Ahold is an international food retailing group with more than 220,000 employees, operating in the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and the United States.

Ahold conducts an annual survey among all employees in all operating countries. The survey’s aim is to measure employee engagement against Ahold’s core business aspects, its ‘better every day’ promises, and to understand how to improve engagement on those. Ahold seeks to receive feedback and score the satisfaction of its employees in areas such as:

  • Customer value proposition
  • Working conditions and fair treatment
  • Job satisfaction and engagement
  • Corporate responsibility
  • Company strategy

The survey also includes open text boxes for suggestions. A third party conducts the survey and results are tracked per department, business and at group level. Ahold publicly reports a group level engagement score on an annual basis in its CSR report. In 2015 88% of the total workforce responded to the survey, compared to 81% in 2014 and the overall engagement score was 68%, which is equal compared to 2014.

Ahold has experienced several challenges with its survey:

Ensuring that the questionnaire is aligned for the whole of the business so that answers are comparable

Over time Ahold has aligned the questions and today has an identical survey for all businesses in place.

Having computers available for all associates working in its stores and distribution centres to complete the online survey

Ahold granted its employees time to fill in the survey on the central store computer.

Motivating employees to complete the survey

Ahold reiterated the importance of the survey to its employees, but more importantly demonstrated that it takes the responses seriously by implementing and communicating improvement programmes and outcomes.

The survey also offered a number of opportunities to Ahold. The company recently established a human resources analytics team with capabilities in the fields of industrial psychology, organisational behaviour, finance, statistics and computer science, which helps the company to:

  • Strengthen the company fs overall human resources strategy.
  • Provide store-level advice on human resources topics and on how to improve employee engagement.
  • Support company decision making by combining data from the employee engagement survey with other data sources, e.g. customer or performance data.

Data combinations that the team analysed include engagement levels and leadership attributes; engagement levels and store performance indicators (such as absenteeism or sales); and insights from the open text boxes and store characteristics.

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    An investor guide to engaging retailers on employee relations

    December 2015

How to engage retailers on employee relations