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Raising Standards, Reducing Shrink and Slashing Turnover in the Grocery Industry

The “Before” Picture

In late 2006, HiringSmart was retained to install their online selection process in the Eastern division of a large National grocery chain that operates 56 large format locations in four provinces. At the time, their most pressing problem seemed to be one of attraction. Nearly all locations were critically understaffed; some stores had such a hard time finding people willing to work nights that they had to perform all their third shift activities through the day while shoppers were in the store, resulting in operational nightmares. At the time, their approach to attracting and selecting talent was fairly conventional. Walk-ins were sent to Customer Service to complete an application and were often interviewed by a department manager and hired on the spot. The company had heavily advertised a number of job fairs in major metro locations at an average investment of $12,000 each, often hiring fewer than a dozen candidates.

Solved Attraction

HiringSmart’s first order of business was to build a multi-store hiring portal for each metro area, each with a unique URL. That address was promoted in each store; business cards were placed at Customer Service; the company flashed their URLs on advertising flyers and at the bottom of cash register tapes, and top performers were asked to invite their friends to go online for an interview.
The simple, inexpensive attraction strategies worked and went viral as people (the company’s main target was GenX and GenY, who spend considerable time chatting online) sent their friends to the sites. At the eight month mark, the company had a data bank of over 15,000 completed first interviews, without tying up a single minute of management time. By the two year mark, that number had swelled to in excess of 35,000, including over 200 management candidates, far in excess of what they had been able to generate through an expensive national Workopolis campaign.

Reduced Turnover

In a comparison of the first eight months using HiringSmart vs. the same period the year before, it is interesting to note that the client actually hired fewer people – and yet they were able to achieve full staffing for the first time ever.
Turnover was reduced from 51.9% to 29.9% in that same period, and further reduced to 20% at the eighteen month mark. More importantly, the profile of the turnover changed: in the eight months before HiringSmart, nearly half of all turnover occurred after the 60 day mark; with HiringSmart, the same proportion occurred in the first 30 days. Managers were no longer held hostage to poor performers, and moved more quickly to replace them.

Raised Standards, Attracted Better Quality

One of the big dividends for this client was that even as they asked more than ever before from candidates in terms of time invested in getting hired (remember, they went from a one-step process to a four-step process that required candidates to invest 20-25 minutes in an online interview and the same again later in the process to complete an online assessment of their attitudes towards Integrity, Reliability and Work Ethic), both the number and the quality of candidates they attracted went through the roof.

A conversation with Cory, a Halifax associate they hired through the HiringSmart process, is very telling of the candidate’s experience:

‘The online interview was cool. It asked me a bunch of questions I wasn’t used to, but they really made me think about what was important to me… it was hard to get hired here for sure. The standards are high. But now that I’m in, I feel like I really belong here. I feel kind of proud to be part of the team… and the people here are so much better than the losers I used to work with at [a major office supply retailer].  Here, people really care about getting the job done and doing the right thing for the customer.”

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