Hearts and minds the key to  Sabis employee engagement strategy

Sabis is a rare bird. Despite fierce competition from ICA, Coop and Axfood, they continue to go their own way – a path where relationships and values ​​outweigh numbers.
How is that? And what is the secret behind their high eNPS?
– We think long-term and live as we learn, says Ingalill Szabela, HR manager.

"Relationships are more important than calculations". The expression comes from Claes Andersson, Sabis owner and CEO until 2010. Claes is today a senior advisor, but his words are still highly relevant. For Caroline Cederblad and Madeleine Brehmer, who lead Sabis today, the vision is not to be the biggest. It is to deliver Sweden's best customer experience in food and meetings. To succeed in that relationships are absolutely central.

– Our vision means that we invest in quality and fill everything we do with a lot of heart, says Sofie Östedt, HR partner.

She admits that the last part may sound too good to be true, but is  something that is actually confirmed when new employees share why they like to work at the company: "It was just like you said it would be".

Sabis currently has five grocery stores, 22 restaurants, ten cafés, and five hotel and meeting facilities. A sprawling mix? Maybe it is. At Sabis, however, the diversity of business is seen as a strength.

Many of those who have worked with us for a long time (and there are many ) know that we value our relationships. They also know that this has led to several long-term business relationships , says Ingalill Szabela, HR manager. Decisions come from our core values ​​which are very strongly rooted in all parts of the organization. 

Sabis 3 basic values:

  1. Always satisfied customers
    "Everyone at Sabis influences the customer's experience. With us, the customer receives a friendly welcome from a happy and pleasant employee. Every customer must always be satisfied and want to come back."
  2. Responsibility
    “Our efforts are crucial to the results. That is why we show professionalism, responsibility, and loyalty to Sabis' goals and policies. ”
  3. Respect
    “We have great respect for the customer, for each other, and for our environment. With honesty and team spirit, we are good ambassadors for Sabis.”

Living up to your values at all the time can have its challenges. At Sabis, it falls back on the principle of safeguarding its customer relationships and being sensitive to customers and clients. In practice, this may mean that the economy is not always at the center of all decisions. The best thing for the business can sometimes be something else.

– I think this makes many employees feel that there is a genuineness in our decisions. We live as we learn and always have the customer at the top of the agenda, says Ingalill Szabela.

guide english

At Sabis, employees are the crucial link to the customer experience and to the business itself. Putting power behind issues that have to do with employees is therefore not an emotional decision. It's passion and business combined. The employee focus has made Sabis succeed in building a strong sense of belonging and a high level of engagement.

We have had a high employee index for a long time and are not surprised that the employees are happy with us and that they like their managers. When we started measuring our eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) more properly in &frankly, and got the result 45, we were so happy to learn that the average for eNPS is 10 in Sweden, says Ingalill Szabela.

sabis eng image in text

Security, care, and a large portion of self-determination, these are some of the things the employees at Sabis appreciate about their job. And it is through the managers out in the organization that this emerges. Five years ago they developed an educational program called I am the customer experience. It has boiled down all the values ​​of what it actually means to take responsibility, to constantly want to get better and the importance of having your own motivation. But I am the customer experience is not a product that comes from HR. Instead, Sabis did as they always do: they involved the managers.

– Leaders know best what their team and their customers need. When they have prepared the educational material themselves, it becomes so much easier for them to go out and promote it with their employees, says Sofie Östedt.

Sabis has been doing pulsed measurement since February 2019. The reason they choosed &frankly was because of its simplicity. Createing questions aswell as answer questions goes fast. Also, the results come immediately. The last part is something that has been particularly liked by both managers and employees.

– Everything goes rapidly in their world and that the result come so close to the measurement is great, says Sofie Östedt.

In addition to three question packages that HR sends out (leadership, customer experience and systematic work environment), it is up to the leaders themselves to use &frankly as it suits them and the business. 

– We are careful to mandate that leaders follow up on the results. You can measure as much as you like, but if you do not capture the employees' opinions, it is a waste, says Ingalill Szabela.

Sabis 3 tips for those that use pulsed measurements:

  1. Send out fewer questions and pulses
    “Do not start with too many pulses at once. Take it step by step and make sure you have time to get feedback. ”
  2. Take action directly
    "Capture the results as soon as possible run workshops and feedback sessions."
  3. Create your own questions with your own language
    "We look a lot at other questions in &frankly's library and then redo the questions to suit the language of Sabis. In this way we can use the same concepts as we have in I am the customer experience in our pulsed measurements."

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Kristofer Sandberg

Kristofer Sandberg

Brand Content Manager. Believe in the power of pen and paper, but having difficulties reading my own notes.

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