Case Willy’s: How the Swedish company succeeded in onboarding with measurable results

The Swedish company proved that successful staff onboarding can be measured – both in hard cash and in staff’s wellbeing.

”Attracting and recruiting capable and efficient employees is the whole industry’s and Willy’s largest challenges ahead. Motivating your employees to stay and develop at your company will be more important than ever. Willy’s has, with its 200 stores spread throughout the whole country of Sweden, a huge challenge to support all new employees with an onboarding that lives up to the standard we consider is required and necessary to meet that challenge”, says Annika Devert, HR Manager at the Swedish retail company Willys.

Willys is part of the Axfood Group. Axfood is Sweden’s second biggest retail group and Willys has around 7500 employees. In 2017, they wanted to launch a pilot project for the summer staff and see if the company could measure the project’s results in hard cash.

”The question we asked was this: how can we support our summer employees when they start working at Willys? The Willy’s store employees face the the customer almost every minute of the day and are expected to create the best customer experience every day by caring for the customers, for the store and for each other. That is what the new employees needs to be engaged to do and execute from the first day. The onboarding program needs to get them ready for that -almost even before they start their first day at work.”

Successful onboarding is built on the needs of the employee

To tackle these challenges, Willys launched a digital pilot onboarding project using Promote (www.promoteint.com). The project was facilitated by Induction, which represents to the same international Learning transfer network as Rema Partners.

”The best people to ask what new workers need is the new workers themselvers. We invited some of our young and recently employed employees to a workshop to find out what is important for them before entering their first day at work. The main and very important result was that it’s the small things that matter and makes the summer worker feel secure. Summer workers wanted to know things such as: can I bring my own lunch, when do I get my first salary, can I use the toilet during the workday, who are my new co-workers, what kind of shoes shall I wear and other practicalities.”

Based on these worker-orientated findings, Willy’s build the onboarding programme together with Induction and Willy’s own line managers.

”Onboarding needs to bring real value. This means that all the nice but unnecessary things should be left out,” Annika emphasizes.

The astonishing results benefited both the business and the staff

Willy’s set measurable goals for the digital onboarding project to evaluate whether it was a profitable and effective way for the summer workers to enter the company.

”Our sick leave costs had increased during the summers of 2015 and 2016. Our goal was to lower that by a half. We also wanted to ensure that the summer workers would be productive faster and their managers could spend less time in their introduction.”

The results of the onboarding program were even better than expected.

”Sick leaves diminished in the summer 2017 and almost met our original goal, saving 308.000 SEK. The cost for sickleave are 25 öre lower per working hour in the stores that took part in the pilot, and if we add that up to all working hours, it means we have a cost saving of 2 MSEK.”

The onboarding project also boosted productiveness and saved time. Even 74% of the store managers claimed that the summer employees were productive faster than before and that they saved time spent on introducing them. Because of this, we saved another 523.000 SEK,” Annika says.

The project also benefitted the business as a whole. The sales went up with 5,1% during the summer 2017 - compared to 2016.

”If only 0,1% of that come from a higher engagement and effectiveness from the summer workers that would be 370.000 kr.”

To sum up, the onboarding project was a success – it saved time, costs and added value to the company’s brand.

”The best way to measure the success of an onboarding program in the organization is to plan clear goals and decide on how to measure them with the company’s decision makers.”

Want to know more about successful onboarding? Annika will be visiting Finland for the first time on 10th of April of 2019, in a morning seminar that is held exclusively for HENRY members. Sign up and read more here: https://www.henry.fi/tapahtumat/tulevat-tapahtumat/case-willys-how-the-swedish-company-succeeded-in-onboarding-with-measurable-results-webinaari.html

Annika Devert is brought to Finland by the Finnish Learning Transfer company, Rema Partners. The company specializes in Onboarding, Leadership and Sales. Read more about Rema Partners: http://www.rema.fi/