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Employees and Social Investments

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employees at SAP (in FTEs)


Business Health Culture Index


Employee Engagement Index

Supporting Customers by Nurturing Our Employees

Our employees play a pivotal role in helping our customers succeed in the new digital economy. Our employees empower our customers to Run Simple and work more innovatively. At the same time, they enable SAP to become “the most innovative cloud company powered by SAP HANA.”

We believe that by providing an environment where our people can engage, develop their skills, and draw on the support they need to create and innovate, SAP can help to make the world run better. For this reason, we are fully committed to nurturing our people at every stage of their career at SAP.

An HR Strategy Designed Specifically for Our People

Our human resources (HR) strategy uses cloud technology to help us Run Simple. It helps us change the way we hire new talent, and to transform the way we develop and retain our employees. At the same time, it allows us to create a culture at SAP that is able to deal with the complexity, speed, and scope of a digital workplace. This culture inspires innovation, leads change, and ultimately creates employee satisfaction. Our HR team stays focused on delivering a seamless, simple employee experience by following three guiding principles: customer satisfaction, simplification, and standardization.

Listening to Our Employees

The People Survey 2016 results are extraordinarily positive. Employee satisfaction went up in nearly all aspects and questionnaire topics. This especially holds true for one of our most important dimensions, the Employee Engagement Index (EEI). In 2016, we see a significant increase of the EEI by three percentage points to 85%.

*The EEI score for 2015 was recalculated from 81% to 82% based on updated questions. This calculation method has been applied moving forward.

Ensuring that our employees are highly engaged remains one of our company-wide strategic goals. For 2017 through to 2020, we aim to reach an Employee Engagement Index between 84% and 86%.

A change by one percentage point of the EEI would have an impact of €45 million to €55 million on SAP’s operating profit. For more information on how we calculate this impact, see the Connectivity of Financial and Non-Financial Indicators section of the SAP Integrated Report online.

The People Survey 2015 results revealed two focus areas for 2016: simplification and innovation. In 2016, we started a company-wide “Run Simple at SAP” initiative to help the business improve processes and services, as well as numerous efforts to boost and promote innovation initiatives. Conducted from October to November, our People Survey 2016 revealed moderate improvements in both simplification and innovation. We will continue with simplification and innovation as our company-wide focus areas in 2017.

In the second half of 2016, we also conducted a strategy dialog survey to assess the degree to which employees understand and believe in our strategy, our culture, and our leadership, as well as the capability to drive innovation. This survey revealed that while we already have the right innovation mindset, many of the internal innovation tools available are not yet widely known within the company.

In addition, we also measure our Business Health Culture Index (BHCI) based on our People Survey. The BHCI assesses the degree to which our workplace culture supports people’s well-being, work-life balance, and organizational health.

In 2016, the positive trend of the BHCI continued with a score of 78% compared to 75% in 2015. This encouraging result shows that a health-focused culture has impacted employees in a positive way.

*The BHCI score for 2014 was recalculated based on two updated questions. This calculation method has been applied moving forward.

Getting the Right Talent in the Right Place at the Right Time

While we increased our overall hiring volume successfully in 2016, increasing the number of “early talent” hires (people with professional experience of up to two years) has also been a key priority for us. In 2016, approximately one third of all external hires fell into this category.

At the same time, continued recognition of SAP as an employer of choice contributed to our success in meeting our hiring targets in 2016. SAP won many awards across the globe in the areas of diversity, inclusion, employer attractiveness, and people satisfaction. For a comprehensive list of awards given to SAP in 2016, see the Recognition section of the SAP Integrated Report online.

Selection of employer branding awards SAP received in 2016


Collaborating with Educational Institutions

Our collaboration with educational institutions is key to recruiting early talent. SAP works closely with over 3,100 universities on international events such as student meet-ups and info days. In addition, we run a number of coding events such as SAP InnoJam, as well as a broad variety of activities and events through our SAP University Alliances program.

SAP also runs a vocational training program that allows students to work towards their university degree while gaining valuable business experience at the same time. As of the end of 2016, more than 1,000 vocational training students were enrolled in the program. Overall, we measured a conversion rate (number of these types of students who stayed with SAP after completing their dual studies) for vocational training students of 82% in 2016.

Connecting with Refugee Communities

As a company with employees of approximately 80 different nationalities working in Germany alone, we are open to talented people from all communities. As part of our “Engaging with Refugees” program, we are working on a number of initiatives that promote cultural integration through training and recruitment. For example, SAP joined Germany’s “Wir zusammen” (“We together”) initiative, which provides an Internet platform to support the efforts of participating companies to integrate refugees into the German labor market. In 2016, SAP offered 100 internships and 14 vocational training positions to refugees in Germany. In 2017, SAP will again offer up to 100 additional internships and 10 vocational training positions to candidates who are refugees.

In addition, 2016 saw the launch of Refugee Code Week, empowering young people and inspiring refugee communities with job-relevant coding skills. In collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the event introduced more than 10,000 refugees and nationals in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey to coding basics, Web development, and software skills in the SAP Business One application. The most promising students are referred to SAP partner ReBootKAMP ( for an intensive 16-week training program and assistance in securing job placements.

Investing in Talent Development

At SAP, we believe that everyone is a talent and we invest in the professional development of all our employees. We continue to build development offerings for specific groups such as early talents, experts, and fast-track employees. To provide career development support, we also introduced career counselling sessions that are delivered either in person or virtually.

In addition, we launched SAP Talk to 8,100 early-adopter employees in 2016. This approach provides a new, state-of-the-art way of managing performance at SAP, helping foster a continuous dialog on professional development between managers and employees. We plan to roll out SAP Talk to all SAP employees in 2017.

Our overall retention rate in 2016 was 93.7% compared with 91.8% in 2015. We define retention as the ratio of the average number of employees minus voluntary attrition to the average number of employees (in full-time equivalents, or FTEs). High retention is something we are aiming for as reflected in all our activities to drive high employee engagement.

Engaging Our People Through Impactful and Inspirational Leadership

Our investment in developing our leaders is delivering results according to our People Survey. Living up to our SAP leadership principles and building trust with employees has become a key ingredient of successful leadership performance. By the end of 2016, 57.6% of leaders at SAP completed our flagship leadership development program. Leaders who completed this had higher employee engagement and leadership trust scores. In 2016, leadership trust reached 57% (2015: 52%) and we are committed to keep this high score moving forward.

Our Leadership Principles:
  • Drive Simplicity
  • Develop Amazing Talent
  • Ensure Customer Success

Making Learning a Compelling Experience for Everyone

We support employees at all levels and roles as they strive to achieve their long-term career aspirations. Our learning strategy is based on the principle that much of employee learning and development happens outside formal training such as coaching, mentoring, rotational programs, and on-the-job-guided development experiences. This is why we are transitioning to a continuous learning model with a strong focus on more informal learning activities.

To achieve this, we make high-quality learning opportunities easily accessible to all employees through our cloud-based learning management system (SAP SuccessFactors solution). In 2016, we provisioned 1.3 million courses to 90.7% of our employees. We also initiated a new tuition assistance program to help employees as they pursue additional educational and professional certification opportunities.

Self-paced online programs that include language learning as well as technical and soft-skills training courses are open to all employees. In addition, the online programs enable employees to build impactful development plans that meet their career goals. Our innovative peer-to-peer learning portfolio includes coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, and facilitation opportunities. In 2016, we hosted many live and virtual “learning culture” workshops throughout the world, as an opportunity to foster the exchange of ideas between peers and managers.

Creating an Environment That Drives Innovation, Performance, and Engagement

SAP aims to create a working environment that helps drive innovation, high performance, and employee satisfaction. We do so by providing, among others, the following benefits and activities:

  • SAP Shares program: Introduced in 2016, this equity program consists of two different plans, ensuring closer market alignment. The “Own SAP” plan enables employees to purchase shares with preferred conditions and build value by becoming an SAP shareholder. The “Move SAP” plan is a restricted stock unit plan that rewards selected employees and executives for their contribution to the success of the company. For more information, see the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements section, Note (27).
  • Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award: In its third year, this prestigious award provides the highest internal employee recognition at SAP for delivering on our vision and strategy. In 2016, the award went to the “Skills for Africa” initiative, which helps fill the skills gap in the IT sector in Africa.
  • Intrapreneurship program: Open to all global employees, this program attracted more than 830 entries from over 1,500 employees in 2016. It enables employees to act as entrepreneurs and transform innovative ideas into profitable businesses in new markets.
  • SAP SuccessFactors solutions: To make our employees’ lives easier when dealing with HR matters, we continue to transform and simplify our entire HR IT landscape by implementing SAP SuccessFactors solutions. In this context, approximately 160 HR experts supported sales teams in deals related to our own human capital management solutions. Also in 2016, we announced the Klaus Tschira Human Resources Innovation Award, an annual program for SAP partners and customers that have contributed a unique and innovative solution in the field of human resources.
  • People Weeks: In 2016, SAP again sponsored a two-week event designed for employees to exchange ideas and cultivate a greater connection across cultures, genders, and generations. Under the motto “You in the Digital Workplace,” the event reached over 27,000 employees in 124 locations and 58 countries.
  • “How We Run”: Launched in 2015 to showcase the behavioral values that provide the foundation to SAP’s corporate culture, our “How We Run” behaviors initiative has received widespread support and adoption among SAP employees worldwide.

Our “How We Run” Behaviors

Promoting Inclusion, Well-Being, and Social Innovation

An inclusive, bias-free culture inspires greater innovation and helps us to better connect with and serve our customers. It also fosters employee engagement, and makes SAP a more attractive workplace.

Closing the Gender Gap

As the first multinational technology company, SAP was awarded the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certificate in 2016. It recognizes our global commitment to gender diversity and equality in the workplace and reinforces SAP’s publicly stated goal to fill 25% of its management positions with women by the end of 2017. We have made great strides toward our goal, increasing the proportion of female managers from 23.6% in 2015 to 24.5% in 2016.

Throughout 2016, SAP sponsored and hosted numerous events focused on attracting, developing, and supporting women. These included major events in China, Colombia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United States and other countries. Additional ongoing initiatives supporting women at SAP include the Women’s Professional Growth Webinar series, the Business Women’s Network, and the Women@SAP online community. In addition, we offer executive sponsorships for women at SAP and the Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program (LEAP), a highly respected and award-winning development program that helps prepare high-potential women for leadership roles at SAP.

Creating an Inclusive Environment

Working closely with ethnicity-based employee network groups such as the Black Employee Network (BEN), and Latinos@SAP, SAP launched several important initiatives in 2016 in the United States. An example is Project Propel, a program designed to enable U.S. educational institutions that have historically served minorities to build the next generation of technology talent. The program focuses on providing students with critical digital enterprise skills that are in demand in the SAP ecosystem.

In addition, we participate in a wide range of activities to create a more inclusive environment throughout the organization, including:

  • Focus on Insight Diversity and Inclusion curriculum: A global learning curriculum launched for all employees in September 2016 to ensure that everyone at SAP understands the importance and benefits of a diverse workplace.
  • Business Beyond Bias: Launched in August 2016, this initiative includes significant investment in programs and technology that support greater diversity. This helps eliminate bias not only at SAP but also in customer and partner organizations.
  • White House Tech Inclusion Pledge: SAP is one of the largest global technology companies to participate in this pledge, announced during former President Obama’s Global Entrepreneurship Innovation Summit 2016 in Silicon Valley.
  • Autism at Work program: 107 employees with Autism Spectrum Disorder currently work at SAP. Launched in Argentina this year, we have implemented the Autism at Work program in nine countries.
  • Global Pride@SAP employee network: This network has grown to more than 8,000 members, sponsoring numerous activities and initiatives that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their allies.

Caring for the Health and Well-Being of Our Employees

We believe that the way we care for our people is closely linked to our business success. When people feel healthy, respected, and cared for, it results in higher productivity, engagement, innovation, and customer satisfaction.

A caring culture enables our employees to live to their full potential and accelerates our ability to achieve our goals. Consequently, we invest in extensive employee benefits, programs, and services that truly make people’s lives better. These include:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): This program helps employees to deal better with life’s challenges by providing free, confidential, and impartial expert advice and support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Corporate Oncology Program (COPE): Available in Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States, the program provides SAP employees facing cancer with access to an individual molecular genetic tumor analysis and interpretation.
  • Health checkup: A one-day, one-on-one health checkup program for executives.
  • Take Charge of Your Health and Well-Being program: This program empowers employees to take better care of their health and well-being.
  • Health Ambassador Network: This global network strengthens our focus on health in SAP office locations and helps identify best practices.
  • Local health and well-being offerings: Services such as skin screening, on-site fitness centers and activity classes, mindfulness practice, eyesight testing, and health awareness sessions are also available to employees in various office locations.

Engaging in Social Investments

As our vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives shows, we are passionate about making a positive impact on people’s lives, both in our communities and in the wider world. As SAP guides our customers through digital transformation, our social investments focus on ensuring that today’s young people – regardless of background – get the skills they need to thrive and lead in this digital economy.

Our strategy is based on two main focus areas. We aim to increase the capacity of innovative social enterprises that put young people on the path to successful careers. In addition, we aim to build a skilled workforce for the IT sector through training and workforce development programs. In 2016, we donated €22.3 million to charitable organizations.

Improving Lives, Sharing Experience

As part of our social investment commitment, SAP encourages its employees to contribute their time and talent to support social causes. Whether by offering individual hands-on support, or business coaching and mentoring, we run a number of initiatives that help make a real difference to people’s lives in the communities in which they live and work.

An annual highlight is our “Month of Service” program. This year, more than 22,000 employees in 42 countries volunteered almost 142,000 hours to this program alone. While passing on valuable skills and helping the world to run better, employees taking part in these programs benefit from what can be an incredibly rewarding experience. In addition to making a positive social impact, they develop leadership skills, learn about new markets, and grow their professional network.

Extending Code Week Initiatives

In 2016, SAP extended our successful Code Week initiatives to bring digital literacy to thousands of young people who may not otherwise have the opportunities to learn software coding skills.

Now in its second year, Africa Code Week saw thousands of coding activities organized across 30 African countries and through openSAP coursework. Africa Code Week demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships: Hundreds of schools, teachers, ministers, community centers, businesses, and non-profit organizations work together towards the common goal of ensuring Africa’s children are not left out of the digital economy. In 2016, the program reached 426,000 children in Africa.

Supporting Our Social Sabbatical Portfolio

With four unique programs across the award-winning social sabbatical portfolio, we offer employees at all levels the opportunity to extend their skills, expertise, and know-how. Participation in the program challenges employees to solve concrete business challenges for non-profit organizations and social enterprises in either their home or emerging markets.

By volunteering their time and talent for assignments that last between two and six weeks, our employees strengthen their leadership competencies, cross-industry know-how, and intercultural sensitivity. They achieve all this while ensuring their “client” is better able to deliver on their social mission.

Recent projects include building strategic plans for social entrepreneurship incubators and strengthening the internal capabilities of non-profit organizations focused on STEM education and digital literacy. As such, we worked with the Dreamoval Foundation in Accra, Ghana, to support the development of a growth strategy to strengthen the IT skills of 170,000 teachers to help improve educational outcomes across the country.

In 2016, we also extended our social sabbatical portfolio to joint projects with SAP customers. In July, a joint team of volunteers from SAP and GlaxoSmithKline plc designed and implemented an integrated database for Partners in Health, a non-profit organization based in Kigali, Rwanda. Additional social sabbatical collaboration with customers is planned for 2017.

Through our social sabbatical portfolio, 213 SAP employees provided 58,808 hours of pro bono service to 71 organizations in 15 countries in 2016.

Changing the Game for Underprivileged Youths with the KickApp Cup

To ignite passion for IT, we need to be creative about how to reach young people. We developed a creative approach, harnessing the power of soccer to bring people together while spreading a passion for IT.

The first annual KickApp Cup brought together 200 young community leaders from disadvantaged backgrounds to work closely with 180 SAP developers and coaches. Their aim: to develop a prototype app that would help non-profit organizations tackle issues such as monitoring attendance or tracking social impact.

Regional competitions took place at SAP Labs locations worldwide including Brazil, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, and the United States. The teams coded together, played soccer and had fun, while competing to attend the finals in Lyon, France, and Heidelberg, Germany, to present their app prototypes.

The event was organized in collaboration with streetfootballworld, a non-governmental organization (NGO) whose mission is to use soccer as a tool to drive social change. The best ideas from each team were then combined to create a final app that was presented during the 16th streetfootballworld Festival at the European soccer championships (UEFA EURO 2016).

Gaining International Recognition for Award-Winning Programs

SAP received significant recognition in 2016 for the innovative nature of its social investment programs. For more information, see the Recognition section of the SAP Integrated Report online.

Headcount and Personnel Expense

On December 31, 2016, we had 84,183 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees worldwide (December 31, 2015: 76,986). This represents an increase in headcount of 7,197 FTEs in comparison to 2015. The average number of employees in 2016 was 80,609 (2015: 75,180).

We define headcount in FTE as the number of people on permanent employment contract considering their staffing percentage. Students, individuals employed by SAP who are currently not working due to various reasons (such as maternity leave), and temporary employees with limited contracts of less than six months are excluded from our figures. The number of temporary employees is not material.

Our personnel expense per employee decreased to approximately €127,000 in 2016 (2015: approximately €135,000). This decrease in expense is primarily attributable to a significant decrease of employee-related restructuring expenses in 2016 compared to the previous year. The personnel expense per employee is defined as the overall personnel expense divided by the average number of employees. For more information about employee compensation and a detailed overview of the number of people we employ, see the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements section, Note (7).


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