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Author's profile photo HARVEY Xu

Adopting General Display Name

In this blog I will introduce a new functionality we offer in Employee Central as of 2211 called “General Display Name” and present a business-oriented view on how to implement it along with some practical tips for customers expecting name format configuration and consistent employee name display.


You can now configure employee names that are expected to be displayed consistently across SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite. A new admin option, Enable adoption of General Display Name, is added to control it. You can see this option under Admin Center -> Company System and Logo Settings. The new capability provides both consistency and flexibility to managing display names. With the new capability, general display names preferred by employees are displayed in all interactions where a legal name isn’t required, while administrators and HRBPs can also access a person’s legal name whenever needed.

  • For customers who have enabled Employee Central, before adopting the General Display Name, configure a name format you prefer using either Legal Entity or People Profile. General Display Name can be configured per legal entity, which means, as an administrator, you can configure name formats that meet the business needs and keep with the best practices of each legal entity.
  • For customers who haven’t enabled Employee Central, after you enable the Enable adoption of General Display Name option, you can import General Display Name using Employee Import.

We have introduced a new standard element DISPLAYNAME in Employee Profile to persistent General Display Name. Although DISPLAYNAME can be imported, we don’t encourage customers who have enabled Employee Central to import DISPLAYNAME. It could be overwritten by HRIS Sync job. For customers who have Employee Central enabled should use Name Format to configure General Display Name. As DISPLAYNAME is an important data and is used by many business scenarios, it can’t be disabled through either import Succession Data Model or Manage Business Configuration. And it is always available in Employee Import Template. In below sections I will introduce configuration and usage of General Display Name for both Employee Central Customer and Non Employee Central Customer.

For Customer Enabled Employee Central

Defining Name Format

To adopting General Display Name, you’d need to define a name format firstly. For Employee Central customers, to use Name Format, Employee Profile, Generic Object and Name Format should be enabled in Provisioning. Please consult with your partner whether Employee Profile, Generic Object and Name Format are enabled in your instance. After defining and associating name format with People Profile or Legal Entity, system can follow definition of name format to concatenate employee name and display across SuccessFactors modules. If you expect to apply single Name Format for whole company, you’d choose associate Name Format with People Profile. If you expect to apply Name Format for specific Legal Entity, you’d associate Name Format with that Legal Entity. Procedure to define Name Format is as following.

  1. Go to Admin Center -> Manage Data.
  2. Input Name Format in the Create New field.
  3. Enter the details of your preferred name format in the Name Format CodeName Format DescriptionName Element and Alternative Name Element fields.
  4. Save your changes.


Configure Name Format

Above Name Format defines employee’s name should be concatenated as Preferred Name + Last Name and First Name is alternative of Preferred Name, if Preferred Name is empty First Name will be used instead. (For Preferred Name we suggest to change the label of it to “Chosen Name”)

Apply Single Name Format Globally

If customer expect to use a single Name Format for all employees and onboardees, you can associate Name Format with People Profile in Configure People Profile.

  1. Go to Admin Center -> Configure People Profile -> General Settings -> Choose Name Format.
  2. Select the name format you’ve prepared.
  3. Save your changes.


Configure Name Format in People Profile

Apply Name Format for a Legal Entity

If customer expect to use Name Format for employees and onboardees of a specified Legal Entity, you can associate Name Format with a Legal Entity. Before configuring Name Format, please ensure visibility of toDisplayNameFormat is configured as “Editable”


Configure Visibility of toDisplayNameFormat

The procedure is as following:

  1. Go to Admin Center -> Manage Data.
  2. Choose a legal entity that you want to assign the name format you prepared.
  3. Select the name format you’ve prepared from the Name Format for General Display dropdown.
  4. Save your changes


Configure Name Format for Legal Entity


Enable Adoption of General Display Name

There is an opt-in configuration in Company System and Logo Setting to enable usage of General Display Name across SuccessFactors, by default it is not enabled. Users who has permission to access to Company System and Logo Setting can enable it from there. For customer who has enabled Employee Central, a button “Refresh General Display Name” is available to recalculate General Display Name after configuration change, we will discuss it with more details later.

Enable Adoption of General Display Name

After Enable adoption of General Display Name is enabled and saved in Company System and Logo Setting. System triggers a migration job to concatenate General Display Name and persists General Display Name in DISPLAYNAME. The migration job may run for couple of minutes to hours depends on number of employees in system, The job can be monitored in Scheduled Job Manager. If Name Format hasn’t been associated with either People Profile or Legal Entity the format of message key COMMON_User_Display_Name of default language will be used to generate General Display Name and persist in DISPLAYNAME.

Refresh General Display Name

Employee Central customers who have updated configurations of general display name, for example, by changing the legal entity or the name format, must refresh general display name to trigger changes to the general display name. A HRIS Sync job will be triggered to refresh General Display Name The procedure is as following:

  1. Go to Admin Center -> Company System and Logo Settings.
  2. Click the Refresh General Display Name button right under the Enable adoption of General Display Name option.


Refresh General Display Name

Business Example

For example if a company has multiple Legal Entities, for Legal Entity in NetherLand, it is expected to show Initials of employee’s name and others should show employee’s chosen name  and last name. Accordingly customer can configure General Display Name as following:

  • Define Name Format 1 as Preferred Name + Last Name
  • Define Name Format 2 as Initials + First Name + Last Name
  • Associate Name Format 1 with People Profile
  • Associate Name Format 2 with NetherLand Legal Entity
  • Enable Adoption General Display Name in Company System and Logo Settings
  • Wait until migration job finished

For employee “Alexander Thompson” whose Preferred Name is Alex and isn’t in NetherLand Legal Entity, his name is displayed as following



For employee “Remco Doorn” whose Initial is RvD and is in NetherLand Legal Entity, his name is displayed as following


Show Initials

For Customer Does not Enable Employee Central

For customer doesn’t enable Employee Central, it is not available to configure Name Format and associate with People Profile or Legal Entity. As General Display Name is stored in a standard element of Employee Profile named as DISPLAYNAME, it can be imported by importing users with UDF. Import template can be downloaded from Employee Import. DISPLAYNAME is not configureable in import template.


Import Template

After import DISPLAYNAME you can enable Adoption of General Display Name in Company System and Logo Setting, then employee name imported in DISPLAYNAME will be adopted across modules of SuccessFactors.

Modules Support General Display Name

General Display Name has been supported by most of SuccessFactors modules including Learning, there are some exceptions such as a few admin UIs and features which employee’s legal name should be used. Please refer to Important Notes About General Display Name Adoption About details of module list support General Display Name



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      Author's profile photo Brandon Toombs
      Brandon Toombs



      Thanks for sharing this.


      Can you explain what has changed for EC? We had Name Format per legal entity before, had the general name format in the People Profile, and also had the setting in Company System and Logo settings (although it's going to be labeled differently now).   I'm sure there's something I'm missing! Or if we're just letting non-EC customers catch up to having name formats, that makes sense too.




      Author's profile photo HARVEY Xu
      HARVEY Xu
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Brandon,

      This feature is behind a configuration in Admin Center, it will shouldn't have impact by default. Name Format associated to Legal Entity is another association in Legal Entity name as "Name Format for General Display" which is not the original Name Format. General Display Name do reuse Name Form in People Profile, but it is compatible with original behavior after enable this feature. So shouldn't have impact to legacy behavior.



      Author's profile photo boopathi velusamy
      boopathi velusamy

      Hi Harvey,

      Thanks for the post, if we implement display name, will this be used in the tag [[SUBJECT_USER]] for workflow and EC alerts.


      Boopathi V

      Author's profile photo Cindy Wang
      Cindy Wang

      Hi Boopathi V,

      Yes, tag [[SUBJECT_USER]] for workflow and EC alerts supports display name.



      Author's profile photo Kelly Estrada Gordillo
      Kelly Estrada Gordillo


      Thanks for the information. We would like to change the name that the system shows for managers (employee's Job Information) and HR managers (Job Relationships portlet).

      Are we able to see this general display name in these portlets as well?



      Author's profile photo Jeff Otten
      Jeff Otten

      Kelly Estrada Gordillo , yes agree. We would like to know as well how preferred name can be made to appear in those portlets as well.

      Author's profile photo Amit Gupta
      Amit Gupta

      Hi Harvey,

      Thanks for the blog.

      I think you missed adding screenshot for employee “Alexander Thompson” in the blog. Please check and attach as it will help us understand the business example section better.

      Also, when I read about this functionality in 2H 2022, the first thought that came to my mind is what is the difference between Name format and General Display Name. I see Brandon Toombs have asked similar question above and you have answered that more in technical terms. Can you help us understand the difference between Name format and General Display Name more from a business prospective? In the end, as an implementation partner, I should be able to propose Name Format or General Name Display or Both to our clients based on their requirement.


      Amit Gupta