Established in 1928 by Henri Essers, H.Essers has grown substantially over the years, via both autonomous growth and a number of strategic acquisitions. Its aim is to become THE global reference in its strategic markets, namely pharmaceuticals, chemicals, infrastructure and parts. H.Essers was responsible for the European distribution of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in 2020/2021.
For the immediate future, the firm’s predominantly focusing on the European market. Today, it has more than 6,600 employees spread across 19 countries in Western and Eastern Europe.
That spread can make it challenging to get a clear picture of its human resources (HR) footprint and assure it’s being managed in the most effective way. “To be able to continue to grow and achieve our ambitions, we really need one single HR database, one single HR reporting tool, as far as possible one single recruitment process and so on, rather than each location having its own payroll, procedures, time and attendance recording processes, etc.” explains Mike Dautzenberg, Chief Human Resources Officer, H.Essers. “With one tool, it’ll also be much easier to integrate acquisitions,” he adds, That’s especially true when it comes to different titles or roles.
“I feel that everytime we approach a new element within the system, PwC has an expert on it who can help guide us.”
To give it that big picture of HR, H.Essers opted to implement Workday human capital management software. “For two years, we looked around the market to find the right solution. Our organisation’s very complex and we needed a tool that all our employees could use, from blue collar up, whenever and from wherever, and that would provide the benefits we were looking for. We decided that Workday would best suit our needs,” Mike Dautzenberg says.
With one single HR platform, H.Essers will also be able to standardise working practices and procedures in all locations in which it operates and be able to put a global HR strategy in place. To help it implement the platform, H.Essers opted to work with PwC.
As to why H.Essers opted to work with PwC for this project, he notes, “PwC proved to be very down to earth. The PwC people demonstrate the same values as we have in H.Essers; they keep things simple and are very positive. They’re very entrepreneurial. They’re people we feel we can rely on. A plus point was that they’re based close to us and speak our language.” He went on to say that the two firms work together in partnership to find solutions; “we have a good, open relationship where communication is very clear. The team knows what’s important to us and we support each other in reaching our goals. They really go the extra mile to make sure we get where we want to be.”
In COVID-19 times, with physical meetings not possible, Mike Dautzenberg was impressed that they managed to keep the cooperation positive and implementation on track. “Despite PwC not being able to be on site as planned, the project progressed as planned, thanks to the good relationship we have and our ability to continue to cooperate, albeit remotely.”
Workday covers many aspects of human capital management and Mike Dautzenberg is impressed that PwC can offer a specialist on each topic: “I feel that everytime we approach a new element within the system, PwC has an expert on it who can help guide us on that specific area. On top of which, the team stays on top of deadlines and makes sure we make decisions that respect those deadlines.” That includes dealing with and helping resolve issues with third-party suppliers.
PwC’s global network also comes into play. One of the important modules of Workday for H.Essers is learning and development (L&D) as the firm needs to be able to track and report on required certifications. The PwC Network has already implemented the Workday L&D module for many clients and the Belgian team didn’t hesitate to reach out for support. “That we were able to call on global support, tailored to our own specific situation was invaluable,” Mike Dautzenberg says. And he goes on, “Workday gives our managers the insights into their people that they need to grow and develop their talent pools. Before, this was more based on instinct. With Workday, we’ve hard data to back it up.”
To date, PwC has helped H.Essers implement Workday for all master data of its core HR and L&D activities. “This was a massive challenge. At the beginning, much of the data to be input was either incomplete or out of date,” Mike Dautzenberg recalls.
With phase one complete, phase two involves the introduction of time and attendance recording, absence management, talent and performance management, recruitment, advanced compensation and expenses and more. Again, the module will go live in all countries at the same time.
But Mike Dautzenberg doesn’t expect the relationship with PwC to end there: “We plan to continue to grow via acquisition, which means continually introducing new people and teams to Workday. We expect PwC to be by our side to show us how to do this effectively and to continue to keep us up to date with evolutions to make sure we’re always getting the best out of our investment. PwC’s proven to be a true partner that can support us when we’ve questions and concerns - they simply put us in touch with the experts that can help.”
Eva De Vries
Director, PwC Belgium
Tel: +32 493 24 59 45
Ellen De Groote
Manager, PwC Belgium
Tel: +32 472 45 12 09