StepStone Solutions’ e-recruitment relieves WHSmith‘s store managers of heavy recruitment burden and enhances its employer brand


WHSmith, one of the UK’s best known retail brands, has begun to implement a new e-recruitment solution from StepStone Solutions.

With a large number of seasonal and non seasonal jobs to fill, efficient recruitment is important for WHSmith‘s 750+ store managers. But relying on manual, paper-based processes meant that recruitment of the 4-6,000 new staff needed each year was taking up too much of their time. The retailer selected StepStone Solutions’s e-recruitment technology to help it solve this problem after a full evaluation of the market.

According to WHSmith when assessing solutions the two most important selection criteria were a track record in the distributed retail environment and the flexibility to evolve to meet WHSmith‘s future needs. StepStone‘s end-to-end e-recruitment solution came out ahead on both scores:

“Several large retailers were using the StepStone solution and were clearly happy with it,” said WHSmith HR Director, Anthony Lawrence. “The functionality, user-friendliness and flexibility of the solution matched our needs very well. We were also impressed by the ethic of partnership with customers that StepStone displayed.”

WHSmith is a household name in the UK as an outlet for books, stationery and newspapers. It has more than 560 high-street stores; almost 500 travel outlets at airports, railway stations, hospitals and motorway service areas; and an online store. On average more than 1.2 million people visit a WHSmith outlet every day of the year. Most of the company‘s 17,000 staff were customers before they joined, and the company’s employer brand is important to its success.

A key benefit of the project has been a redevelopment of WHSmith‘s recruitment website, which became powered by the StepStone e-recruitment solution, to fully reflect its position as a leading employer and to enhance the candidate experience.

“When candidates apply online their details go directly into the StepStone system,” explains Anthony Lawrence. “Asking candidates to apply online made sense for us. The majority of our candidates are completely comfortable online and this becomes more true with every passing year.”

Early results of the roll-out in stores indicate that the StepStone e-recruitment solution is saving time for store managers at every step of the recruitment process. They don‘t have to look through as many applications because the system does some initial screening for them. Job adverts direct candidates to the online recruitment site where they answer initial qualification questions. Store managers are also saving time by letting the system schedule interviews and generate all correspondence with candidates. Internal processes, such as getting approvals from an area manager or getting references checked, are also more efficient now that they‘re done electronically.

Matthew Parker, Group Managing Director, StepStone Solutions adds: “Retail is so competitive and so people-focused that hiring the right staff, in large numbers, without excessive costs is key to success. WHSmith also has a long-established reputation as a people-oriented business, so extending and enhancing its employer brand through a high quality, candidate-friendly e-recuitment system is an important and logical development for the company.”

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