Tuesday Jan 24, 2023

Inside Insights: Workforce Planning for 2023 & Beyond with William ”Bill” Newman

In this next series of Tech-Driven Business, William ("Bill") Newman, Industry Executive Advisor at SAP North America, rejoins Mustansir Saifuddin to discuss how Workforce Planning has evolved through out the pandemic. This includes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, changes in business operational styles, talent acquisition and retention, and how SAP is playing a role in this landscape. From not only supporting customers with their talent attraction and retention to providing access to education to expand the talent pool, SAP continues to be an important player in the tech industry.

Bill has over 35 years of executive leadership, strategy, consulting, practice management experience balanced with extensive public speaking and higher education experience. A former leadership team member for Volkswagen’s IT division, he is the author of two books on enterprise performance and has worked with many OEMs and suppliers across the automotive industry. 

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Mustansir Saifuddin

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:04.090] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Welcome to Tech-driven Business. Brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. In this first episode of a multipart series, I welcome back Bill Newman of SAP listen in as Bill shares his thoughts on how workforce planning has evolved in the pandemic. There are so many moving pieces to the puzzle and Bill hits on what businesses of all sizes should be aware of.


[00:00:30.730] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Hello, Bill. How are you?


[00:00:33.530] - Bill Newman

Great. Mustansir. Good to be back with you again.


[00:00:36.970] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Thank you. Thank you for joining us. It's been a while, so it's really good to have you back on our show.


[00:00:42.590] - Bill Newman

Good to be back with you. Good topic to revisit now that it's been a little while, for sure.


[00:00:49.730] - Mustansir Saifuddin

I think today we will focus on workforce planning and DEI. That's what we want to talk about and get some real examples from you and how things have progressed over since our last conversation. So if you're ready, we can get into our questions.


[00:01:10.230] - Bill Newman

Let's dive in.


[00:01:12.390] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Sounds good. So I know when you last joined me, we were in the midst of a pandemic, right? And looking back at 2022, what changes have you seen and where do you see us going?


[00:01:28.330] - Bill Newman

Well, I think the biggest change is that we're all we're all back together again, right? We're all working. We're working differently. So obviously there's a lot of technology that has been provided to enable remote work that's become mainstream. And in fact, in many cases, it's de facto. Whereas prior to the pandemic, we would say, tell me why we can't get together face to face. The kind of the thinking now is, tell me why we can't do this virtually. Right? Everybody's kind of enjoyed not only do they have the technology to work remotely, many people have enjoyed the fact that they haven't had to spend two, three, 4 hours a day commuting or traveling. So if we need to, we will. If we don't, why should we? It's even gotten to a point where a lot of our customers have asked their employees, tell me what days you would be willing to come into the office. And no big surprise, very few people lift their hand on Monday and Friday because they would like to spend those days at least working from home to have a little bit more of a work life or life work balance.


[00:02:47.270] - Bill Newman

But interestingly, everybody coming into the office on Wednesdays just creates the same traffic nightmare and parking anxiety that everybody had prior to the pandemic. So that's always an interesting facet. I think the way that we engage with people both in terms of how we bring them into the company and what our expectations are of them once they're in the company, I think has certainly changed. I think about some of the prioritizations and I guess what's a good word for it, some of the glamour that kind of went along with working for, say, for example, a high tech company in Silicon Valley. Well, guess what? You can probably work for that same company and work in Asheville, North Carolina, up in the mountains eating fish tacos at night. So there's really lots of different opportunities to work. So the glamour around working for some of these companies where you would come in, you get the ping pong table, you could bring your pet to work, you could get free lunches, free dinners, almost create an environment where you'd never want to leave, particularly if you were at the time of young millennial without a family.


[00:04:13.570] - Bill Newman

That pretext has gone away and that pretense doesn't make any sense anymore. We'll get into a couple of other things around workforce hiring and some of the things that are emerging around diversity and equality and inclusion or dei, which I think is very interesting as we do our look ahead. But those are some of the main and plain changes that we've seen since you and I were together, I think over a year ago.


[00:04:44.490] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Yeah, for sure. I think Bill and thanks for getting into like the nittygritty of what's going on and what we are seeing in this 2022 versus during the Pandemic. I think one of the things that was really stood out, especially for younger workforce, they find this as a new normal. And that has definitely put a lot of pressure on organizations to look at this as a going forward approach also right. In terms of how they should be operating, not just now coming out of the Pandemic, but in the long run, how should they be structured and what should be the criteria for the employees to be attracted to an organization or to associate with them. Right. In that fashion, I think it's safe.


[00:05:35.780] - Bill Newman

To say that geography has very little correlation to where we work and what we do anymore. And that is a huge game changer.


[00:05:44.190] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Yeah, for sure. That kind of takes me to looking ahead. So let's fast forward to 2023. What do you think organizations should be looking at and employees at the same time, right? What should be their focus as far as moving ahead in 2023?


[00:06:07.190] - Bill Newman

Well, I think on the topic of workforce planning, for sure, and I'll look at this through a manufacturing lens. So, you know, you and I are both manufacturing experts, so let's kind of stay in our base camp for the moment. There's going to be a significant amount of hiring that's still going to continue just because we decide to keep interest rates high. That's not going to take away the need from having people with both skilled trades as well as higher education, engineering especially, to come in and really contribute. So those talents will remain and will become very competitive across different kinds of manufacturing as well as non-manufacturing segments. So, again, remember, we took geography out of the equation. So you and I are today recording. We're both in Michigan. Tomorrow we could be looking at bringing somebody on board to our projects that could be in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Florida and Georgia. Doesn't matter. We're all going to be enabled to come together. So I think that this idea of, again, where you work and where you live is now disassociated. And what that does is it creates a lot of competitiveness across industries and across industry sectors.


[00:07:36.870] - Bill Newman

So how we interview, I'm a big brand, you want to come and work for me? Maybe I'm not really interested in going through eight to ten interview cycles with you anymore. Maybe I can find a good job, a good next step in my career without having to make that kind of commitment that you expected to come work for a brand name company before the pandemic. So being able to get to figure out for employers, being able to figure out what's the talent we need, what does that skill mix look like, what's my preferred ratio of being in office or being remote? Does the position require being face to face? And if so, how much, how much virtualization can be needed, is needed to be successful? All of that you got to figure out ahead of time and then really compress the onboarding and hiring process. So that's for sure going to be a real challenge, particularly in this talent shortage and manufacturing, again, staying kind of our base camp. I think the other thing to look at and we'll lead into this topic around DEI, it's really in the mainstream now. So I'm going to refer to the recently published Original Equipment Supplier Association OESA study that was completed with Acadia just in December of 2022.


[00:09:09.790] - Bill Newman

It really spoke strongly and without going too deep into the report, just kind of give a couple of points. That over 60% of companies now in the automotive supplier space. So again, kind of stay in niche into one of our home bases here have active dei programs and of those, 60 plus percent are showing improvements or acceleration in those programs. And I'm really not just talking about making sure that you have a diverse workforce from a cultural or race or a gender perspective. It's actually also extending to socioeconomic background kind of in terms of culturally where your country of origin might be from, and also making sure that those DEI elements not only apply to new talent acquisition, but also to high potential programs to work shift opportunities. So if you did want to take a different shift in your skilled trade, maybe having that balance across for second and maybe even third shifts is important as well as in the boardroom. So you're not just going to see it at the front end and the back end of the career management process. You're going to see it all across the different elements of an employee journey, throughout the organization.


[00:10:35.470] - Bill Newman

And again, while manufacturing is going to be significantly short on effective and productive talent, you're going to see a real lean into that to keep those people happy, to keep them motivated and to keep them performing at very high levels with very high intrinsic value, for sure.


[00:10:56.900] - Mustansir Saifuddin

I think you mentioned about DEI and what role is being playing and how quickly it is getting integrated into the new normal. Right. That's amazing. With that being said, let's take a little detail over here on a personal note. I know you always have a pulse on what is going on in the industry. How are you able to do that?


[00:11:23.370] - Bill Newman

Well, I think it comes from a lot of years and knowing a lot of people and having done a lot of different things. I really do enjoy learning. I'm a naturally curious individual. I also enjoy meeting new people and hearing their perspective, particularly some of the lessons learned in the personal experiences coming out of the pandemic. I think we have a lot to offer each other and I think that just being able to be part of that conversation and maybe not contribute into the conversation as much as well as listening in and taking ideas away from the conversation, but certainly trying to frame a balance of that. And I think also, too, it's very interesting as the parent of Millennials now that the millennials are essentially running the workplace now. They're the largest generation in the workforce now by numbers. It's very interesting for me to see how the nature of business is changing now that essentially my kids generation are running business here, at least in North America. So I find that particularly interesting and in some cases highly entertaining.


[00:12:47.650] - Mustansir Saifuddin

I can totally relate to that. It's just different dynamics, right? That's for sure.


[00:12:53.750] - Bill Newman

Yeah, 100%. You know, things are things are very, very different and the different expectations that come with shaping those different generational life journeys is pretty interesting to watch.


[00:13:08.010] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Yeah. And I think that in a good way, it's happening and it's happening fairly, I would say at a very fast pace the way it's happening. But now looking back, like, let's do it from an organization's point of view, right. What's your take on how SAP is helping retool the workforce to make it easier for people to jump into it? What have you observed?


[00:13:39.170] - Bill Newman

Well, there are some things certainly that we can offer our customers that can make it a lot easier for them to manage their employee journey. So I think listeners are probably familiar with the fact that SAP has a special relationship with Qualtrics. Qualtrics does a lot of work around employee relationship and being able to kind of do those pulse surveys. And we did use those pulse surveys very significantly across a lot of industries during the pandemic. They were incredibly useful just to kind of keep a sense, particularly when we weren't together at all, to be able to keep a sense on where everybody was. The so called pulse check, I think also too that from a human experience management or human HR relationship type of perspective. We've always had tools to help with the onboarding and also the career management of employees. I just think that those are going to gain a higher level of importance, particularly as skilled trade and experienced talent particularly is harder to find and is harder to keep and as the demand grows. I think from a knowledge and community sharing, SAP has been very forward with online learning platforms such as Open SAP.


[00:15:13.970] - Bill Newman

So lots of education, a lot of content, a lot of knowledge available to go in and learn basically available for at free of charge in many cases. So just one zone time. And I think based on some of the experiences Mustansir that you and I have had within the user groups, is a very vibrant community within the user base, that allows for not only personal networking, but also for experiential learning as well as story sharing and other really great learning vehicles like that. So we're trying to do our best particularly inside of key industries and localized geographies where people may not be working but where they are resident. And I think that that will continue and become even more important in the coming years.


[00:16:07.350] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Yeah, I think you mentioned about SAP's role. I think I likely when throwing you mentioned about user groups and America's SAP User Group (ASUG) I will call them out on this and they have done a great job in kind of mixing in with the the new normal. How things are happening in 2022 after the Pandemic and having that virtual/in-person events, trying to meet up with the demands after the Pandemic, how things are moving forward and what are people looking at as far as learning and meeting up with each other, as well as collaboration. So I think we have a mixed bag of all the platforms that are currently available to the business community are coming along and moving into the direction that makes it much easier for organizations to manage how they are managing their workforce and especially this trend. Will we'll see how 2023 brings to the forefront in terms of what we have seen in 2022 and what is going to be a long term effect on how workforce planning goes in general right now, from an organizational point of view? So that being said, I know this was one thing that I always ask my guest what is that one takeaway that you want to share with our listeners and they should leave with that in this session?


[00:17:58.970] - Bill Newman

Well, kind of going back to trying to have a state of natural curiosity, I think listeners can always keep in mind or maybe take with them the fact that we can always learn something from one another. And you may have a highly pedigreed career over decades, but bringing a set of fresh eyes with a different perspective can be really kind of that spark moment that you need to either solve a critical business problem or really just find something intrinsic in your own personal growth journey. Doesn't matter what your age are or who you are, we all have that need, and I think being able to contribute and help shape each other and being open, I think that's really also another key. Being open to those messages when they come in will all make us much better people and make our businesses operate much more productively and efficiently, for sure.


[00:19:09.570] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Great advice. Thank you so much. This has been a great session with you, Bill, as always. Thank you and I look forward to talking with you in our next podcast.


[00:19:21.810] - Bill Newman

Sounds great. Look forward to it. Thanks for having me on.


[00:19:27.750] - Mustansir Saifuddin

Thanks for listening to Tech-Driven Business business brought to you by Innovative Solution Partners. Bill provided valuable insights on how workforce planning has changed over the last couple of years. His main takeaway? We can always learn from one another. Bringing a fresh set of ideas with a different perspective can be the spark movement you need to solve a business problem or for your own personal growth. We would love to hear from you. Continue the conversation by connecting with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Learn more about Innovative Solution Partners and schedule a free consultation by visiting Isolutionpartners.com. Never miss a podcast by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Information is in the show notes.


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