From delicious pasta at Julia's, croissants at AH to go or the best cup of coffee at Kiosk, NS Retail manages  stores at train stations across the Netherlands. 

It's no secret that employee turnover is high within retail. This is no different at NS Retail. To reduce this and increase employee engagement, NS Retail has recently launched the new strategy of their Stations App, an internal communication app for NS store employees.

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NS Retail Q&A - article

The Challenge

NS Retail has a high demand from travelers. At the same time, there is also high staff turnover. To continue serving travelers, it is important to retain staff and attract new employees. 

In early 2022, NS Retail conducted an employee survey in search of solutions. They found that the communication was viewed negatively on many fronts. It was said to be neither clear nor inspiring. For that reason, the role of Internal Activation Manager was created, filled by Tess Honders, since March 2022. The goal was to build a strategy for the already existing Stations App - the internal NS Retail name for Speakap - to improve employee engagement.

The Solution

For Tess, the first step was to identify the problem around communication. Feedback from stores was that too little information was being shared on the Stations App. Too often pieces of text were shared, causing employees to find the information uninteresting, making it difficult to retain.

The team applied this feedback. Texts became shorter and snappier, making it easier for readers to digest. Content was spread throughout the week so that something new could be shared every day. No more long texts. The team also introduced specific sections on specific days, so there is now recognition and variety of information. The goal: to increase employee engagement within NS Retail.

The type of information also changed. Instead of boring top-down messages, the sections focus on the daily experience of store employees. One of the most popular sections is a video series along stations in the Netherlands, in which employees share special stories about their experiences with travelers. This content is not only popular internally, but is used by HR for recruitment. 

Another popular column is the bi-weekly column by Retail Director Koen Sueters, who writes about both work and private life. For him, it is important to reduce the distance between the office and frontline employees. This keeps communication lines short, content transparent and employee engagement high.

NS Retail makes good use of Speakap's capabilities, especially the ability to create groups. To make content clear, employees are divided into groups that correspond to the organizational structure. Employees at the AH to go in Rotterdam are therefore in the groups 'Store employee', 'AH to go' and 'Rotterdam', so they only see content that is specifically relevant to them. This keeps the focus on employee engagement. Another successful tactic: win contests via the polls functionality. After all, everyone likes to win.

The Result: Employee Engagement Increases

On March 1, 2023, the new strategy went live and employee engagement is already growing rapidly. While retention and engagement stood at 15% and 6% in January, they were at 21% and 12% in April. The number of monthly users has also increased significantly, from 45% in January to a whopping 56% in April. 

Through Speakap's statistics dashboard, these data points can be seen right away, and monthly analysis per store is retrieved to keep track of KPIs.

With all these measures, Tess says the work is not done yet. After all, there is always room for improvement on employee engagement. Therefore, at the end of May there will be a major evaluation and the new feedback from employees will again be used as the basis for improvements.