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How H&M took workforce planning to the next level

In the highly competitive world of fashion retailing, being able to meet the ever-changing demands of customers is a critical requirement. When those customers are spread across more than 70 countries and thousands of stores, the challenge becomes even more acute.

Staffing levels in each store need to be carefully matched to ensure sufficient people are rostered on to deal with peaks in customer visits. Too few staff will lead to frustrated customers while too many results in unnecessary costs.

At fashion retail giant H&M group, workforce planning has become a critical part of daily activity. The company operates some 4950 stores and has 126,000 employees. Each year, in-store and online sales generate more than $US22.3 billion in revenue.

The creation of H&M’s workforce planning system began back in 2012 when the company deployed Board to track the performance of individual stores. This capability was extended in 2014 to allow for basic function planning and then again in 2016 to provide dashboard capabilities for management teams.

“We wanted to be able to take advantage of data from a larger number of sources to give us better insights into our global operations,” says Aila Strub, Head of Workforce Management, H&M. “Also, rather than getting updates each day, we wanted to achieve insights on an hourly basis.”

The extensions to the Board platform mean that it now supports function planning and strategic decision making. Managers are able to enjoy a real-time view of retail activity across more 5000 points of sale.

In 2019, a decision was taken to extend the platform even further to allow it to provide more insight into store performance and customer activity. The goal was to better tailor staffing levels to meet fluctuations in customer numbers throughout each trading day. 

Customer activity levels at each store till is now analysed to determine how many staff hours were required to match demand. A similar exercise examines customer demands in fitting rooms.

Staffing requirements are also analysed to determine how many hours will be required to unpack stock deliveries and transfer items onto the shop floor. The goal is to have all items available for sale on the same day they are delivered.

The number of managers required to ensure that the store and online sales operate efficiently throughout the day is also analysed using Board. This is important to ensure than any issues can be resolved swiftly and customer requests handled in a timely manner.

“Once we have a detailed breakdown of all staffing requirements on an hourly basis throughout the day, this data is then sent to our scheduling system so that staff rosters can be created and issued to the workforce,” says Strub. “We can be confident that each store roster will accurately reflect the changes in customer traffic that will be experienced during opening hours.”

With the planning functionality now fully operational, future plans include making scheduling data and reports available to managers on their mobile devices.

“We are also looking to generate workforce planning reports that show how accurately staffing level estimates matched actual customer demand,” says Strub. “This will ensure our in-store customer experiences continue to be at the very highest level.”

For further information on H&M’s deployment of Board and to watch the webinar on demand visit