SAP Canada Inc.’s vice-president and head of human resources talks embracing flexible working, keeping the “human” in HR and winter sports.

Q. What top challenges do you face in your role?

A. SAP is a global organization, so everything we do must be within the context of what works for us in the country but with the backdrop of understanding global implications. Many of our employees report to managers outside of Canada . . . so ensuring that effective leadership, structures, programming and other aspects play into an employee’s experience is a massive cross-functional effort.

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Another challenge is how we continue to engage and support our organization during the coronavirus pandemic, spanning everything from the practical pieces of office re-opening and logistical topics [related] to the future of work.

Q. What new programs or initiatives are you looking to implement?

A. We just implemented flex work, which is an ongoing iterative process. We’ve also done a full audit of what benefits we offer employees in terms of their health and how we can potentially evolve those programs in the future. We’ve also really focused a lot on diversity and inclusion and have just announced a partnership with the First Nations Technology Council, which is a really important partnership for us because it signals our commitment to Indigenous inclusion and recognizing the role that corporate organizations play in reconciliation in this country.

Q. What programs do you consider the most successful or that you’re most proud of?

A. I’m incredibly proud of the extensive benefits portfolio that we provide to our employees. We’re really focused on how we can support the holistic needs of employees, whether it’s financial, mental or physical wellness.

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I’m also really proud of the position SAP has taken on flexible working. SAP has decided it won’t mandate any one specific way the entire company has to operate and, instead, wants to create a trust-based environment where teams can work the way that’s best for them.

Q. What key HR issues do you expect in the year ahead?

Career crib sheet

March 2021 – Present
Vice-president and head of HR, SAP Canada Inc.

May 2019 – February 2021
Vice-president of HR, SAP Canada

October 2016 – April 2019
Global HR director, SAP Concur

March 2016 – October 2016
Senior manager of talent programs and HR business partner, Canfor Corp.

January 2012 – March 2016
Senior HR business partner, SAP Canada

A. The year ahead will be about responding to how the workplace needs to evolve. Employers need to consider how to use technology to create effective HR, while keeping the ‘human’ in the practice. Technology can provide a lot of solutions for us and that will be critical to assessing things like how we define skills and training. One thing we’re finding in this pandemic is that people need a lot of support, which organizations can’t only provide through a process or a ticket or a piece of technology. Employees need to know there are empathy-driven people who understand how to support their needs.

Q. What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

A. I have two kids — a six year old and an eight year old. I always joke that my kids are my hobby because they take up a lot of my time and I really enjoy doing things with them. In the winter, I like to snowboard and ski. I also like to paint.

Read: 2021 BPS coverage: New disruptors awaiting employers in the post-pandemic workplace

Q. What’s your favourite employee benefit and why?

A. One of the most important benefits an employer can offer is the employee assistance program. At one point in my life, I used the EAP and it helped me make a life decision. An employer’s ability to support people through personal crisis or through difficult times is a key indicator of an organization that can retain talent. It’s a resource that’s important, valuable and really critical.

Lauren Bailey is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.