Summary

For over 130 years, Albert Heijn has been the go-to supermarket for millions of people in Europe. With over 1000 locations and more than 80,000 employees, it has a continuous operational challenge — filling all of their vacancies across the country. For the majority of applicants, it’s their first time applying for a job.

Recruitment challenges were directly impacting the efficiency of store managers. Scanning CVs and scheduling interviews took time away from their core responsibilities and were driving time to hire to 20 days on average. Candidates were also quickly losing interest and dropping out of the application process. The entire experience was hurting the brand. After all, even rejected applicants today can be customers tomorrow.

With Harver, store managers have all of their candidates in one platform. With the tap of a button, candidates receive instant notifications and are automatically invited for an interview. Interviews are held within 24 hours of applying, which drastically reduces the overall time to hire. To improve the candidate experience, Albert Heijn now has offers applicants an engaging, mobile-first application process that provides them with a realistic job preview.

The results were clear: time to hire decreased by 40%.

“We were quickly losing candidates because we were not able to respond fast enough.
”

Martijn Ulehake Consultant Employer Branding, Albert Heijn

The Challenge

All of Albert Heijn’s 1000 stores are continuously searching for part-time employees that are looking for their first job. As for most retailers, recruitment is decentralized. In other words: it is the store managers’ responsibility to recruit all new employees. However, the hiring process takes precious time away from the store managers other core responsibilities. Instead of running the store, they are drowning in repetitive, admin tasks: screening applications, scheduling interviews, returning missed calls.

To add to the problem, candidates weren’t waiting around for Albert Heijn. The manual hiring process in stores was increasing time to hire to 20, sometimes even 30 days. During this long waiting period, candidates would often pass on the opportunity or in most cases be hired at a competitor’s store. Generation Z isn’t willing to wait long for responses and has plenty of other job options to consider.

Martijn Ulehake, Employer Branding consultant at Albert Heijn, decided it was time for change: “I knew that to source more candidates wasn’t a viable solution to our recruitment challenge. We were filling our recruitment funnel with new applicants, but losing them as soon as they had applied. The funnel was leaking.” Martijn set out to reform the application process by treating applicants as Albert Heijn was treating its customers: “When a customer shops at our online store, they expect to have their groceries delivered within 24 hours. We believe our candidates should get the same treatment.”

“We want to treat our applicants the way we treat our customers. We have to be able to offer them job security within a few days.”

– Martijn Ulehake, Employer Branding Specialist

The Objectives

Simply put, Albert Heijn wanted a better, more efficient experience for both candidates and store managers. The team outlined the specific areas they were looking to improve on:

1) Reduce time spent per hire
Starting at the root of the problem, Albert Heijn decided that they needed to make the process more efficient for their store managers – relieve them from repetitive, manual tasks and enable them to focus on managing the stores.

2) Reduce time to hire
The second objective was to reduce time to hire and offer faster job security for applicants. The inherently inefficient hiring process led to inconsistent communication with candidates throughout the hiring process and resulted in an unnecessarily long time to hire. This, in turn, led candidates to abandon their application at Albert Heijn.

3) Improve the candidate experience
Even when rejected, candidates would most likely be customers again the next day. So, the final objective was to offer an engaging, fun candidate experience that caters to the needs of the Gen Z.

The Solution

To achieve its objectives, Albert Heijn knew they had to digitally transform the entire recruitment process and they turned to Harver for support. With Harver, Albert Heijn was able to solve the challenge by focusing on key areas of the application process.

1) Empowering store managers
Erik Vermaire has been working as a store manager at Albert Heijn for over 40 years. As one of the first to work with Harver, he explains the new hiring reality: “When a candidate applies, I receive an instant notification. Upon opening the app, I see a complete overview of applicants including their matching scores. I only have to tap one button and the candidate receives a text message proposing a time for an interview. Harver schedules the interviews based on my availability, without me having to pick up the phone.”

2) Automating repetitive recruitment tasks
“Harver made a huge difference in speeding up our overall hiring process.”, Martijn Ulehake explains.

During the application, candidates provide basic information on their availability, specify their preferred location(s) and function(s), state the number of hours they are available to work on a weekly basis, run through a few Situational Judgment Tests and simply press ‘apply’.

“Previously it took around 20 or in some cases even 30 days to hire a candidate after they applied. Now, with automated scheduling, we have interviews taking place 24 hours after the application”.

“We’ve had an example where the applicant was still in front of his computer when he received an invitation for an interview.”

Automation technology enables Albert Heijn to respond faster, but the time to hire still depends on how quick a store manager reviews candidates. To motivate store managers to respond as soon as possible, the multi-location hiring feature comes into play. Applicants can choose to apply to multiple stores at once and whatever store manager shortlists the candidate first gets priority. Not until they’re rejected by one store, because of their availability for instance, will they be presented to the other stores as available candidates.

3) An engaging, mobile-first experience
Lastly, Albert Heijn sought to offer an experience catered to Generation Z. In most cases, Albert Heijn’s applicants are first-time job-seekers. They’re a digital-native generation whose expectations needed to be managed.

The entire application process takes 10 minutes.

Through the use of video, Situational Judgement Tests and a mobile-first application process, Albert Heijn now delivers a first-class candidate experience. Candidates get a realistic job preview in the form of interactive videos showcasing the day-to-day job so they know exactly what to expect.

What Applicants Say:

The Results

Empowered with the insights about candidates’ scores from the Situational Judgement Tests right from the start, hiring managers are able to make informed decisions about candidates. By automating laborious, repetitive tasks, Albert Heijn can hire faster, saving store managers countless hours in the process.

The overall time to hire was reduced by 40%. As many as 60% of candidates were hired within 10 days of submitting an application, fulfilling Albert Heijn’s goal of offering candidates job security as fast as possible.

Applicants themselves were very impressed with the new process, saying it has “become more personal”. The application took them a little more than ten minutes to complete and 98% of applicants completed it within a day.