Workday brings new people purpose for PZ Cussons

Julian Sykes, group talent director at PZ Cussons

Major British manufacturer of personal healthcare products, PZ Cussons is part of the global FTSE 250 consumer goods and is based across four continents. The firm is best known for its brands such as Carex, Imperial Leather, Sanctuary Spa, and St. Tropez. 

Until a couple of years ago, the business had declining profitability and it was struggling to work out its direction and future growth. Placing people and culture at the heart, the company underwent a change of leadership and sought a new strategy, focus and sense of purpose. 


A cleaner vision with people at the heart 

A significant vendor proposal process saw the “big three usual suspects” weigh in, but it became clear to PZ Cussons that Workday was a very different proposition and aligned with its new three ‘S’s mantra of ‘simple, scalable and sustainable’. The user friendly nature and the quality of the system really showed in the technology and end user interface, providing the reassurance the firm wanted to simplify and standardize its business.  

Julian Sykes, group talent director at PZ Cussons, said: “We became aware that we didn’t have the right leadership capability across the organization. We wanted to understand who we’ve got, the skills they have, and how we can nurture and grow those skills.” 

With one unifying Workday platform, PZ Cussons sought to connect its 3000 people across Africa, Asia, Europe and America. 


Under budget and beyond scope  

PZ Cussons drew together a core program team and identified Alight as its partner of choice. The design process and system build kicked off in the summer of 2021, and it was six months from a blank piece of paper to a HR system switch on. 

Starting userless, PZ Cussons were able to test and make any tweaks during a buffer period, before a go-live in April that same year, with employees starting to add core data for absence, recruitment and compensation.  

“It worked incredibly well,” said Sykes. “We assumed that there would be a period of hypercare, which would be pretty intense, and actually there were very few challenges.” 

After fast and effective initial project stages, the final implementation stage was brought forward. The talent modules were in place in time for the new performance year at the end of May and the last Workday functionalities were in place by late October 2022, completing 15 percent under budget and beyond scope.  


From spreadsheets and memory to a new simplified standard 

Enabling simplified, people-driven processes, the Workday platform has started driving cost benefits already, and has allowed tasks like talent reviews, succession planning, performance management and end of year performance reviews to flow seamlessly into merit, salary and bonus calculations.  

“We’ve gone from spreadsheets, PowerPoint, flip charts, Post-It notes, Sellotape and memory to a single unifying technology, with a platform that has standardized our business. We’re doing it one way and it’s simplified our business massively and provided us with a source of data and insight that is driving value within the business already.” 

Looking ahead, PZ Cussons are excited about nurturing an ongoing partnership with Workday.  

“We’ve done the tricky second album, surprisingly well,” said Sykes. “We now need to continue the simplification which is driving cost benefits, and knowing who is joining and who is leaving the company we can boost retention of talent.” 

Currently using SAP for finance and payroll, the company sees huge potential to possibly bring those areas onto the Workday platform in the future.  

For Sykes, Workday allows innovation long beyond implementation: “We are starting to bring together that magic cocktail of performance and potential that enables the company to build a picture of the talent we’ve got within the business. But this is really still the beginning of the change journey, not the end of it.”