People Strategy

At adidas, we believe that our people are the key to the company’s success. Their performance, well-being and knowledge have a significant impact on brand desire, consumer satisfaction and, ultimately, our financial performance. Through the delivery of our People Strategy, we focus our efforts on four fundamentals: the attraction and retention of the right talents, role model leadership, diversity and inclusion, as well as the creation of a unique corporate culture.


As an integral part of our corporate strategy ‘Creating the New’, the People Strategy is a testament to thinking that our strategic business plan can only be executed if we speak to our people on all levels and win both their hearts and minds. The People Strategy consists of four pillars that serve as a basis for creating the culture and environment for our people in order to successfully support ‘Creating the New’.These four pillars also serve as a tool for prioritization, sense-checking and measuring our HR actions and initiatives. The People Strategy is implemented through a portfolio of projects which will directly deliver into each of the four pillars. In 2019, we made good progress in all of these pillars.

The four pillars of our People Strategy

The four pillars of our People Strategy (Graphic)


Our HR function measures the success and the effectiveness of the company’s efforts with regard to its people initiatives through a set of chosen KPIs. We use two people KPIs: employee experience as an internal measure and employer rankings as an external measure.

Employee engagement

We have set ourselves the goal of becoming the best sports company in the world by becoming a truly consumer-centric organization and putting our people at the heart of everything we do. When it comes to measuring whether we are living up to these ambitions, our consumers and people are the best data sources. We are convinced that our employees’ feedback will play a crucial role in our pursuit of creating a desirable employee experience and continuing to attract and retain top talent. We can only tell if we are successful by asking our people and hence empower them to share their feedback on a regular basis. In support of this thinking, we launched ‘People Pulse’ – our approach and system platform for measuring the level of employee satisfaction with the experience adidas provides as an employer – for all office employees with an email account.

People Pulse allows for the measurement of employee (eNPS). SEE INTERNAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM The calculation logic of the eNPS score is identical with brand NPS: Based on the main question ‘On a scale of 0 – 10, how likely are you to recommend adidas as a place to work?’, the total share of detractors (responses below 7) is deducted from the total share of promoters (responses scoring 9 and 10), producing the eNPS score. This approach as well as a focus on collecting open-comment feedback from employees on a regular basis allowed the reduction of the questionnaire to a short pulse check of seven questions maximum, with the eNPS question at the center.

The People Pulse cadence is made up of two components:

  • The eNPS question, which is asked in every survey to allow for tracking of the results over time.
  • Changing focus topics which are directly derived from the company’s strategic agenda as well as the and the .

In 2019, we saw the quarterly People Pulse continue to be leveraged as an important feedback channel from corporate employees to the company. In March, we reached similar levels to the all-time high response rate of the previous year, with 67% of employees responding. On average, our eNPS remained stable in 2019 compared to the previous year. Reports with detailed results and scores were provided to the Executive Board and leaders down to Board –4 level. Employees have access to the overall company results via our global intranet. Result recipients continued to review, cascade and openly discuss the results and drive action on identified areas of improvement.

We not only leverage People Pulse for general feedback on the employee experience at adidas, but also as a tool to gather employee insights regarding important elements of our strategy, such as consumer obsession.


In 2019, we continued to roll out a new HR cloud-based system platform that aims to further enhance the HR system landscape by driving standardization, digitization and automation of currently potentially time-consuming processes across all HR areas. We are convinced that this will allow the HR function to pro-actively manage the workforce, improve the employee experience, and enable the entire organization to make more data-driven decisions.

After successful consolidation of our HR Shared Services in 2019 into a cross-functional global business service, Global Business Services (GBS), operation centers are currently set up in Porto, Dalian and Portland. All employee queries related to topics of an administrative nature, such as compensation, benefits, time management and HR systems, are centrally channeled and managed through GBS. As a result, our HR Partners are enabled to fully focus on their core business, supporting line managers and employees on strategic topics such as career counseling, people management and coaching.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

A survey-based measure of how likely people are to recommend a brand. The survey is based on one single question to consumers: ‘How likely are you to recommend this brand to your friends?’, which can be answered within a scale from 0 to 10. Promoters are consumers giving the brand a 9 or 10 rating, while detractors are those between a 0 and 6 rating. The NPS is the difference between promoters and detractors measured in percentage points.

Leadership Framework

The Leadership Framework is based on the three company behaviors creativity, collaboration, confidence (the ‘3Cs’) and articulates the particular behaviors that are expected of leaders at adidas. The framework was developed jointly with employees worldwide who provided feedback on what great leadership within adidas looks like to them. It provides a global and universal language that is inclusive, reduces the need for local interpretations and outlines concrete behaviors that serve as a measure of leadership effectiveness. It is built into the way we hire and promote as well as rate performance.


The ‘3Cs’ stand for creativity, collaboration and confidence. It is adidas’ goal to develop a culture that cherishes creativity, collaboration and confidence as well as high performance – the behaviors we deem crucial to the successful delivery of our corporate strategy. In fact, our culture and people serve as the foundation and a key enabler of the ‘Creating the New’ strategy.

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