Jobs in firing line as Sainsbury’s plans to centralise its HR function

HR jobs at Sainsbury’s are under threat following a radical shake-up of its HR function affecting up to 1,800 employees.

The retail giant announced plans last month to launch a £12m HR shared services centre to improve its service to 147,000 employees in 450 stores across the country. It currently runs all its retail HR from individual stores.

This new scheme is part of a wider programme to move the HR function to a more centralised, paperless system, according to Sainsbury’s retail HR director Helen Webb. “Phase one will see a gradual process to turn off the current labour intensive system,” she told Personnel Today. “The new software system will free up personnel managers from their admin duties to focus more time on training and coaching our staff and managers.”

Webb admitted she was unsure how many clerks – staff who undertake day-to-day HR activities such as payroll – would have a job at the end of the programme.

“Each Sainsbury’s store has a clerical team of between two and three people, and one personnel and training manager,” she said. “We are not sure how many clerical tasks will be left at the end of the programme. However, we will do our best to re-deploy our clerks into other roles over the next few years.”

The supermarket chain has already introduced ‘change coaches’ for each of its geographic regions, cherry-picking 33 HR managers and giving them the skills to train the store’s teams in the new processes, she added.

The new centre will be based in Manchester’s Arndale Tower, creating 250 new jobs over the next two years. The service will begin this autumn, and aims to be fully operational by the spring of 2009.

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