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Benefits of keeping the right focus when merging companies

Trond Vinje has experienced an extraordinary first year as Head of HR in TietoEVRY. Read his story about the challenges he had to deal with in 2020.

Trond Vinje / February 11, 2021
Digital HR Insights Community

The unpredictability that came with Covid-19 created an additional challenge for my first year as Head of HR in TietoEVRY. Now, at the beginning of 2021, I would like to reflect and share some of my learnings and visions.

I must admit that it is astonishing to get first-hand experience of the complexity of merging two large Nordic companies such as Tieto and EVRY. We came from two different worlds from both the process and the system perspective, and we started 2020 with hundreds or thousands of different practices that we wanted to align.

Merging two worlds is not only about the consolidation of systems

My main learnings are related to the importance of addressing the “hearts and minds”. Creating synergy comes from combining the technical elements and competitive side of things with the culture, leadership, diversity, and values. All of these sides need to be addressed equally. We can have the best processes and systems, but without starting to build one way of thinking, one way of collaborating and common culture, we cannot be successful.

One of the smartest moves we did last year from the perspective of HR, was to focus on establishing one source of data. Consolidation into one HR master system, which is Workday in our context, is a crucial driver for all the other harmonization. Change is always difficult and it takes a lot of time. What gives me energy are the positive sides of the integration, such as seeing more and more engagement between colleagues across TietoEVRY; especially given the complicated circumstances.

How we as HR can help our customers? Focus on creating employee efficiency and employee engagement

My most positive surprise of 2020 had nothing to do with the integration, but how fast and efficiently we were able to adapt to operating in the new normal. The reports show that we have not dropped in efficiency, which is a great result especially considering the practical difficulties of working from home. I was even more impressed by how swiftly we were able to help our customers adapt to remote work. It was fantastic to get insight on how important our services and products are in customers´ operations.

When thinking about the future setup for 2021 and beyond I am concentrating on being data-driven. Any plans around the “back to the office” topic need to focus on the employees´ and the customers´ needs and be based on data instead of beliefs. As HR professionals, we need to understand the business logic that drives the company. In TietoEVRY, we provide customers with technology that in some way helps them to be more competitive.

The role of HR is to make it easier to be an employee. To enable our employees to take care of our customers, we need to create employee efficiency and employee engagement. Even if you do a very specific job in the HR area, you should be able to translate your contribution into the bigger context. I strongly believe that it is also more fun when you see the big picture and how your work helps employees and customers to thrive.

Making system design decisions? Keep people in mind

From the technical perspective, last year, we focused on building a system that enables us to make company-wide data-driven people management decisions. We could have possibly utilized a combination of integrations, stand-alone analytics software and the “most famous” HR tool in the world – Excel. Instead, we have decided to focus on a single HCM solution and our learning is that having one source of data has been the key driver to harmonization during our merge. The speed was important, and we are lucky to have our own team of Workday consultants who enabled Tieto and EVRY to join forces with an accelerated project taking just a few months.

The clear benefit is that with Workday I have global data immediately available from anywhere and am able to analyze this data at all times via a big portfolio of pre-defined reports. When making design decisions about the HR-related tools, the other important perspective to consider is that the best system in the world does not bring value unless people feel it makes their life easier. Therefore, we put an emphasis on automation, accessibility, and self-service for managers and employees. I believe that the right focus is on how to make life easier for employees instead of how to make HR more efficient. For me, the DNA of every HR function is in driving employee engagement and efficiency, which at the end will result in customer benefit.

How can we develop company culture in the times of Covid-19?

The unpredictability that came with Covid-19 created an additional challenge for the merge of Tieto and EVRY. There is a standard perception that if you are not able to have physical meetings, the culture pays the price. Due to the circumstances of 2020 we had to cancel our integration roadshow and we had to compensate with digital communication. We still have a lot to learn about the right ways to handle communication, but we strongly acknowledge that the top-down approach would not have worked.

Developing common ways of working and innovating is not about having executives giving instructions. Instead, it is about having thousands of dialogues across 1300 different teams in TietoEVRY. We have done some really good groundwork. I am very happy to recognize that the majority of people (based on our employee satisfaction survey) know about our culture, values and insight into what´s demanded from the leadership. The magic happens when everyone translates this into what is relevant for their teams and for themselves as individuals.

We will keep investing time and engaging different stakeholders to develop the definition of our culture and the definition of good leadership in TietoEVRY. We also need to keep transparency towards the customers. I strongly believe that our Nordic values of trust, diversity, and openness have to be visible to our customers.

Let us make 2021 the year of growth and development

When looking back to 2020 as the year of integration, I'm really looking forward for myself, colleagues from the HR and the company as a whole to have a strong growth and development agenda for 2021.

This year I want to learn some new skills, but I also love being in a leadership position providing development for other people. I want us to stay as a company where people turn to, to learn and have good careers, where employees embrace development and use their capabilities to innovate. We aim not only to be a service provider but to be a good partner to our clients. As Covid-19 reminds us, customer proximity is not only physical, but also mainly about the mindset. For 2021 and beyond, my colleagues and I in HR will do our best to keep colleagues across TietoEVRY engaged, efficient, and happy, so they can focus on supporting our customers’ requirements.

Trond Vinje
Head of HR

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Trond Vinje

Head of HR

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