With 25,000 employees in stores across six states, Wawa has journeyed far from its roots two centuries ago initially as an iron foundry and textile mill, followed by dairy farming and later as a home milk delivery service.
Recently voted America’s favorite convenience store, Wawa needed a powerful workforce management solution to not only manage its aggressive growth plans, but also reflect the company’s corporate mission, which is to fulfill lives every day – customers and associates alike. The company turned to SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics to meet the demands of a workforce estimated to reach 30,000 across 1,000 stores during the next three to five years.
At the recent SuccessConnect 2015 event in Las Vegas, Marc Maiolino, Manager of Workforce Planning and Performance Management at Wawa, shared the company’s ‘purposeful path’ to strategic workforce planning.
“We’ve never had this kind of tremendous growth, and knew we needed workforce planning and analytics to continue fulfilling the pool of talent to support our expansion,” said Maiolino. “We’re taking a slow but purposeful path to strategic workforce planning. We have to provide our leadership with the right data to make the right human capital decisions faster, use our resources to maximize returns, and understand current and future workforce needs. We’re focused on solving business problems, not people problems.”
Simplifying Data for Faster Business Insights
Wawa has replaced paper-based, siloed spreadsheets with centralized analytics that deliver one single source of truth across all departments, including executive leadership, retail store management, learning and development, and talent acquisition. What’s most important is simplifying the data for direct relevance to the business.
“We talk to all of our business partners and say ‘you have a problem and let’s solve this business problem together.’ We don’t just generate a report. We tell the business story that it represents. We do the analysis because we want our retail managers to spend every moment with the customer that they can,” said Maiolino.
Wawa provides monthly and quarterly reports, as well as changing audits based on business needs. In one example, the team conducted an analysis of employee transfer rates by position to better understand instability in some store teams. An in-depth review of store management by region and position revealed high transfer rates among certain positions in particular regions, prompting a larger performance management discussion.
Similarly, when an analysis of associates who left the company voluntarily revealed a high correlation between employees with a tenure of under three months and below the age of 30, Wawa doubled down to pinpoint the problem areas and find a solution using SAP InfiniteInsight.
“We used predictive analytics to find the trigger between the numbers of hours someone worked linked to high risk of departure from the company,” said Maiolino. “We found the danger zone is seven to 16 hours per week. We also looked at days employed and found the first 30 to 45 days are critical. If we could get them to 39 days, their probability of staying one year dramatically rose.”
As a result of these analyses, Wawa educated their managers on the importance of new-hire scheduling and hours per week worked. The company plans to revisit recruitment, onboarding, training and other engagement practices to ensure employees received the full cultural immersion. Wawa also began keeping assistant managers working in one store longer to let them learn their store’s processes and customer base. Maiolino estimated potential cost savings of over $1 million per year as a result.
Predictive Analytics Changes Everything
Co-innovating with SAP SucessFactors Workforce Analytics, SAP InfiniteInsight and Talent Analytics, Wawa plans to build models to predict employee performance and reduce turnover. The objective is to use data for targeted problem identification and fast resolution by region, store or position level.
“Now we can talk about leadership and what direction they’re taking,” said Maiolino. “We can find out the attributes of associates who will survive and predict future career paths. I’m especially excited about finding out what this does to our sales and customer satisfaction levels.”
Maiolino shared specific lessons learned for companies intent on moving to strategic workforce planning.
“You need leadership alignment and support, data accuracy and integrity, and to encourage transparency,” he said. “Be sure you’re solving business problems, not people problems, and call it like you see it. You will not always be everyone’s favorite, and be prepared to hear ‘so what, why and can you?’ You will not have one catch-all solution and technology doesn’t have all the answers.”
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