Planet Organic improves team wellbeing
By Georgia Doyle
The first Planet Organic store opened its doors in 1995. As if predicting the major shift toward quality, organic foods and healthy living, founder, Renée Elliott, brought to life her dream of introducing a sense of discovery and adventure into food shopping.
Now, nearly 25 years later, the team at Planet Organic is once again an early adopter of another wholly modern movement: the flexible workforce.
Observing the pressure understaffing was placing on store managers, Head of HR, Nic Porter, implemented Catapult’s flexible workforce to free up manager time and reduce turnover, which was consequently on the rise.
Catapult, which looks after the recruitment, on-boarding, and engagement of its own experienced retail workforce, was deployed to help cut the time Planet Organic managers spent recruiting part-time staff.
Planet Organic discovered Catapult at a time when some of its stores had several vacancies for front-of-house roles.
“We got into a situation with a couple of stores … where team leaders were having to spend so much time on the shop floor they weren’t able to do telephone interviews. That had a knock-on effect and people were feeling overworked so they were leaving, which was a big thing for us.”
The average length of service for Planet Organic staff members is between 4 and 5 years, so it was important that in addition to reducing time spent on recruitment, Catapult would help maintain Planet Organic’s exceptionally high retention figures.
Planet Organic stores experience peaks based on their location (for example, Muswell Hill is situated in a residential area so tends to feel the after school rushes more than other stores). It was important that Catapult be flexible enough to allow store managers to tailor their usage.
Planet Organic use front of house staff to cover two distinct roles; sales assistants working on the shop the floor, sell specialist products, while the store’s food-to-go and tills sections are more straightforward service roles. Catapult was piloted in three Central London stores with its workforce covering 3- to 4-hour shifts in food-to-go and working tills.
By utilising Catapult staff to effectively cover intra-day peaks, such as the breakfast and afternoon rushes, the Planet Organic team was able to avoid adding a full-timer to the headcount.
“You’re splitting that role out by saying ‘Someone from Catapult can do the busy time from 7:30 to 11:30 in the morning and someone [else] from Catapult can do 4:00 until 9:00 in the evening, without having to hire that extra person.’”
With Catapult staff covering these peaks, Planet Organic saved money on recruitment (Porter estimates the cost of hiring team members is about £870 per person), and freed up time by reducing the number of roles they needed to hire for.
Furthermore, the Tottenham Court Walk store saw a nearly 50% reduction in staff turnover in the six months after implementing Catapult.
“One of the things we look for in people is product knowledge … but we argued that for the roles we’re using Catapult for they’re actually areas of the business where you need the least product knowledge. So with Catapult, just being able to select the smiliest, happiest, friendliest people, that’s actually what it’s all about at the end of the day.”