Leaders from Walmart, Clarins UK and ServiceNow discuss how to unlock human potential at work (2023)

Leaders from Walmart, Clarins UK and ServiceNow discuss how to unlock human potential at work (1)

Enterprise technology is evolving at a rapid rate. As our digital landscape at work changes, it can be hard to build strategies that stick and keep people at the heart of all business decisions.

So, how can we use technology to unlock the human potential in our workforce?

At Flow, Workplace’s first global leadership summit, we invited senior leaders from Walmart, Clarins UK and ServiceNow to share their insight and secrets to keeping people front and centre. Joe Park, Vice President of Associate Digital Experience & Enterprise Architecture at Walmart, Emilie Maunoury, Chief Digital Officer at Clarins UK, and Pat Wadors, CHRO at ServiceNow, joined Workplace Director of Product Marketing, Christine Overby, to discuss a future led by people, and fueled by technology.

Christine Overby: I’d like to welcome the panelists to the stage who are going to be talking about putting People over Pixels.

When we were talking backstage before the panel, I think a few of you had asked questions about what the panel title — People over Pixels — really means, so I think we’ll start there. If each of you could please introduce yourself and where you’re from, and talk a little bit about your role. Also in your introduction, please talk about what it means to be people-led while also tech-enabled. Emily, let’s start with you.

Emilie Maunoury: Hi, my name’s Emilie Maunoury, and I run everything digital for Clarins UK, and I’ve been in the group for eight years. First, in the HQ in Paris — I’m French and now living in London. So for me, being people-led is making sure that you answer the primary use case: What is it that you’re trying to fix, and then, how can tech enable this?

“For me, being people-led is making sure that you answer the primary use case: What is it that you’re trying to fix, and then, how can tech enable this?” — Emilie Maunoury, Chief Digital Officer, Clarins UK

CO: What is the primary use case?

EM: Our primary use case — what we brought Workplace in as the tech for — is how can we connect to the frontline? How can we be connected to the beauty advisors in store, which represent 90% of our workforce in the UK? They don’t have email and they don’t have a work phone or a computer, so how can we be connected to them?

CO: Right, we’re definitely going to pick up on that in a moment. Joe?

Joe Park: Good afternoon everyone, I’m Joe Park, and I’m with Walmart. I lead what we call the Associate Digital Experience, and it’s really all the associate-facing enterprise technology that we use to serve our 2.3 million associates across the world. One thing about the ‘people are tech-empowered’ point — well, it’s funny because that’s a term our CEO uses a lot. For us at Walmart, it means embracing technology fully to empower associates to better serve customers with a human touch — this helps us retain that.

Pat Wadors: Hi, I’m Pat Wadors, I am a mother, a sister, and a daughter. I’m an introvert, and I happen to run HR for ServiceNow. I love what I get to do; it’s my passion and my purpose to help people realize their potential in a people-led organization, and technology is about keeping you at the center of it. It’s what enables you to achieve your potential, your joy while at work — to achieve your greatest work ever.

“It’s my passion and my purpose to help people realize their potential in a people-led organization, and technology is about keeping you at the center of it. It’s what enables you to achieve your potential, your joy while at work — to achieve your greatest work ever.” — Pat Wadors, CHRO, ServiceNow

CO: Excellent, well let’s get started. Joe, I’m going to pick on you first; you’re the Chief Digital Architect of the world’s largest company. So, you get to see tonnes of new technology, right?

JP: Yep.

CO: So, when you’re looking at a lot of bright and shiny new objects, how do you keep people at the centre of these technology choices?

Leaders from Walmart, Clarins UK and ServiceNow discuss how to unlock human potential at work (2)

JP: It’s tempting. There’s a lot of great technologies out there today, but if you lose sight of what it means to actually use it and what it takes — it won’t work. So, when you think about retail, it’s transforming quite a bit. When we at Walmart think about the skills that are going to be needed in the future, it comes down to digital literacy, having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner, problem-solving and customer service. Without focusing on those things, you’re probably not going to be able to figure out the technology piece. So, for us, that means providing opportunities for all 2.3 million associates to be able to develop those skills, and what Walmart does is provide significant funding and investment for education and training.

A couple of examples that come to mind would be, in 2016 we launched our training academy, which is a two-week immersive course to teach our associates really advanced retail and technology skills. That ranges from the hourly associate who has just joined the company, all the way to the store managers. For us, to date, the results have been great. We’ve got 200 of them across the nation — all pretty accessible. And we have 500,000 graduates to date. For us, that’s huge. In many ways for the associates, our people, it’s the first time they’ve ever had a cap and gown in their lives. After the two-week training, they can bring their families with them to celebrate that. A virtual trophy doesn’t match the people side of that experience. The second example that comes to mind is, we had a really good experience partnering with Guild Education to provide accessibility to the associates. For a dollar a day they worked their way towards a college degree, two-year associates or a four-year bachelor. At Walmart, we’re going to use technology to compete, but our associates are going to be what help us win.

“At Walmart, we’re going to use technology to compete, but our associates are going to be what help us win.” — Joe Park, VP, Walmart

CO: Pat, I want to ask you a question that’s similar. You talk a lot about using the customer journey and the customer experience and turning that inward to look at the employee experience. Maybe you could talk a little bit about how you embed technology as part of that employee journey, as part of the employee experience — we’d love to hear more about what you guys are doing?

PW: Sure. When you think about the employee experience, it’s holistic. It starts off with your business, the culture — what’s your employee value proposition that you’re trying to create for your employee base? And then it’s manifested and supported through the systems and tools we provide to our employees. Then it’s reinforced through the environment in which they work — so the physical and the digital as well. If you take as much effort in defining what that employee journey is — from courting you, so you fall in love with my company and the opportunity — to when I onboard you and you know you’re the most important thing for me that day — to those moments that matter when you transition along your career path at my company — to realizing your potential and your dreams — technology is the underpinning of all of that. If you take that same energy you would for customer support to your employees — magic happens.

“When you think about the employee experience, it’s holistic. It starts off with your business, the culture — what’s your employee value proposition that you’re trying to create for your employee base? And then it’s manifested and supported through the systems and tools we provide to our employees. Then it’s reinforced through the environment in which they work… If you take that same energy you would for customer support to your employees — magic happens.” — Pat Wadors, CHRO, ServiceNow

You craft your architecture, and you look at your tools. You look at the signals that you’re trying to capture, and you see if your engagement is up. I partner very closely with our CIO and our product team and finance and facilities, and say, ‘These are the moments that matter as you go through your journey. These are the tools that you’ll interact with. At the heart of that whole exchange, of that journey, is how I want you to feel.’ That’s what I measure. I want you to feel the excitement, I want you to feel engaged. I want you to feel a sense of belonging. I want you to feel a sense of accomplishment when you get promoted. Every first-time manager is a rubbish manager — we all suck. So, how do you take that moment and make it a beautiful moment so they feel confident, they feel supported with tools and training and insights? Feedback is a great gift. Technology enables employees to be a better version of themselves.

“Technology enables employees to be a better version of themselves.” — Pat Wadors, CHRO, ServiceNow

CO: Do those become your metrics, those moments?

PW: Yes. So, Chris Bedi — our CIO — laughs because we’ve only been working together a year now and he goes ‘Pat, I think of downtime and time-to-fill and cost and efficiency metrics, and you talk about a beautiful process, the engagement, and smiles.’ And I tell him that that’s the energy that I want the employee to feel. I want the smiley, I want the thumbs-up, I want the employee engagement to give me a signal of their emotional energy. That’s the magic for me.

Leaders from Walmart, Clarins UK and ServiceNow discuss how to unlock human potential at work (3)

CO: That’s very cool. So, all of you have frontline employees in some way; sometimes it’s the store associates and sometimes it’s your remote employees. Emilie, can we start with you and talk a little bit about the work that you’ve been doing at Clarins UK to connect the frontline with the office and how that has benefited the brand?

EM: The initial idea was, how can we create two-way communication? How can we be in contact with the frontline, not just by sending them a printed mailer to store? And maybe hearing from their business manager who talks to the area manager, who talks to the commercial director? And having those silos broken, and making sure that communication is actually direct. It went well — it’s magic. The Workplace effect has been incredible. 2,000 employees in the UK and I’d say that 90% are not office based — and we have 87% engagement. 82% connect weekly, posting, liking, commenting. We’ve given them a voice and they have jumped on it. Absolutely jumped on it.

“The Workplace effect has been incredible. 2,000 employees in the UK and I’d say that 90% are not office based — and we have 87% engagement. 82% connect weekly, posting, liking, commenting. We’ve given them a voice and they have jumped on it. Absolutely jumped on it.” — Emilie Maunoury, Chief Digital Officer, Clarins UK

Initially, I really thought — well, the business case was, we’re going to talk to them and they’re going to talk to us. Actually, what has been much bigger than anticipated is the peer-to-peer connection. We’ve got some accounts all across the UK, in all of the department stores and some are single accounts. So, you’ve got one beauty advisor, on her own and she sees the area manager once a month. Now, she is sharing what she does and she is sharing what someone does in Brighton and Manchester, and they feel part of a community. We thought the community already existed but actually, it didn’t. It’s been win-win all over for us.

“What has been much bigger than anticipated is the peer-to-peer connection… You’ve got one beauty advisor, on her own and she sees the area manager once a month. Now, she is sharing what she does and she is sharing what someone does in Brighton and Manchester, and they feel part of a community. We thought the community already existed but actually, it didn’t. It’s been win-win all over for us.” — Emilie Maunoury, Chief Digital Officer, Clarins UK

CO: Did you sense that at all? Or was that just like a happy accident that you saw?

EM: I think that we became more focused on answering the need because we did an engagement survey 18 months ago and it transpired that they felt disconnected from the head office. So, that’s what we tried to fix by launching Workplace. We didn’t anticipate the peer-to-peer option.

CO: I’d like to stay on this for a minute, because this is the type of magic that we love to hear about. Can you talk a bit about how that’s quantified or how that’s measured? How do you look at the business value of that?

EM: The impact? Well, it’s still early days. We launched five months ago but we’ve seen, and I’ll caveat this figure, we’ve seen a reduction in employee turnover by 4-points since we launched Workplace. But I’ll caveat that with the retail situation in the U.K. If you’re not familiar, House of Fraser has been bought, Debenhams is having some difficulties, so most of our big retailers are in a difficult position, so this could also explain that figure, but I believe not to the full extent of the 4-points. People want to hold onto their jobs. Honestly, before I came to Flow today I posted on Workplace, ‘Guys, I’m going to San Francisco, I’m going to see the Workplace team — what should I tell them? Do we like it or don’t we? Just tell me, thumbs up or thumbs down, what do you think?’ I’ve had so many comments saying that they love it and it’s changed their lives. That they’re addicted to it — someone said that they now use Workplace more than they do Facebook. Whenever Debbie Lewis likes or comments their post it makes their month. There’s something really magical about it. We feared that the engagement would drop — you know when everything goes too well — we thought, how long is this going to last? But every week it goes up.

“Before I came to Flow today I posted on Workplace, ‘Guys, I’m going to San Francisco, I’m going to see the Workplace team — what should I tell them? Do we like it or don’t we? Just tell me, thumbs up or thumbs down, what do you think?’ I’ve had so many comments saying that they love it and it’s changed their lives. That they’re addicted to it — someone said that they now use Workplace more than they do Facebook… There’s something really magical about it.” — Emilie Maunoury, Chief Digital Officer, Clarins UK

CO: Joe, maybe we can pick up a little bit with the observations that you have? The difference in building culture, because you’re doing it both in the offices as well as in some of the Sam’s Clubs, can you talk a little bit about that difference of building culture out in the field?

JP: Sure. When it comes to culture, whether you’re in the field or the office, listening has always been a big part. It goes all the way back to our first stores with our founder, Sam Walton — he’d go from store to store to store, take a yellow notepad and jot down ideas from any associate he could. And occasionally from competitors. Today, we have 2.3 million associates and five generations of workers in the office or in the field — so that’s not scalable. In fact, I’d argue that without technology, you can’t get feedback and the listening that we’re so proud to have as part of our culture. So, for us, it’s pretty practical.

“Today, we have 2.3 million associates and five generations of workers in the office or in the field — so that’s not scalable. In fact, I’d argue that without technology, you can’t get feedback and the listening that we’re so proud to have as part of our culture.” — Joe Park, VP, Walmart

What we’re trying to do, whether it’s in the field or with the knowledge workers, it comes down to leveraging product management practices, treating our associates like a customer, collecting feedback and using research. When you put all of that together, Workplace, the product decision to use it for the enterprise, was because when you take a look at all the technologies that you could pick from and even the playing field, whether it’s generational, location-based — you name it — we could spend so much time going through change-management, the training, the customizations, but when it comes down to it, Workplace for us gave us a common platform, a common language. Facebook invested 15+ years’ into R&D and did it for free for us, and we get to selfishly turn it on and all five generations know how to use it. For us, we spent more time, liking and loving, crying and laughing, versus saying “I don’t know how to use it. It’s a barrier.” For us, that’s been terrific.

“When it comes down to it, Workplace for us gave us a common platform, a common language… For us, we spent more time, liking and loving, crying and laughing, versus saying “I don’t know how to use it. It’s a barrier.” For us, that’s been terrific.” — Joe Park, VP, Walmart

CO: That familiarity across five generations, that’s pretty powerful. Pat, if we could talk a little bit about what you’re doing to use technology to build culture — because you have a lot of remote workers who are on their own. Can you share more about that?

PW: So, one of the challenges that we had as we were scaling was to bring their voices into the organization, so they felt they belonged. And that was amazing. Our CEO and some of the executive team went out and did a purpose tour this past spring. They launched a new brand for the company — what our purpose is and what our vision is as an organization — and we got to meet a bunch of amazing employees. What we kept hearing was the remote worker and their voice. So, we had already launched Workplace, we call it Now at Work, and we’re starting to gain some traction in the workplace with that. But what we started realizing was that the magic happened when we did live events. You have people around the world dialing into the events and engaging with them. My ‘ah-ha’ moment was in the spring after we did this tour, I did a ‘Lunch and Learn’ event for our employees where we were talking about diversity, inclusion, belonging and trying to educate — there were about 100 people in the room. I felt good about 100 people, it’s a great size. And then online there were about 60 — I was like 160? Score!

“What we started realizing was that the magic happened when we did live events. You have people around the world dialing into the events and engaging with them.” — Pat Wadors, CHRO, ServiceNow

And so I was confident, I was rolling and engaging, we had conversations going on on Now at Work and the conversations kept going, and then there was even more engagement and I thought, ‘This is an amazing moment.’ At the end of the event, they were like, ‘That was incredible, we had over 600 people live and they were dialoguing.” We did some peer-to-peer conversation with questions about their story, about when they had a belonging moment and what was happening was their peers were engaging on this live platform and sharing very personal stories about their feelings and their moments. Those stories ended up teeing-up other conversations and other levels of awareness for managers and individual contributors. So, the online live audience actually got way more value than the folks that were actually in the room. My head almost blew — I thought that’s an incredible tool that I’ve never before had the advantage of in my career.

Leaders from Walmart, Clarins UK and ServiceNow discuss how to unlock human potential at work (4)

CO: What’s interesting is both of you have now told me peer-to-peer stories and it wasn’t the primary use case going in, right? It was serendipity that you observed. Maybe we can stay with you, Pat, for a moment and talk about your role itself. You’re the Chief Human Resource Officer, which isn’t typically a role that’s associated with technology. Can you talk a little bit about how your role itself is changing and what it means to be a modern CHRO now?

PW: So, for me, it is about crafting that unique employee experience. We’re here to help. My mission, wherever I work, is to build a high performing, healthy company that can scale and achieve its business goals. In order to do that and stay agile, you do need a growth mindset, but you need technology that serves the business needs. And you need to have a great line of sight into your talent. If you think of a company’s operational expense, on average, 80% is the cost of talent. Systems and tools are a part of that equation and if you think about that expense line item, you’ve got to make sure you see their engagement, and not just a periodic survey.

It’s about whether people are getting learning bites, are they engaged in the tools? Are you communicating and having it cascade and understood? With Now at Work, I can tell you if my engagement is really there in the moment. I can tell you if my leaders are downloading my PowerPoint and getting the information on change management about the changes that we’re rolling out. I can capture the questions and create knowledge bites that serve them around the world. That is powerful stuff. For me, technology enables a healthy company, it’s a way to anticipate needs. You get signals in an organization and for me, it’s my health heat map, and technology helps me hunt for that heat map. I don’t know how I would do my job without it.

“With Now at Work [Workplace], I can tell you if my engagement is really there in the moment. I can tell you if my leaders are downloading my PowerPoint and getting the information on change management about the changes that we’re rolling out. I can capture the questions and create knowledge bites that serve them around the world. That is powerful stuff.” — Pat Wadors, CHRO, ServiceNow

CO: You use the term change management, maybe we can pick up a little bit on that. How much change management have you had to do with moving people from just using traditional tools like email, into more of these networked, connected tools like Workplace?

PW: So, I think as described earlier, Facebook is so known that it wasn’t like training on the tool, it was training on the behavior mindset. Shifting people away from an email, or this is how you use Slack and this is what email’s use case is for, and this is how you have a hallway conversation from your device, even — how do you communicate in an organization? What we discovered early is that we would do communication from the CEO about all-hands or the quarterly results, and not put any information in email. We’d just flow them into Now at Work — if you wanna know how your company is doing, go there. So, we started training the organization so they knew the real knowledge, the real information, the celebration of products, sales, customers and employees, happens on Now at Work. So, there’s a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), and if you want to know what’s going on, then go there. Now we don’t have to do as many teasers. Then there are the important notices — so if I am leading the charge, I can make sure that it gets top ranking and say, ‘You need to pay attention, please open, please go here.’

“What we discovered early is that we would do communication from the CEO about all-hands or the quarterly results, and not put any information in email. We’d just flow them into Now at Work [Workplace] — if you wanna know how your company is doing, go there.” — Pat Wadors, CHRO, ServiceNow

CO: Joe, so you were talking about the five generations that are using Workplace at Walmart — that are using these tools. Do you have a favorite story from any of the five using the tool?

JP: It does span generations and if I think about what’s come out of Workplace, my favorite is when new associates come in and are able to see the history and the evolution of the groups that we have, the organizations that we have — that persistent memory helps them feel a part of the culture from Day One. That’s a really neat thing to see. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got our tenure associates, the people who have been there for 25 and 30 years and when they go on Workplace and share their expertise, being able to see who’s in the organization and welcome them, it happens every day so I can’t really point to one story. That’s a great thing and for us, it has become the norm that it’s lost its novelty, so for us, that’s when we know the platform is working when it’s not a one-off win, but rather an everyday occurrence.

“If I think about what’s come out of Workplace, my favorite is when new associates come in and are able to see the history and the evolution of the groups that we have, the organizations that we have — that persistent memory helps them feel a part of the culture from Day One.” — Joe Park, VP, Walmart

CO: It’s the cumulative effect.

JP: Right.

Leaders from Walmart, Clarins UK and ServiceNow discuss how to unlock human potential at work (5)

CO: That’s great. Emilie, maybe we can talk a little bit about how you make sure that the people are influencing the technology choices that you make, as opposed to the technology driving people’s behavior.

EM: Again, back to the use case. How can we make people’s life easier? I think that’s the basic. Having worked at the headquarters before and having to use the technology that we had, to then try to make sense of it is not the way it works anymore. So, what do we need to achieve, and then what is the technology that will help do that?

For instance, with Workplace, we really want to make it the hub of everything for everyone so that if anyone has a question, they can just go to Workplace and find the answer there. The hub for any policies that they might need to find and the hub for any orders that they might need to do — Workplace is the place to be. I think with all the connections that Workplace is trying to do with the partners, it might end up being a reality. Again, it is what is easy to use, and it’s successful because everyone knows how to use Facebook, so everyone straight away knew how to use Workplace. It’s a no-brainer. The ones that we kind of forced a bit, you cut the other pieces of information, you make sure that this is the place to go to look for information and then it becomes a reflex.

“It is what is easy to use, and it’s successful because everyone knows how to use Facebook, so everyone straight away knew how to use Workplace. It’s a no-brainer.” — Emilie Maunoury, Chief Digital Officer, Clarins UK

CO: I’d like to hear, and this question is for any of you and all of you — you’re using the tool right now to connect people and there’s a lot of communication use cases that I’m hearing. What would be the next thing that you’d want to get into from there?

EM: I can start. We’ve started with our beauty advisers and our front line, I’d like next to really focus on the head office and how we use Workplace to work better together, which in most companies, I know they start with this but we left it until the end. So that’s how I’d drive it forward.

CO: So you’ve kind of come from the outside, in.

JP: On the technology side at Walmart, because of the volume of associates that we have, we took a look at our data and saw that on a yearly basis we have hundreds of thousands of requests for help. Whether it’s technology help or HR help, that’s a really transactional thing. What we’ve done at Walmart is we’ve launched a chatbot for technology services and for HR services and that’s really made an improvement. I wouldn’t give all the credit to the platform, but we’ve seen a 60% drop in informational requests. We’ve created product management pages or groups and we’re crowd-sourcing all the help. I could try and hire thousands of people to help answer questions and help our associates to have a better experience, but instead, we’re finding non-technology associates answer each other’s questions for pages dedicated to Workplace or Zoom or other products. So for us, it’s beyond communication, it’s actually helping us solve problems.

“We took a look at our data and saw that on a yearly basis we have hundreds of thousands of requests for help… We’ve launched a chatbot for technology services and for HR services and that’s really made an improvement. I wouldn’t give all the credit to the platform, but we’ve seen a 60% drop in informational requests.” — Joe Park, VP, Walmart

CO: Do you have a name for the chatbot?

JP: We do. But it’s in beta right now.

CO: Haha, TBC. Pat?

PW: I was just going to say similar things about the crowd-sourcing. I think that was the unintended ‘ah-ha’ for me was the ability to share knowledge, the ability to connect the dots, the ability to create this tightly woven fabric. Because if you’re growing so fast, creating a sense of community and there are people out there who are willing to help me that have been there and done that and shared their stories, so I can learn from your mistakes and your achievements, and I can help you be great at X. That to me is the magic. How do you find those magic moments? How do you codify them and share them? How do you make sure they don’t get lost? I think that opportunity is right here.

CO: Excellent. You have all been amazing. That you so much for this diverse panel, so wonderful to have business, IT and HR together here, we really appreciate it. That you so much for your time.

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