A Look Inside The Warehouse Group’s Purpose-Driven Employee Experience

Jenn Thomas

A massive business re-structure that impacted thousands of roles. A new initiative focused on agile work and internal mobility. The need to educate, engage, and excite an entire workforce. And … a pandemic
 

That’s what 2020 had in store for The Warehouse Group (TWG), one of New Zealand's largest retailers. What sounds like a recipe for disaster, however, resulted in an amazing story of success led by TWG’s Kim Nicholas, Chapter Lead of Talent Acquisition, and Ann Dane, Systems Integration of Talent Acquisition. 
 

Using Phenom Employee Experience to drive the transformation, Nicholas and Dane were able to meet countless challenges head on with strong communication, education, and engagement strategies — and exceed expectations for a more transparent and meaningful EX.  
 

With employee experience finally getting the widespread attention it deserves, you won’t want to miss the story they shared with us during our virtual IAMHR conference.  
 

A Closer Look at the Retail Giant’s Reorg Challenge
 


TWG is big — so big that 98% of New Zealanders are past or present customers, surveys show. It’s not surprising considering the retail giant, which owns 260+ stores across the country, represents numerous retail sectors across brick-and-mortar and e-commerce sites. 
 

Despite its size, the company is also well known for an enduring legacy of community-minded, customer-dedicated values. But to continue exceeding customer expectations and relevancy in an ever-changing retail world, TWG realized a change was needed: a shift toward a more agile way of work.
 

What came next was a major reorg for the 12,000-employee company. Teams were restructured and streamlined, many job titles were changed, and new roles were created. The transformation affected thousands of office support employees and employees across store networks. 
 

With such large-scale change and shifting business strategies, Dane and Nicholas knew they had to help TWG employees understand the journey of the business to facilitate adoption. And so, “We did three key things,” Nicholas revealed:

  • communicated in every way possible
  • educated continuously
  • elicited excitement about the upcoming changes 


The question you're probably asking: How?
 

Putting Communication First


Even with the best of intentions, change management is daunting — especially with so many employees in so many locations. In addition, the restructure would create 781 new job vacancies, which the TA team planned to promote internally. 
 

Luckily, TWG had already invested in Phenom Employee Experience, and used their new internal mobility and employee portal capabilities to launch a microsite that served as a one-stop shop for education and career information during the transformation. 
 

Even before the restructure took place, Nicholas and Dane made it their mission to inform employees of upcoming changes, and how the transformation would affect them. They knew engagement and buy-in would depend on full transparency. 
 

“Sometimes you might think in a restructure, ‘well, communication might come second.’ We actually wanted to put it first,” Nicholas said. “We communicated in every way, so that team members would know what to expect, right from the start.”
 


CASE STUDY: How Kuehne+Nagel built a scalable internal sourcing strategy
 

As the communication journey unfolded into the education piece of the strategy, the team used multiple channels and methods —  including virtual fireside chats with executives, town halls, recruitment 1:1 sessions for candidates, and panel discussions to help employees understand and adopt TWG’s new way of work. 
 

“We actually over-communicated, but that was the intent,” Nicholas said. “We really wanted to make sure they had one place to go for all the information, so that anywhere, anytime, they could just pop on and get the right insights.”
 

A One-stop Shop for Education, Internal Mobility & Support


“Educating the business was key to enhancing employee experience,” Dane revealed, echoing Nicholas’ sentiment. “We wanted to ensure all 1,200 team members in our store support office could find everything they needed to know.” 
 


Through Phenom, they streamlined information into one central content hub accessible through their employee portal. The 35-page microsite — which they aptly named the Agile Career Hub — gives employees access to a range of information and resources, and helps answer three vital questions:
 

What Is “Agile?" Employees needed to know the what and why behind TWG’s shift toward more agile processes. The hub’s homepage addressed this and gave a high-level look at the new business structure, explaining timelines and terminology. 
 

How Do I Fit In? In addition to educating employees on the shift toward agile processes, TWG wanted to show team members how to navigate new career paths and opportunities within the re-structured organization. 
 


Subpages provided an in-depth look at the major areas of the business, as well as the “tribe” and “squad” structures TWG designed as part of the re-org. The pages displayed team structure maps with headshots, information on team leads, videos and job descriptions, and were interlinked to promote easy, intuitive navigation. Staff could better understand how current positions might potentially change to fit into the new way of work, as well as see potential opportunities and qualifications.
 

“These were super-easy to be able to design and post up on the Phenom site,” Nicholas added.
 

Where Can I Get Support? TWG also wanted to provide general resources to promote wellbeing and resilience, especially considering the timing of the reorg during the pandemic. From helpful resume and interview advice to webinar videos detailing how the internal recruitment process would run, Nicholas and Dane knew that thoughtful content would be pivotal to users and their overall experience. 
 


What else is possible with Phenom EX? Check out MGM’s amazing alumni success story!
 

Proving Enthusiastic Adoption with Metrics


One of the top concerns of companies investing in employee experience? Whether it’s working. For TWG, that would be a resounding “Yes,” judging by the notable performance metrics they shared. 
 


Within the first two months of going live with their new EX platform, the team saw indications of both strong engagement and a user-friendly site across the 1,500 support office employees the platform was first made available to:
 

  • 1,400 new sign-ups in three days

  • 12,471 employee visits

  • 3,167 apply clicks to internal positions

  • 2,714 logins 

  • 97,767 total page views

  • 6+ minutes average time on site


Better yet, the success has been ongoing, with 82% of visits to the internal mobility site made by returning users.
 

Key Attributes For Success
 


What should companies facing similar challenges and initiatives keep in mind to mirror TWG’s successful engagement and adoption of internal mobility technology? According to Nicholas and Dane, three elements are key:
 

  • Single platform. The power of a one-stop shop can’t be overemphasized. The ability to use a single platform to accommodate all EX related needs (as well as one that streamlines the entire talent experience including CX, RX and MX) creates an invaluable, seamless journey for employees that simultaneously educates and empowers.
     

  • Over-communication. As long as your content is organized and easily accessible, the more information, the better. Give employees the option to drill down into as many details as they need to understand org structure, available opportunities, and skill requirements so they can make educated decisions regarding their future career growth. 
     

  • Ongoing partnership. TWG was able to rely on Phenom customer support to pave the way to a smooth implementation. Especially appreciated? Phenom’s daily efforts to gain a full understanding of TWG’s needs and goals — which will continue in the form of optimizations, expansion opportunities, and continued adoption support as their usage evolves.
     

Despite its size, TWG’s purpose is simple: Helping Kiwis live better every day. Judging by their employee experience, it’s clear they’re doing exactly that for their people. 
 


See what Phenom Employee Experience can do for your most valuable assets — Get a demo today!