Loblaw Expects Benefits From Adding Full-Timers

Discussion
Oct 21, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

While most
chains in the grocery business continue to rely primarily on part-timers
to staff stores, Loblaw in Canada has made the strategic decision to
expand the number of full-timers it employs.

The company
recently announced plans to move 2,000 part-time
employees at its stores in the province of Quebec to full-time status.

“As our colleagues
are our best asset to constantly improve service to our customers and
are essential to the success of our company, we intend to increase significantly
the number of regular positions throughout our stores over the next 18
months,” Jocyanne Bourdeau, Loblaw’s executive vice president for the
Quebec market, told The Gazette of
Montreal.

Loblaw’s reputation
for being a solid employer was recently reinforced when it was named
the only grocery retail chain to make Canada’s
Top 100 Employers for 2010
. The list is intended
to recognize companies that seek to attract and retain talent in a positive
workplace environment.

The company’s
emphasis on training is seen as a plus for employer
and employees alike.

“In the 29 years I’ve been with
the company, I’ve had many opportunities to expand my knowledge and skill set
by taking advantage of Loblaw training programs and working in a number of
different areas of the business from operations, to procurement, to merchandising,” said
Mike Venton, senior vice president, produce, Loblaw Companies Limited, in a
press release. “Loblaw is a great place to work because of its ongoing commitment
to providing colleagues with the tools, training and support they need to succeed
in their roles.”

Discussion
Questions: What are the advantages and disadvantages associated with
having higher percentages of workers that are either full-time or part-time?
Do you see a trend to either more full-timers or part-timers at retail
in the years ahead? Is there a correct mix, in your opinion, at retail for a ratio of full-timers to part-timers?

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9 Comments on "Loblaw Expects Benefits From Adding Full-Timers"


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David Livingston
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

It all the depends on your business model. If all you need are downtrodden, tennis shoe wearing warm bodies like Walmart, then part-timers is the way to go. If you want to provide good customer service or cater to higher-income/higher-educated consumers, then most likely, to get the more motivated, better looking workers, you will need to offer full-time positions. Trader Joe’s might be an exception. They have been able to find highly motivated people for part-time work.

J. Peter Deeb
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

While full- or part-time employees can be very productive, the reality is that the company that people work for and how well they hire, train, and compensate their people has more to do with the quality of the employee than whether they work full or part time.

Having said that, I believe that full-time employees who have their livelihood tied to a company are typically more invested in doing a good job and delivering high-quality customer service. If Loblaw continues to be a very good employer, they will only benefit from this move.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 6 months ago

The urban legend here is that you will get more productivity and commitment from your full-timers. That is just that; an urban legend. I’ve seen full-timers with 20 plus years under their belt that are so bitter and unmotivated that they are actually costing the retailer money by working there (not to mention the effect on the entire team).

The ratio of FT to PT is really a business decision. If your peak hours are during the evening or weekends, obviously you want to have a team of top-notch part-timers that can exploit the traffic. Another danger is the assumption that full-timers receive 9 to 5 hours. You need your people when traffic dictates. The Loblaw I frequent has some great full-timers that I have seen work weekends and nights.

When working on hiring, I use the ‘right person at the right time’ mantra.

Dan Raftery
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

It depends on how the company views full-timers. Are they an asset or a liability? I firmly believe that shoppers can discern this corporate position by the way they are treated; by the employee attitude they encounter. Assets get trained and can be emissaries; liabilities get buyout packages and are not too quiet about their feelings on the way out.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
11 years 6 months ago

This can help Loblaw develop the organization and service levels, but managing retail is never easy–whether from a personnel or financial perspective.

Knowing that stores are busy evenings and weekends makes staffing a challenge. Hoping this move will keep experienced staff and store management more accessible during peak periods, and a longer-term commitment will help employees as well.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

In a business that is driven by pennies, being locked into full-time employees is a challenge. You have not only a higher average wage rate, but benefits typically drain profits further. This is a high-volume business too and not just in terms of product movement. Employee turnover will decrease with more full-timers, however, there are more attractive work environments, let’s not kid ourselves (this being said by an ex- long-time major supermarket manager).

I am personally OK with employee turnover rates that are in line with the industry. It keeps costs down, even when you factor in the cost of hiring, training, etc.

Roger Saunders
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

The U.S. is rapidly becoming a nation of “shopkeepers.” That’s a path that the U.K. followed post World War II.

History may not repeat itself but it often follows similar pathways. As the weaker “shopkeepers’ fall by the wayside, some smaller ones and some larger ones will move to fill the void. But it is likely that all will be more risk-averse, and look for “stability” in a wide variety of ways–one of them being the employee base.

Scott Knaul
Guest
Scott Knaul
11 years 6 months ago

The benefits of full-time vs. part-time are based on the business model that you run and the traffic patterns in your stores. A lot of times the FT vs. PT mix is different within the same company and it depends on the flow of traffic at individual locations. If you look at two specialty retail stores from the same brand in different locations they could have a vastly different traffic flow. If one has consistently huge spikes and valleys in traffic then a part-time mix better optimizes the schedule. If the other store has steady and even traffic throughout the day then a full time mix might be a better alternative.

After looking at your traffic flow and determining which mix is better to optimize your schedule, you have to consider training, turnover, and the cost of benefits to round out your model.

maurice fleury
Guest
maurice fleury
11 years 6 months ago

I am wondering if they are going to do this straight across Canada, not just in Quebec.

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