L&T, Lengermann & Trieschmann, is a top address in German fashion retail. Insights and actions generated here in Osnabrück tend to attract the attention of the wider German retail sector. L&T has approximately 630 employees.
The company is especially keen to attract “responsible employees who actively use available opportunities for participation”, says the Head of HR Daniel Wessel. This particularly applies to questions related to staff scheduling.
“Employee trust has grown noticeably. They feel taken seriously because they can easily and effectively communicate with us and integrate their wishes, as well as partially manage and take care of any concerns themselves.”Daniel Wessel, HR manager L&T
L&T uses the Employee Service Portal (ESP), a solution that allows employees to enter or edit holiday applications, forgotten bookings, requests for time balance sheets or holiday status, and more, all online.
The web-based ESP was developed by SEAK Software, headquartered in Reinbek, as an employee self-service application for greater efficiency and employer attractiveness in retail. Employees can enter their own holiday requests, booking corrections and so on, for example, via their smartphones. The requests are approved by the manager and then automatically transferred to time management.
Daniel Wessel, Head of Human Resources at L&T, concludes: “The ESP enables self-organisation for our employees and thus fits perfectly with our company philosophy.”
Last but not least, the software helps to position L&T as a leading employer through incorporating modern technology, allowing for and encouraging participation, and by making planning processes transparent. “Employee trust has grown noticeably. They feel taken seriously because they can easily and effectively communicate with us and integrate their wishes as well as partially manage and take care of any concerns themselves.” According to employees, the tool’s most attractive feature is that it can be accessed from anywhere.
The ESP covers the following areas:
• Time recording
• Submitting requests
• Additional individual information (including the annual performance overview)
• Features relevant for staff scheduling (preferred working hours, actual working hours)
• Approval workflow for processing requests
• The ability to record reasons for decisions and
• to check the status of any submitted request
The portal is embedded in L&T’s staff scheduling application, which has been using SEAKproHR since autumn 2016. We asked the L&T Head of HR a few questions.
How did you decide to go for the SEAK IT solution?
Daniel Wessel: We looked at three systems. The decisive factor was the recommendation of a SEAK reference customer whom we know personally.
What sort of problems were you aiming to address by implementing SEAK software?
Wessel: Before implementing SEAK, we had to match employees for each shift individually, taking into account any specific restrictions or requirements on both sides. Each work shift needs to be staffed as well as possible in accordance with the type and time of day, as well as various other requirements. Now, we only need to ensure that each shift is manned with the optimal number of people.
Our staff scheduling is based on our needs. We could really shift our focus to planned sales. When making rough annual plans, we take into account hourly and staffing requirements over the course of the year, as well as considering seasonal fluctuations.
For the monthly plan, the system automatically makes suggestions for staffing all shifts, taking into account qualifications and functions of each employee. Making adjustments to the plan is really easy as well.
At what levels in the hierarchy is the software used?
Wessel: Beginning at HR management level, and downstream of that, it is also used by our three HR officers and finally at the level of team lead. There are 52 team leads who are each responsible for a planning zone and therefore cost centre.
What is working better now?
Wessel: Our employees are much happier. This is due to the fairer work schedules, as the software makes it particularly easy to assess fairness in this regard.
Have the contents of your communication with employees changed? Are there any topics that you are now able to discuss with them in a more differentiated manner since introducing SEAK?
Wessel: We can communicate the planned turnover as a driver of demand much more clearly and consistently than before.
Regarding the human element – how would you characterise working with the SEAK teams for sales, support, consulting and training?
Wessel: We receive swift support when we need it. It is my impression that the SEAK team is seriously invested in helping their customers in with any concern, which is something we do not take for granted. Fortunately, they also share our northern German humour.
Were you surprised by anything in your IT partnership with SEAK?
Wessel: Yes, the coherence and comprehensiveness with which the system implementation is carried out right through to specialised trainings.
Is there anything else you would like to see from SEAK in the future?
Wessel: The Employee Service Portal should definitely be developed further. In its approach it fits perfectly into our L&T DNA. We have also experimented with teams planning themselves, which did not work out well. However, we really appreciate software that supports the active participation of our employees, so we’d like to see even more of that.
Looking to the future: what are your further plans and ideas on the topic of staff scheduling?
Wessel: Many of our customers integrate a trip to L&T as part of their leisure time more and more often. As a result, Saturdays are becoming more important for sales. We need to account for this development more as we carry out our staff scheduling. Further, we will improve the quality control of our plans.
The company, founded in 1910, now has over 20,000 square meters of retail space, making it not only the largest fashion store in northern Germany, but also one of the largest owner-operated fashion stores in Europe. Their range includes around 500 brands, 120 of which are offered in specifically branded areas (shop-in-the-shop). The company also has two specialist clothing stores for larger sizes, a sneaker shop, a sports house, the “market hall” with gastronomy and a range of delicatessen, as well as an outlet. Openness to new trends, warmth in dealing with customers, and being grounded in regional traditions are values that are felt strongly in Lower Saxony.
We would like to thank Head of HR, Daniel Wessel for his time. This interview was conducted by retail journalist Bruno Reiferscheid.
Photos © Lengermann & Trieschmann