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SAP: A Head Start on Demographic Change
In the software industry, where innovation is a driving force for generating revenue, employees play a big role in determining a company´s value. Employees shape innovation and ideas to create new software products and services that benefit customers and lead to profitable business. The employees are the most valuable, most important resource in the innovation process. At SAP, the healthy balance of young employees, including recent university graduates, and more experienced employees is fundamental to the company´s success.
On average, SAP employees are 37 years old and have worked at the company for five years. The dynamic environment that currently exists at SAP is clear to see. In the long term, however, the homogeneity of its workforce´s age will be a major challenge for SAP - more so than the cultural diversity of its employees. Employees currently in the 35 - 40 age group represent approximately 50 percent of the workforce. They will age together as a group, and with SAP as a company, resulting in specific challenges for strategic personnel management. SAP already uses several human resources tools to approach this impending demographic challenge. For example, SAP operates an exemplary internal health service for its Germany-based employees. A wide range of sports programs gives employees ample opportunity to take care of their physical and mental well-being, either at the workplace or nearby, and on their own time. Employees also call upon the many preventative health services provided by internal and external health-care providers.
Each employee´s individual work-life balance is important, and SAP offers facilities for various target groups. For example, work-life management workshops help employees identify and initiate measures to improve their work-life balance. SAP`s flexible working time systems are also fundamental to its relationship with employees: Employees are trusted to manage their own working hours. Job-sharing, part-time employment, or working from home gives employees the flexibility to balance their professional and personal lives. Enabling employees to be both parents and employees is crucial. At the company headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, SAP provides a parent-child office where parents can bring their children to work if normal childcare arrangements fall through at short notice.
Responses to internal employee surveys and projects have shown that employees currently do not see any generation conflicts at SAP. Nevertheless, SAP supports managers and project heads leading mixed-age teams and offers brief workshops on working in and managing teams with heterogeneous age structures. In all of these activities, SAP recognizes and stresses that demographic change is a challenge for all generations going forward.
Heidrun Kleefeld, HR Center of Excellence Organizational Effectiveness,
Stephanie Raabe, Sustainability Operations,
Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business e.V.
econsense is an association of leading, globally active companies and organisations of German business specializing in the area of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Founded in 2000 on the initiative of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the goal of econsense is to provide a dialogue platform and think tank, with the dual objectives of advancing sustainable development in business and assuming social responsibility.