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Ocado is one of the UK’s most successful and dynamic online retail businesses and they are pioneers of the online grocery market. Established in 2000, Ocado have changed the way that we all receive our weekly shopping. They originally partnered with Waitrose in October 2000, before growing to work alongside some of the world’s leading grocery companies today.

The challenge

Ocado approached HG in 2017 after completing their fourth fulfilment centre (CFC) and presented us with the challenge of reviewing all four of these centres to ensure that they were fit for purpose in terms of their future recruitment strategy. Ocado needed assurance that they were well positioned to meet the expected high demand for each of these key centres. Their primary objectives were:

  • Create a joined-up approach on agency labour across all CFCs to help facilitate growth and develop strong recruitment and retention strategies in line with the Ocado People Plan. They were essentially looking to recruit Personal Shoppers.
  • Utilise stringent KPI management focusing on retention and attrition.
  • Minimise risk of change at peak times and to facilitate a smooth transition in terms of additional supply.
  • Reduce attrition through strong recruitment and selection whilst improving onboarding and training processes for all staff.

Ten specialist recruitment companies, including HG Recruitment Solutions, were invited to tender the supply of 50 candidates to the operating centre in Hatfield. HG were delighted to be selected and to be able to harness our extensive expertise in this area.
We were required to work under a robust Service Agreement with ongoing reviews of detailed management and KPI requirements.

Throughout this process, HG worked alongside another agency to deliver peak requirements at Ocado’s legacy site. This would later lead to a further tender for the operating centre in Erith.

Our Approach

Our initial priority with Ocado was to start building a strong working relationship, supplying a stream of new starters from our established local pool, and reaching the 50 candidates in just three weeks.

We were quickly re-selected for the next stage of the tender process, which involved working alongside Ocado to supplement interviewing and onboarding procedures. This involved introducing an on-site team and trainer to the operating centre. We used HG’s experience to focus on reducing the intensity of induction and onboarding processes during the critical peak times to ensure success for our Ocado partners.

We held daily and weekly planning meetings to understand Ocado’s pressure points throughout the recruitment process and allocated our team accordingly whilst also working alongside the Ocado HR team in an agile way to create an innovative new worker handbook.

HG additionally oversaw KPI’s among all new starters and worked with the Ocado team to maximise employee engagement, whilst recognising and rewarding staff achievements.

Our successful solution

HG achieved a sharp decline in attrition by working closely with Ocado throughout the tender process. Our experienced team provided a reliable pool of personal shoppers, whilst managing their rotas to achieve this successful outcome.

Our onsite team and trainers were able to utilise their warehouse management experience to use a hands-on approach when leading their teams, allowing for an accurate analysis of staff performance. Their presence, along with the introduction of a new buddy system, also helped improve KPI productivity site-wide and improved both the motivation and earning potential for the workers themselves. We worked closely with Ocado’s senior management to develop and apply KPIs that focused on their key client objectives.

We executed Ocado’s induction processes and focused on correcting performance issues, whilst reinforcing core values with every employee, which helped to reduce training costs and attenuation.

By hosting daily, weekly, and monthly planning meetings, we obtained a constant view of client demands and workload, which allowed for dynamic rota planning.

Customer success is a key driver for HG and so we asked for continuous feedback and review meetings prior to any issues arising. This agile approach enabled us to adapt and flex our workforce when needed. We sent out quarterly surveys to measure worker satisfaction and to facilitate our continuous and holistic improvement approach.

Our partnership with Ocado today

Today we are proud to continue our work with Ocado based on that successful initial project 7 years ago. We worked closely with Ocado throughout the pandemic to constantly adapt our recruitment strategy as the landscape changed, raising flexible worker numbers at peak times as required.

Our agile, collaborative approach allows us to integrate with our key partners through meaningful communication and to provide multi-skilled, diverse, and inclusive workplace solutions to meet the ever-growing demands of this highly successful organisation.