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Case study: How IKEA avoids miscommunication among staff



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Togetherness is an integral part of the IKEA culture.

As such, IKEA has several programmes in place to allow staff to interact with each other to build rapport to better understand each other.

Using a co-worker welfare budget, the management of each business unit facilitates various activities (both formal and informal) to nurture togetherness.

These activities include department/management outings (up to three times a year), social activities (such as informal get-togethers, social days and family day outings), learning and development activities (trainings and workshops with a certain level of team building activity) as well as business plan kick-off meetings which include a fun activity for employees (local and overseas) to get to know each other.

These programmes fall under the general co-worker welfare framework (which includes budgets and guidelines for team building) which is owned by the rewards team in HR. This framework then becomes the responsibility for the management team of each business unit to integrate into their teams.

In order to allow every employee to have a chance to attend the event, IKEA tries to work around the business operations and at times, splits the outings into two sessions.

“A happy, friendly and cohesive workforce naturally translates to better business results and customer experience on the sales floor. Hence, as far as possible, we take care of our co-workers’ needs and provide a platform or opportunities for building team collaboration and togetherness which reflects our IKEA culture,” says Lydia Song, human resource director for IKEA Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The most recent addition to the regular team building activities IKEA has is the social day outing. Added by the sustainability team, the activity brings together co-workers across the organisation for a good cause – building furniture for an orphanage, cleaning up coastal areas, planting trees and more.

The programme has been implemented because the organisation is aware its employees are directly impacted by their work environment.

As these activities are generally appreciated and supported by the management, the challenge does not lie in setting up the event or getting employees to attend the event, but rather in getting everyone together at the same time due to the nature of the retail business environment.

In order to allow every employee to have a chance to attend the event, IKEA tries to work around the business operations and at times, splits the outings into two sessions.

As a result of these programmes, staff are happier, operations are smoother and less miscommunication can be seen, along with a positive impact on the business such as better sales, happier customers and lower staff turnover.

To measure and quantify employees’ satisfaction in the organisation, IKEA uses an annual VOICE survey which all its staff participates in.

On a more informal level, the organisation measures the success of its team building by the number of smiling faces, the general atmosphere in the office, laughter among the team members and how often staff go for lunch together.

For more case studies from SCIEX, Grey Group, foodpanda and Singapore Airlines, and tips to create your very own team building programme, head over to the Human Resources’ January-February feature

Image: Shutterstock



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