Training an entire new workforce in Croatia

99% of the 335 IKEA co-workers had never worked in an IKEA store before. But investments in education and values-based recruitment equipped co-workers with the tools to succeed.

Opening of Croatia store

The first IKEA store in Croatia opened in the capital city of Zagreb on 21 August 2014. The store now has 335 IKEA co-workers, 99% of whom had never worked in an IKEA store before. Building a large team from the ground up was a lengthy but rewarding process. “We needed to invest in education and values-based recruitment in order to equip co-workers with the tools needed to succeed. IKEA know-how can be taught. Values cannot,” says Georg Platzer, Store Manager, IKEA Zagreb.

The Human Resource team for IKEA Zagreb saw value in recruiting locally and building up the confidence of local people by providing jobs. And they were not short of candidates with 30,000 applications for the 335 available positions.

Ana Jospović, Human Resources Manager, IKEA Zagreb explains the process of finding the right people for the roles, “We needed a recruitment process that would help us discover candidates who were genuinely interested and excited by the way we work and our values. So we developed an online questionnaire, as well as discussion groups and interviews so we could really get to know people and whether they were a good fit. Then we looked at our different departments and how potential co-workers would add value to each area and work together to solve problems.”

Once selected, new IKEA Zagreb colleagues were given the same type of values training as IKEA co-workers experience all over the world – connecting the dots between the IKEA Concept, values and brand. Ana and the HR team found that new co-workers in the Zagreb store were very receptive. “Many of our new colleagues had been working in quite different organisational climates. The IKEA way of working was embraced with great enthusiasm and slight disbelief that a company exists in our region with these kinds of values.”

Nikola (Nick) Vidak, IKEA Food Manager, IKEA Zagreb talks about his experience of being a first time IKEA co-worker, and the benefits that a fresh perspective can bring. “Some people might be surprised by the fact that very few of us have never worked in an IKEA store before. But I see the positive side of not being burdened with a lot of IKEA experience. It helps us to challenge each other and do things differently.”

And what recruitment advice would Ana give to other IKEA organisations in new markets? “Plan in detail in order to deliver quality recruitment on time, and find your co-workers locally. Then set aside a good amount of time and resources for co-worker development and training prior to the store opening.”