Decathlon’s Inspiring Recruitment And Employee Retention Methods

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160701 b2b - article - Decathlon's Inspiring Recruitment And Employee Retention Methods

A pervasive challenge for companies operating in Cambodia, whether they are big multinational corporations or small or medium-sized businesses, is bringing the right people into their team. A shortage of specialised professionals and technical skills in a variety of fields, coupled with what many foreign recruiters consider a lack of “soft skills” in the local workforce, make recruitment an uphill battle for most companies.

But the battle doesn’t end once you’ve found the right person for your team. Retaining those valuable employees that you worked so hard to find may not be easy: they might be promptly lured into the ranks of your competitors at the prospect of a higher salary.

In an bid to learn more about successful recruiting and employee retention strategies, B2B turns to Decathlon, a leading international sports product creator and retailer known for its creative approach to recruitment and its distinctive company culture.

Recruiting personalities

Decathlon Cambodia bases its recruitment strategy on one core principle: finding the right personality is key. “More than competencies, we recruit personalities,” says Guillaume Cutuli, country manager for the French sporting goods giant.

ID-Guillaume-Cutuli
Guillaume Cutuli, Decathlon Cambodia

Cutuli—who has worked for Decathlon for over six years in Tunisia, France, and, lastly, Cambodia—says that he looks for certain traits in the personality of a candidate, such as intelligence, decision-making ability, willingness to take initiative and team spirit. “If they have these abilities and the willingness to learn, their background is not so important for us, as we can train and develop them later,” he says.

Candidates that show an innate ability to adapt to new environments and who are good listeners are favoured. Ultimately, the goal is to find a good fit for the team, rather than a strong, stand-alone member. Creative personalities that can actively shape strategies and contribute ideas is what Cutuli is after.

Creative recruitment

The uniqueness of Decathlon’s recruitment methods make them worthy subjects of study, particularly for companies with high turnover that constantly struggle to attract and retain the talent they need.

Decathlon Cambodia recruits new talent by harnessing the power of social media, and throwing some creative recruitment concepts into the mix. When some positions opened at Decathlon Cambodia at the beginning of the year, they began the recruitment process by creating a video to explain to prospective candidates the profile they were looking for and to showcase Decathlon’s company culture. The video surpassed 65,000 views on Facebook, and attracted a multitude of interesting and dynamic personalities.

Candidates were then told to create their own 1-minute “selfie video” to explain what makes them the right personality to join the Decathlon team. They were encouraged to be as creative as possible in the making of the video and to stand out. The videos submitted were uploaded on YouTube. Candidates were then told to share their videos on Facebook and Twitter: up for grabs was a sleek smartphone to be awarded to those videos that attracted the highest number of “likes”.

Based on the selfie videos and the CVs submitted by the candidates, 25 people were selected to join “Recruitment Day”, a collective recruitment event in which the candidates and the recruitment team came together to interact in a series of sports and team activities. “The objective was to see how the candidates interact in group, and create an environment where they can be themselves, and express their ideas,” says Cutuli. At the end of the day, the best candidates were offered a position with Decathlon on the spot.

Retaining and developing your staff

Although Cutuli believes salary will always be a determinant factor in an employee’s decision to remain in or leave your company, he believes that other factors are also at play. Having a strong and appealing company culture and investing money in the development and personal and professional growth of employees are also key to retaining them.

For Decathlon, believing in your staff and developing your employees is an essential part of the business strategy. “If you put your staff first, they will give back to the company,” Cutuli says. Indeed, the company culture of Decathlon is built upon this very idea. “Our motto is employees first, customers second,” acknowledges Cutuli.

Decathlon provides two types of training to its staff. Technical training is important, but so is what Cutuli calls “soft skills training”, in which employees hone their communication, functional management and time management abilities.

The trainings are conducted by internal instructors from different countries around the world where Decathlon is present. Part of the training is also done abroad, which gives the opportunity to meet and share trade tips with colleagues from around the world.

Decathlon’s recruiting and employee retention strategies may seem unorthodox to some, however, the huge success that the French firm has garnered around the world is strong indication that we can, and should, learn from them. Lying the emphasis on finding the right fit for your team during the recruitment process, and screening candidates by assigning unusual tasks in which they have to make full use of their creativity—such as the “selfie video” challengeare methods that have worked for the French multinational, but that could also prove useful to your company.