EasyJet manages fast-growing European workforce with Workday cloud HR

Budget airline operator easyJet plans to move its 8,000-strong workforce onto Workday’s cloud HR system to support management as it expands its business internationally.


Budget airline operator easyJet plans to move its 8,000-strong workforce onto Workday’s cloud HR system to support management as it expands its business internationally.

The British company was formed in 1998 and has since expanded rapidly through acquisitions, establishing operations across continental Europe, in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. It is the UK’s largest and Europe’s fourth largest airline, and last year flew more than 60 million passengers.

From the fourth quarter of this year, easyJet intends to go live with Workday’s human capital management (HCM) software in the cloud. The project is part of plans to overhaul its HR systems to support its rapidly growing workforce.

“One of the driving forces for changing our HR system is that we have been using a system which dates back to a time when we were largely a UK organisation, so it didn’t really support the European nature of the organisation today,” said Chris Paull, head of operational HR at easyJet. “This is an investment in our people and our people systems, bringing us up to date and making us a true European organisation.”

Legacy on-premise HR system

The implementation involves replacing its Northgate HR software system which lacked flexibility and functionality, such as around self-service.

“The problems we were experiencing with were typical of a system which is 14-years old: running reports and extracting the data and manipulating it in Excel,” Paull told ComputerworldUK.

“We wanted something more intuitive, and something that supported more of the core processes, especially around talent and compensation.”

The company is currently in the design phase for its Workday rollout, and will go live in the fourth quarter with a cloud application that unifies core HR and talent management.

‘Highly mobile workforce’

One of the main benefits of the Workday system will be to enable employees and managers to access HR data on mobile devices.

EasyJet currently has a ‘bring your own device’ policy in places, as well as a number of company owned devices. According to Paull, many staff have indicated interest in using the new HR system via smartphone or tablet. This is likely to benefit the business by increasing usage of the new system.

“We have a very mobile workforce if you look at what we do. However we have struggled to offer mobile access to HR information to anyone in the company - and anywhere in the world - with the current system. We don’t have apps linked to our current HR system, and with Workday we will have that."

He added: “If we give that breadth of opportunity for our employees and people managers to interact with the system, there is likely to be a higher level of adoption, which in turn will lead to greater benefits with the embedded processes such as the self-service and the reporting capabilities.”

Paul added that the Workday language functionality will simplify the process of hiring into new countries. “We are a seasonal business so recruitment is always a challenge, as we are hiring for the season as well as recruiting into new countries.

“Although all our employees speak English because that is the language of the industry, English might not be their natural language when it comes to looking at an HR system. So out of the box Workday gives us the ability for employees to choose what language they want to interact with the systems.” 

No cloud concerns

EasyJet has been forward-thinking about the adoption of cloud services in the past. Bert Craven, enterprise architect at easyJet, has previously highlighted the need for IT departments to allow business users to deploy Saas apps within an organisation to ComputerworldUK, and the company has adopted a number of cloud tools, down to the infrastructure layer, being an early adopter of Microsoft Azure.

Therefore, other than the usual due diligence being carried out around the use of a cloud system by the business, there was an openness to using the cloud.

“We have other cloud systems at use in our organisation, so that barrier had already been overcome. Cloud definitely forms a key part of our systems strategy going forward.”

“We have done quite a lot of due diligence, working with our employees to ensure they understand what cloud brings, and where the additional security sits within the cloud solutions that in many cases makes them as safe as traditional services from a data protection and privacy  perspective, if not more so.” 

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