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Distell uses HRSD on the Now Platform
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Distell puts employee wellbeing first


Processes and ≈100 sub-processes automated


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Employees safely returned to the workplace

Working safely during a pandemic
When COVID-19 hit, many employees who were used to working in the office suddenly found themselves isolated at home. Distell took the initiative, keeping staff informed and connected with help from ServiceNow.

With bars and restaurants closed, and events canceled, alcohol sales plummeted during COVID-19 lock down. Distell, the South African wine and spirits manufacturer, had to close most production for 150 days.

Most production, but not all.

With alcohol a key ingredient in hygienic anitizer products, Distell quickly pivoted production. It committed 100,000 liters of alcohol to sanitizer production, distributed free to vulnerable communities across South Africa.

But to do so, in the face of a raging pandemic, the company needed to ensure its own working conditions were safe, and that every step of the process was tracked and traced.

“Our priority as Distell–right now and always–is the safety and wellbeing of our employees, our stakeholders, and society at large,” says Richard Rushton, Distell Group CEO.

Building confidence in a return to workplace
COVID-19 presented a unique challenge. In the earliest days of the pandemic information was scarce. Distell immediately identified an opportunity to use its employee service portal as a means to update employees on the latest health guidance. When information was updated, alerts could be pushed to employees.

As the situation developed, and Distell production diverted to hand sanitizer, it was clear Distell needed to take a more engaged role in employee health.

The ServiceNow Safe Workplace Suite enabled it to do this.

The Suite provides contract tracing, health questionnaires, and workspace booking, allowing Distell to re-open its offices safely and efficiently to ensure business continuity. With offices operating at 50% capacity, and therefore not enough desks for all staff, the solution allows office workers to book a desk for a given day or time. Distell can then determine who has been in the office and who they have sat next to.

“For sure, many of the processes involved in returning to the office are invasive – the temperature checks, the hand cleaning, the face masks, asking staff to work from an unfamiliar office. We aimed to make this experience as simple and user-friendly as possible,” says Wanda van der Bijl, HR Business Analyst, Distell.

Connecting an international enterprise
The Now Platform brings together multiple systems from across the Distell business. It links HR with payroll and facilities management for seamless, cross-enterprise service delivery. Facilities teams know exactly who is on-site and HR can confirm receipt of the latest health updates.

In a world where many staff are working remotely, or have had to change address, mobile access is imperative for a consistent, timely engagement. “Can you imagine trying to update 3,000 staff using Excel and email? Or mailing paper requests? ServiceNow ensures a mobile, digital, integrated process experience. We can pull status reports each day and line managers and business units can check outstanding tasks. Anything we’ve asked of the Now Platform it’s been comfortably able to manage,” says Wanda. One user, the Head of Human Resources for Distell Africa, comments: “I had such a pleasant user experience with Now Mobile and was surprised at how practical and usable it was.”

Distell logo
Cape Town, South Africa

ServiceNow ensures a digital, integrated process experience. Anything we’ve asked of the Now Platform it’s been able to manage.

Wanda van der Bijl

HR Business Analyst


A relentless search for new service features
“Our ServiceNow journey started in 2017. What started as a consolidation opportunity has grown into a new way of engaging with our employees,” says Wanda. “We have nine offices in South Africa and operations in five countries around the world. A shared services portal was seen as an ideal way of standardizing tasks and removing paper from the business.”

Designed and implemented by local ServiceNow partner, Quintica, ServiceNow is the platform on which Distell’s worker safety is built. It is the centerpiece of Distell’s shared services portal, housing payroll, onboarding, and HR admin tasks, and the gateway to a new safe workplace.

Today, holiday booking, payroll queries, and a host of HR FAQs can be found online. With ServiceNow, Distell is able to boost employee productivity by enabling them to self-service tasks via mobile, for example, holiday requests can be submitted by SMS.

By understanding the ServiceNow end-to-end platform offering, Quintica has been able help to extend the initial HR deployment to offer group shared services including Order 2 Cash, Procure to Pay, and IT. “Working with a partner like Quintica, that understands our business and can apply this to the technology, has been a key enabler for us on this journey with ServiceNow.”

As the portal develops, more manual and repetitive employee requests are being handed off to a virtual agent. This, Wanda adds, frees service teams to deal with more complex issues and empowers employees to self-service common requests.

“There will always be a human to speak to, but we realize virtual agents or SMS are a useful way to complete certain tasks,” she says. “Through the pandemic and all the changes it brought, we learnt that communication is key and we’ve been mindful of that throughout this process. It’s important we bring users and business units along with us.”

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