Digital Transformation Project: HR at PostNL – Team 1


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PostNL is the largest and best-known post and parcel distributor in the Netherlands. For a long time, PostNL was able to operate in a relative “safe” environment, as it had the privilege of being the sole organization that was allowed to distribute post in the Netherlands (originally, PostNL was state-owned). However, in the current environment PostNL is facing certain challenges which forces the organization to adapt. More specifically, the current market is digitising, e-commerce is growing, competition is getting fiercer, and the regulatory landscape is shifting. PostNL aims to differentiate itself by being customer focused, rethinking services and solutions, and by focusing on trusted delivery. These value-drivers are based on three pillars, being people, IT infrastructure, and a strong network. The workforce of PostNL is perceived to be their most important assets, as in the end, it is them who are creating value to the customer, and thus making revenue.

HR is the primary department that is focusing on managing the workforce. Within HR, a cloud-based solution, SuccessFactors, is introduced to streamline certain HR practices, including performance management and PostNL academy (training module). For the project at hand, we focused on the performance management process.

In order to improve the existing process, we recommended PostNL to introduce a digital portfolio, connected to the existing information technology. By doing so, the performance appraisal cycle will become become bottom-up, data driven, continuous, and interactive, instead of the current top-down, slow, and not-data driven manner. Employees will be asked regularly to give feedback to the peers they have met within the organisation. Thereby, data can be tracked continuously and from a wide variety of angles. This data can be used to facilitate the performance appraisal conversations with the given employees.

However, there are certain risks involved, when choosing to implement such a system. For example, the employees within the organisation may be reluctant to download an application that would facilitate the feedback-option. The adoptation rate is highly essential, as objective feedback requires much imput, instead of just a few ratings. Furthermore, by asking peers to give feedback to peers, there is a social desirability bias involved. individuals may either give overly positive feedback to peers they do like, or overly negative feedback to peers they do not like, or to those they have had an affective conflict with recently. In order to overcome such challenges, PostNL should clearly communicate what the exact value of the novel system is, and emphasize that in the end, the employees will benefit as it is their development that is at stake. Furthermore, it could provide trainings to show how the novel feedback system works, so that the individual employees may better see the value. Consequently, they will more likely to adopt the new way of performance management, and might be using it more objectively.

Eventually, the development of employees will enable PostNL to execute their strategy in a more effective manner; such a change in HR will enable the organisation as a whole to better reach their strategic goals.

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