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For those who don’t know Retail Zoo, they’re the ones who own big time Aussie success stories Boost Juice, Salsas Fresh Mex and CIBO Espresso.retailzoo1-e1413851102708

With hundreds of stores across Australia, Retail Zoo, like most businesses in retail and hospitality, have a high demand for staff.

Many of these staff are casuals or part-time due to the nature of the work, which means high-turnover, seasonal peaks in business and a constant need for fast, effective recruitment and onboarding processes. Part of their secret is, of course, their expert use of HROnboard to onboard employees, but there’s more to the story than software.

We recently interviewed Melissa Kokai, HR Advisor for Retail Zoo, to hear her tips and tricks for employee onboarding in the challenging retail & hospitality space.

Onboarding challenges in retail

What sort of people do Retail Zoo hire?

MK: The demographic of people that Retail Zoo hire at store level tend to be in the 16 – 35 age bracket.

Many of them are school-aged or in university and our brands offer the casual/part-time employment that is ideal for them at that stage of their lives.

What’s challenging about onboarding for your industry specifically?

MK: The volume of new hires we have (especially in the lead up to Christmas & Summer) means that we can very easily lose track of the status of new hires.

Paperwork would be the most challenge aspect of recruiting for the retail & hospitality industry.

What was the problem with your old onboarding process?

MK: The biggest problem we faced in our old onboarding procedures was the time that it took to get the paperwork to the new hires.

We have a widespread work-force all over Australia and posting new starter paperwork to places like Perth (as the Retail Zoo Support Centre is in Melbourne) meant that it could be 2 weeks between sending the new starter paperwork to the new hire and receiving it back.

This meant that a new hire who is so excited to join us will have needed to wait up to a couple of weeks to begin their first shift as no one could begin working until all paperwork had been returned.

Re-inventing the Retail Zoo onboarding process

How did you start looking for an onboarding solution?

MK: As we had an Applicant Tracking System, we wanted to make sure that the onboarding solution we chose would be compatible.

We did start to investigate an all-in-one solution but thought it would be best to have a best-in-breed solution.

What were you looking for?

MK: We were looking for a solution that streamlined the onboarding process, reduced the cost in printing & postage as well as time spent in creating paper new hire packs.

We were also looking for a solution that made Retail Zoo more professional and would give the first impression that we wanted our new hires to have. Our business is tech-savvy with Apps for each brand and we wanted our new recruits to experience a better first impression of our brands like we offer to our customers.

Another factor we were looking for is an onboarding solution that integrated with our payroll system (Chris21).

Why did you choose HROnboard?

MK: HROnboard ticked all of the boxes for what we considered non-negotiables – it provided an easy, professional interface, and we were able to integrate logic in the back-of-house setup which made the payroll system integration seamless and error-free.

It was also great that HROnboard provided individual portals depending on the brand the new hire was joining as each of [the Retail Zoo] brands are unique and have their own look and feel.


The new onboarding experience

What does the new HROnboard onboarding process look like?

MK: The new HROnboard onboarding process is professional and has brought the Retail Zoo HR / Onboarding team into the 21st century!

The portals are fully branded for each of our brands and provide a wealth of information to our new hires – this includes our Welcome Booklets for each brand and Position Descriptions.

This allows area new starters to gain a lot of knowledge about our company prior to starting work.

What’s the difference for your new hires?

MK: Other than that there is no longer a time delay for postage of paperwork, the new hires’ first impression of joining our brands is the biggest difference in having HROnboard.

There is little room for error in accepting their offer & completing their paperwork and it is also very easy for new hires to contact us with any questions they may have about their employment.

What’s the difference for those sending and receiving offers?

MK: For contract generation HROnboard has reduced the amount of time spent in creating contracts as well as printing, putting together & posting out new hire paperwork.

It also means that there’s no risk of mail being delayed/lost. For new hires receiving offers, HROnboard means that between being offered a job and receiving all their paperwork is only (at most) a few hours away!

This means that excitement levels for the new hire don’t decrease and we can keep our excited newbie engaged!

What’s next for the Retail Zoo team?

MK: The next phase for our team for HROnboard is giving our Store Managers access to creating their own contracts, this will allow them to have more autonomy of the onboarding process and remove HR (to an extent) of being the middleman.

The plan is to have our HR team to be only a reviewer for any contracts to be sent out.


Despite the challenges, it’s an exciting industry – and we’re all happy for HROnboard to be a part of it!

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