Case Study: SAP Shows How Employee Wellbeing Boosts the Bottom Line

SAP is one of the most successful companies in Germany. Since its inception in 1972, it has become a multi-national enterprise software company with locations in 180 countries and over four hundred thousand customers. An underlying contributor to its business success is its commitment to employee wellbeing.

sap-smallEvidence shows that investing in employee wellbeing can deliver bottom-line returns. And when companies approach wellbeing as a core business strategy, and not solely to lower employer healthcare costs, it can lead to measurable ROI through higher engagement, lower turnover, and better productivity.

SAP sees enhancing its workforce’s health and quality of life as a core business enabler. Unlike companies that relegate employee issues to HR departments, SAP’s Co-CEOs and board leadership see employee wellbeing as a strategic priority that is planned, measured and improved upon because it contributes to SAPs bottom line profits.

“We don’t pretend that employee well-being is solely about making employees happier and healthier,” says Dr. Natalie Lotzmann, SAP’s Global Head of Health & Wellbeing Management. “It helps SAP become a more successful company. We ensure this by linking our workplace culture and investments in employee wellbeing to SAP’s business success and profit.”

Employee-Focused Programs

SAP employees clearly love working for the company, in part because of SAP’s supportive workplace culture, management, and wellbeing programs. Glass Door awarded SAP its 2019 Best Places To Work Award, and named it the “Number One Best Place to work” in Germany. SAP has won employee awards around the world, winning 175 awards in 2018 alone.

SAP takes a whole-person approach to health. It’s Onsite Health Services provides multiple onsite medical and psychological services, emergency management, a Return-to-Work-Program and health training.

The company also fosters a healthy workplace culture through health and wellbeing awareness campaigns, employee success stories, and by showcasing local SAP initiatives around the world. Its Health Ambassador Network offers employee wellbeing support and shares best practices within the company and covers 90% of its global workforce.

SAP supports parents with daycare programs and on-site childcare facilities in various locations and offers child conferences and parent coaching classes. New parents can take up to six weeks of paid family leave, and mothers can reduce work schedules during their first four weeks back to work after maternity and paid family leave with full pay and benefits.

To reduce employee stress and enhance work-life balance, flex time programs like SAP’s Flex Appeal in the US, give employees flexible work hours they can adjust to personal circumstances. SAP’s popular Dinner to Go program lets employees conveniently order healthy, pre-cooked and sealed meals from the “SAP Dinner to Go” app they can pick up in the canteen after work.

SAP takes employee mental health seriously. Its Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing Program campaign raises awareness and reduces stigmatization about mental health issues and encourages employees to get the (early) help they need. A key component of the program was an employee story on “Surviving Depression” that was widely read and embraced by SAP employees as part of a campaign to support employee mental health.

SAP also offers mindfulness and emotional intelligence workshops called Search Inside Yourself that are run by more than 9,000 trained practitioners with the goal of helping employees better deal with everyday stress and be more focused and productive at work. The programs are popular and have an 8,000 employee waiting list around the globe.

Wellbeing and the Bottom Line

SAP never loses sight of why it pursues employee wellbeing in the first place: to build a stronger, more profitable company. Its yearly Business Health Culture Index (BHCI) evaluates how employees are faring in terms of wellbeing and analyze business outcomes of its wellbeing efforts such as increasing employee productivity and engagement.

The BHCI began in 2009 when SAP started asking employees how they rated their own health and wellbeing. In 2014, the company expanded the survey to explore the correlation between employee engagement, employee retention, and operating profit and how SAP’s working environment contributes to reaching ambitious corporate goals.

This BHCI calculates the results of an annual online employee survey and collects employees’ responses (on a scale of 1 to 5) in seven different categories. Statements range from “I am proud to work for SAP,” “The high demands of my job do not interfere with my private life,” to “Compared to others of my age, I am in good health.” Approximately 72,000 employees participated in 2018, which equates to a response rate of 73%.

SAP can now analyze enterprise data and proven statistical calculations to document the financial impact of leading well-being indicators. The business impact of SAP’s well-being efforts is undeniable.

The SAP Integrated Report shows that the company’s wellbeing efforts have improve its Business Health Culture Index from 69% in 2013 to 78% in 2018, with each 1% change in the Index delivering a $90-$100 Million (EU) impact on their operating profit.

In terms of employee mental health, SAP programs contribute to higher employee engagement and leadership trust and lower absenteeism. Employees who took part in the mindfulness program have reported greater job satisfaction, more mental clarity, and improved creativity. Employees can call a free 24/7 helpline to receive mental health support. The globally available Employee Assistance Program, EAP, is available to all employees and their family members.

SAP’s strategic and systematic approach to human capital explains why SAP is a global leader in employee wellbeing. What really sets SAP apart is leadership. The CEO, Board of Directors and front-line managers see employee wellbeing as a management priority and ensure that SAP’s culture supports employee well-being as a top business objective.

“The physical and mental wellness of our team is paramount,” said recently departed CEO Bill McDermott. “If our people don’t take care of their health, ultimately everything else suffers, and I want everyone at SAP to have a dream job. I want people to be happy and to be inspired to have a thrilling career. The people who power this company are the most important part of it.”


This article was written with editorial support by Steven Van Yoder, co-founder of Returns On Wellbeing Institute.

Article reposted with permission from Jim Purcell. See full article on Forbes.

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