How Inalfa Roof Systems Transformed HR to Support Global Growth

Dealing with rapid growth is the kind of problem most organizations want to have. But while an increase in sales is always cause for celebration, such growth also requires more resources to meet demand, including new talent and more efficient management of existing employees. For Inalfa Roof Systems, a global manufacturer of automotive sunroofs, a mixture of rapid growth and internal reorganization demanded a new approach to how it supports and grows its workforce.

In just a few years, the Netherlands-based company’s sales increased from €300 million to over €1.2 billion. In 2020, the business expects sales to surpass more than €2.2 billion. In 2011, Inalfa Roof Systems was acquired by China’s Beijing Automotive Parts Hainachuan, opening up access to the Asian car market.

“With the rapid growth of our employee base from 2,000 to 7,500, the recruitment and development of talent became a major challenge,” says Bas Eggelaar, senior HR director at Inalfa Roof Systems. “Our move into China saw revenues grow by almost half a billion euros due to the huge demand for panoramic sunroofs and the large Asian automotive market.”

Eggelaar adds that HR at Inalfa traditionally involved many manual administrative processes, and that needed to change. “At this stage, we can no longer afford any inefficiencies,” he says. “We’ve come from a world of one or two new product launches per year to 26 in China alone last year.”

A strategic approach to HR requires a shift away from spreadsheets and presentations to focus more on real-time consolidated data that is accessible across the entire organization.

Supporting Demand with Talent

Inalfa’s business is built on long-term contracts, and when a new car hits the market, the company must ensure it has the workforce in place to support product guarantees of up to seven years. Attracting and keeping such a strong talent pool is a major challenge. Inalfa had to consider relocating its operations to locations where competition for engineering and design talent was less fierce or rethink its approach to talent management. It chose the latter.

“Our sites are located close to our customers’ factories. If we moved away from these locations we could have faced enormous logistical costs,” Eggelaar explains. “In terms of salaries, we cannot compete with our customers who are also trying to recruit similar candidates. We must keep people by offering them interesting careers and a good culture to work in. We strive to offer employees a role where they can make a real difference.”

These factors have acted as a catalyst for a new, more strategic approach to HR. Central to that is the shift away from spreadsheets and presentations to focus more on real-time consolidated HR data that is accessible across the entire organization enabling faster, better business decisions.

“Strategic personnel management was not deeply embedded in our HR DNA, but we have taken the first steps with the deployment of Workday Human Capital Management,” says Eggelaar. “We have the data to understand our employees, where they are now, and where they want to go in their careers. We have better visibility of the number of engineers that we will need.”

Yet Eggelaar adds, “We want more. We want to look at trends—what is happening in the department, the market, and the rest of the world. Based on this, we can get insights into how many people and what kinds of skills we will need in the future.”

Insights into Skillsets

One of the key drivers for transforming HR was the ability to improve the organization’s understanding of skillsets across various regions, and how these could be utilized more effectively. In addition to Inalfa’s Netherlands headquarters, the company also has production sites in Poland, Slovakia, South Korea, Mexico, the U.S., and China.

“It may be that we are weaker in certain competencies in China than we are in Slovakia where there is an abundance of talent in a particular area. With the right insights, we can very quickly hone in on these gaps and plan accordingly,” explains Eggelaar.

Initially, the organization selected Workday for tasks such as determining the number of full-time employees and to provide better visibility into people costs and related factors. In the next phase, Workday will be used to identify high performers and assess employees at risk of leaving the business. The business will also use the project as an opportunity to transform its approach to performance enablement.

“Younger generations want continuous feedback,” he says. “We must, therefore, create a system with feedback loops, where they take control of their own careers when it comes to assessing their own performance. Too often feedback feels like an exercise in box ticking. ”

Supporting Today’s Labor Market

In the spirit of cultural democracy, Inalfa involved managers and employees early in the Workday deployment process, asking them which HR processes would still be required on the new system, and which could be removed. This was designed to reduce pushback and overcome resistance to a new system.

Eggelaar firmly believes that Inalfa’s shift to Workday means that the organization’s HR processes and systems will better reflect the challenges of the modern labor market.

“Working patterns are different now,” he adds. “Before, people traditionally worked from 9am to 6pm. If you stayed until 7pm you were the hardest-working employee. But the focus has now shifted to productivity and getting the job done.”

Interested in learning more about Inalfa’s journey? Bas Eggelaar will be presenting a “Customer Success Spotlight’” session at Workday Elevate in Maarssen, Netherlands on June 6, 2017.