Growth & Customers

Childfund reimagines multinational workforce management with Sage people

This summer, we were inspired when the mission-driven nonprofit, ChildFund, selected Sage People to help its global HR and People team undergo a “transformation within a transformation.” Founded in 1938, the organization has been working tirelessly to connect children with what they need to grow up healthy, educated, skilled, and safe. ChildFund was one of the first proponents of the individual sponsorship model, and has grown rapidly over the last eight-plus decades. Last year alone, 350,000 sponsors helped the organization reach 13.6 million children and family members throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

The 1,000-employee strong nonprofit recently decided to centralize key functions like HR as part of its effort to increase efficiency and agility globally. In addition, it initiated a full-fledged digital transformation that made it crystal clear the HR and People team could no longer continue to run People operations in a disjointed, spreadsheet-reliant manner. We recently had a chance to sit down (virtually, of course) with ChildFund’s chief human resources officer, Scott Sherman, and director of global HR operations, Jessica Tyler, who explained the clear impact Sage People has made in just four months.

In our new case study, they describe key results such as:

  • Gaining global workforce visibility
  • Accelerating HR reports from 2-3 weeks to 15 minutes
  • Increasing recruiting efficiency by 20%
  • Achieving 90% employee adoption

Tyler, who’s been with ChildFund for 14 years, said that she had always dreamed of having a comprehensive global cloud HR system across the organization, but after a false start with a different product, that plan got put on the back-burner. However, when Sherman came on board as CHRO five years ago, he made it his mission to adopt a modern cloud HR system and rethink tedious business processes. “We evaluated several different options, including Workday, Ultipro, and Microsoft Dynamics 365,” remembers Tyler. “When it came down to what would work best for us and meet all of our requirements, we knew Sage People would support the many different languages we use and be easiest for our staff to adapt to.”

She also mentioned the hands-on approach of the Sage implementation team. “We really appreciated the time and effort that the Sage team put in to guide us in the right direction, make everything more effective, and streamline a lot of our workflows,” noted Tyler. “They did a great job leading us through the deployment and providing the support we needed to rethink how we were approaching different tasks.”

A successful transformation-within-a-transformation

Since going live with the system in July 2020 amid the global pandemic, user engagement has surpassed the HR and People team’s expectations. To prepare for the launch of “WeConnect” (ChildFund’s internal name for Sage People), they prepared training videos, quick guides, and leadership communication. Clearly these efforts paid off, since the organization has already reached 90% adoption despite some field staff having limited access to computers as a result of COVID-19. “I’m amazed at how well everyone has adopted Sage People, compared to the not-so-pleasant technology roll-outs we’ve had in the past,” shared Tyler. “Our executives are champions for the new system, which creates a domino effect. It’s been a sweet surprise to see how easy the self-service is and how encouraging our employees all are.”

Sage People especially helps with employee communications and engagement for a multinational workforce, which is even more vital during the pandemic. ChildFund employees can easily access and utilize WeConnect and continue their jobs working from home. Sherman said, “It lets us reinforce important information, whether it’s a new policy update, rebranding details from our chief digital marketing officer, or a program video about the online exploitation of children. Employees may not see these things when they’re buried in their email inbox, but if it’s out there on the WeConnect home page, they’ll notice.” Tyler added, “Employees love the self-service aspect. They like that they can log into WeConnect and see or update their own information, apply for a job, nominate staff members for positions, or submit recognition for fellow employees.”

This convenience factor extends to recruiting, new hire onboarding, and employee verification as well. “Our recruiting processes and records are all in one place now, and everyone follows the same steps. Before Sage People, there were a lot of emails going back and forth on approvals and salary offers, so it was very manual and inconsistent,” said Tyler. “Now, everyone knows where things are at, and hiring managers are kept in the loop from the very beginning. Plus, being able to share I-9s and other forms through Sage People is attractive to new people coming in, because they can see that we have a modern system in place versus the old way of asking them to just print off attachments and figure out how to fill them out.”

In addition, Sage People supports ChildFund’s newly retooled and standardized approach to continuous performance management. Sherman noted, “We just recently put our goals in and that went really well. I love that the system sends out reminders to make sure managers have their quarterly check-ins the way we designed them.” He added, “The next things we’re looking forward to are leveraging the system for our internal compensation and merit processes, our first-ever formal succession plan, and time and attendance. We can’t wait to see the additional benefits that we’re going to get out of Sage People.”

Unlocking valuable people analytics and visibility

Of course, one of the greatest benefits ChildFund points to is having end-to-end visibility into employee data across all 22 of the countries where it operates. For example, Sherman described a Sage People report he recently built to help with grant recruiting. “When we have an opening for a grant-funded project, we need a person in that seat before we can bill the client,” he explained. “So, when that clock starts ticking, we’ve got to be able to fill those jobs very quickly. My new report shows all the active grant-funded jobs we have, where they are, which levels, and how long they’ve been open. I’m using that information to build more rigor around filling those jobs, asking our directors where we are in the process and how we might be more proactive so that our teams can start doing the important work we’re funded to do.”

Tyler noted that Sage People reduces the amount of data requests coming in to the HR and People team, thanks to self-service capabilities and automated processes. “I personally used to get three to five requests a week for some type of information, and each one took me hours to explore,” she said. “But now, when we do get a request, Sage People cuts down the time that it takes us to respond by several hours.” This has contributed to a cultural shift for the organization overall. “Sage People is helping people to think differently and act differently, such as updating their information regularly,” commented Sherman. “That’s another piece in the puzzle to help us to transform what we do as we continue building on our organizational and digital strategies.”

Finally, he shared, “The area I’m really excited about exploring further with Sage People is around metrics and dashboards for our leadership teams in individual country offices, because they can get their own data and access it to help inform their decisions,” said Sherman. “As we free up more time, I’m very interested in looking deeper into trends surrounding our hiring and promotions for underrepresented groups, as well as doing a pay equity review of female versus male staff.”