natural gas, and energy services, was launching an ambitious three-year strategic transformation plan.

Courtesy of ENGIE/Miro Meyssonnier

That transformation plan was built around three structural trends: decarbonization, digitalization, and decentralization. The group’s business model is based on responsible growth while it takes on the major challenges associated with the energy industry’s transition to a low-carbon economy: access to sustainable energy, climate-change mitigation, and the rational use of resources.

Initiating such a big project, dubbed “OneHR,” during a large-scale reorganization of ENGIE’s 24 business units may sound like poor timing. On the contrary, the timing was opportune because ENGIE wanted to shift toward a decentralized structure while remaining “one company.” Achieving that goal would require not only adapting the group’s structure but also changing its culture and introducing new ways of management.

ENGIE had little experience using companywide HR applications, so as project directors, Pons-Vidart and her team were building new bridges. “There was a subject of trust for the business units—trusting the group to provide HR tools with a satisfactory service level that would fit the evolving needs of the business,” she says.

ENGIE chose Oracle HCM Cloud on which to build its HR IT system, which serves 150,000 employees in 70 countries. The system allows ENGIE to digitize activities that were often paper- or Excel-based, such as goal setting, performance assessment, and compensation campaigns. ENGIE also expects the system to facilitate significant consolidation of data related to headcount and employee mobility.

The HR system is critical to ENGIE’s cultural change, by spreading a common language and new practices. For example, OneHR will embed new leadership competencies that the group wants to promote among its 33,000 managers, and it will support new performance and rewards policies.

The larger ambition is to harmonize HR activities in all parts of the company while promoting simplified and agile ways of working. That way, employees moving from one part of the group to another are sure to encounter a system with which they’re already familiar. Employee mobility and employability are big priorities at ENGIE, which wants to make it easy for employees to seek opportunities in other business units or entities and to take an active part in their own professional development. OneHR will help by making it easier to search for internal job vacancies, define career development goals, and self-assess competencies.

Digital Simplicity

The guiding principle for OneHR, articulated by ENGIE’s HR leadership team, was to make the system as simple as possible.

“Every time we move away from the ‘keep it simple’ rule, we end up with complex features that do not get buy-in from end users,” Pons-Vidart says. “Going digital should be nothing more than providing added-value services in a simple form, using technology as an enabler. It’s about simplifying collaboration and processes in a rapid and straightforward manner.”

The other element of simplicity comes from moving to the cloud itself. As opposed to on-premises HR software, which required long and costly upgrades and testing, Oracle HCM Cloud software lets ENGIE focus on which opportunities to take, in terms of new features to implement and new business requests to deliver.

One of the first achievements of the OneHR project implementation was the goals-setting process. In fewer than 18 months, ENGIE implemented a pilot version and an improved version, and it just launched a mobile app version that will, on top of creating and updating goals, allow executives to make their goals visible to others, in the spirit of transparency and strategic alignment.

The cloud, by providing a way to support rapid change, is proving to be a powerful tool for global companies like ENGIE.

Chris Murphy is Oracle director of cloud content.

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