From HR to People Success: the evolution of the Unit4 people strategy | Unit4
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From HR to People Success: the evolution of the Unit4 people strategy

from  June 11, 2021 | 5 min read

Over the past 2 years, Unit4 has undertaken a complete transformation creating a truly people-first culture and reinventing HR with new People Success teams… Evolving HR from a more traditional 20th century approach to a fully modern “people success” strategy that encompasses not just our own people, but our customers and the communities in which we all live and work, has been central to our vision.

Moving from a traditional HR mindset to a people success mindset is a matter of thinking holistically about every aspect of the way people interact with us. Like our customers, Unit4’s greatest assets are our people. Our business value lies in our People functions: product design, engineering, sales, marketing, leadership... We can only be successful if we ensure their success.

We’ve moved away from HR departments that are focused on ensuring compliance and decreasing liability for the organization, to maximizing the value of employees and the value we deliver to them, so everyone can be the best version of themselves. The journey starts from the candidate attraction experience through to enabling self-driving career focus with no guard rails that limit the possible even if it means that the next natural step is to leave the organization to take the next step in the adventure.

People first begins with values

Our journey towards people success started with the formulation of our values. And we believe that this is no accident. We’ve made a commitment to them that allows us to pursue a truly holistic people focused strategy both because they provide a solid starting point and because they encourage us to do so by their very nature. We can’t pursue a strategy that’s “people first” if we’re unwilling to be genuine and curious about the future. And we can’t make an impact if we don’t give our people the tools and resources needed to do it – material, physical, emotional, and in relation to skills.

What a difference a crisis makes: the role of COVID in our people success transformation

Although many of these changes have coincided with COVID (which has affected every aspect of how we all live and do business), they’ve been in the pipeline for a while. COVID merely provided the impetus to implement many of our new initiatives much more quickly than we would otherwise have done. And for one very simple reason – necessity.

Starting in March last year, we began a program to create a more flexible model of work that allows our people to work where and when they want to. In under a year, we believe we’ve proved conclusively that not only is working remotely in the long term possible, it’s sustainable and even beneficial to our productivity and goals and to the health and wellbeing of our people.

Added to that our work/life balance policy which provides people with unlimited leave, we’re providing a truly flexible workplace where people are supported to drive their own success.

Safeguarding our people so we can all work better

Knowing this has allowed us to build on our existing initiatives to create a culture of trust, flexibility, and choice that empowers everyone to create a workspace environment that suits them, the needs of their position within the framework of the country they work in.

In order to help our people combat the challenges that come with lockdowns – from social isolation to the intrusion of work into our home lives and beyond – we’ve introduced a variety of mental and physical wellbeing initiatives designed to ensure everyone has the toolkits they need to stay healthy and happy while they work.

We’ve also upgraded the way that both we and our customers can engage with our people and stay on top of their needs. Our acquisition of Intuo (recently renamed Unit4 Talent Management) allows us to track the engagement, sentiment, and performance of our people in real time. Letting leaders know how everyone’s doing and when their teams need a helping hand in real time and proactively providing training and learning recommendations to ensure everyone keeps developing.

A commitment to learning

Because we know that everyone wants to be the best possible version of themselves – and because we’ve got a fantastic community of people working across disciplines right here in the company – we’ve also taken a leap towards continuous learning. One new initiative is our learning festival hosted twice a year. Designed for all of our people and aimed at the virtual landscape, this week-long event consists of a variety of short sessions curated to let our people explore entirely new subjects, brush up their skills in familiar areas, or extend their knowledge base in partnership with other members of the Unit4 family.

People success means success for everyone

Beyond the workspace, we’ve also taken this year to re-examine corporate social responsibility. Our hope is for all our CSR initiatives to have a positive impact on the world and on communities that our people, customers, and their customers live in. To that end, our cloud software is already carbon neutral – and will be powered completely by renewable energy by 2025.

To support environmental projects in a way that actively benefits marginalized communities, we’re also planting a tree in our virtual Customer Forest for every customer in partnership with Treedom, creating local biodiversity and economic opportunities while also absorbing CO2 (734,670kg so far, to be precise!)

People strategy supports business strategy

One of the things this journey has really helped us to appreciate in the People Success team and in the company’s global leadership team is that a people success strategy isn’t simply a branding exercise. It’s a vital element of how we do business, and a key element of a good business model.

It’s not just our leaders, our people, and our culture that’s seeing the benefits of our transformation. Our customer success teams and our customers themselves are as well – and it’s not difficult to see why. Effective customer service – and effective product delivery for that matter – is only possible if company culture really engages people and inspires them to do their jobs in a way that contributes to the success of others.

The culture and capabilities of an organization--derived from the way it manages its people--are the real and enduring sources of competitive advantage. We’ve redefined the ultimate goal of the-area-formerly-known-as-HR: More data, less bureaucracy. More focus on the individual teammate, less time spent being a mouthpiece of management. We understand that people are looking for more than just a place to work these days.

I’m pleased to say, at Unit4 at least, traditional HR is a thing of the past. We don’t wait to be told decisions, we proactively create goal-based programs based on input and feedback from our people that help drive our business ambitions. More companies are moving towards this People Success philosophy, and I’m excited about the future for People Success leaders and teams. There is so much we can do for people and organizations – no leadership team should be without People Success.

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Image of Lisa Dodman - Chief People Officer at Unit4

Lisa Dodman

Unit4 Chief People Success Officer

Lisa has spent 25 years in HR working globally within generalist roles, and 18 years in the software industry largely in ERP and PLM organizations. Used to defining strategy and driving business transformations, Lisa has been instrumental since joining Unit4 in 2015, refocusing the business on talent enablement, leadership development, millennial hiring and engagement