Auchan Hungary – Reaching out to Customers and Raising Awareness Through the Employment of People with Altered Working Capacity

The French multinational company has over 1500 retail shops around the world, and 19 stores and petrol stations in Hungary. The total number of employees in Hungary is close to 7000, 6% of whom have altered working capacity.

Detailed description of practice and its goals

The French-owned Auchan has been employing people with altered working capacity since 2009. Since 2010 the company has been awarded the Disability friendly Workplace award three times. Currently, Auchan employs 366 employees with altered working capacity, amounting to 5.8% of the entire workforce. The company is planning to further increase this proportion to 6% by 2015, and to increase the total number to 1000 by 2018.

The company is in contact with close to 50 organisations, foundations and service providers which assist in the employment of people with altered working capacity. Originally, candidates were hired for preexisting jobs, mostly to work as cashiers, hosts or hostesses, shelf fillers and in packaging. Since 2013 new jobs have been created from tasks that belonged to previously existing jobs. Such new jobs include, for instance, double-checking expiry dates, attending to the plants in the store’s gardening section, or applying theft-protection devices – these all focus on a specific work process.

The company is consciously using the Disability-friendly brand in its marketing activities and as part of its CSR strategy. The employment of people with altered working capacity will be included in the company’s equal opportunities strategy, which is under development at the moment, and is an element of annual company policy as well. The most recent company policy went beyond employment and sought to increase the efficiency of these employees.


Background, participants and their responsibilities

The employment of people with altered working capacity was initiated locally, although the practice of employing people with hearing impairments as cashiers in Polish stores provided an example. The Hungarian branch also recruited people with hearing impairments first, which in itself changed the recruitment process and demanded new techniques and tests but also required a change in the approach taken by the HR department as well.


Actual hiring for the first time was preceded by solid preparatory work, in which the company’s employees were also involved.


By 2013 the increase in the number of people with altered working capacity at the company called for a separate position to be created for overseeing their recruitment and employment: this is the HR manager responsible for the employment of persons with altered working capacity.


“(…) we make no difference whatsoever between
them or other employees; they are undifferentiated
members of our teams and we strive to enable all our
employees to create added value.”

(HR employee)


Difficulties, strengths, results and key success factors

At the beginning of the programme the main goal was to find the most appropriate methods for recruitment, integration, etc. The company had to deal with a great number of new phenomena and new tasks, which those responsible for launching the programme tried to resolve in close cooperation with the help of experts and specialized organisations. By now the company has accumulated substantial experience in this area; however, new tasks and development needs continue to arise. Such tasks include, for instance, finding an appropriate way of indicating to customers that the person at the cashier’s desk has a disability. This was necessary in order to avoid any misunderstanding. Eventually, a sign was developed which informs shoppers that the person at the cashier’s desk is hearing impaired, so if he or she does not react to everything that the customer says, it may be because of this impairment.

How can the company recruit more people with altered working capacity and retain them? This is a key question for the company, as the past couple of years have shown that there are fewer candidates for these positions and they remain at the company for shorter periods of time.


Assessment of the practice and its results

The company is seeking to employ people with altered working capacity in all of its stores in Hungary, including those in the countryside. Given the company size, Auchan is considered to be a large employer with respect to the employment of people with altered working capacity.


The fact that there are people with hearing impairments at the cashier’s desks is also a way to raise awareness about people with disabilities, given that they are in constant interaction with thousands of customers each day.


A potential measure of the success of the programme is whether the company can provide training or development opportunities for its employees with altered working capacity, which could also serve as an incentive for these employees to stay longer at the company.


További tudnivalók

Esélyegyenlőségi terv: