Jungle Juice Bar | A successful retail pivot in times of change

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Established in 2010 by two eager Finnish entrepreneurs, Jungle Juice Bar’s company culture has been value-driven from day one. The simple, straight-forward values of FUN & TRIBE perfectly describe the family-like working environment where peer support is a strong focus, while FRESH is a highly visible value demonstrated by the chain’s commitment to hand-made products that only use raw and healthy ingredients.

Building the groundwork for better HR

In January 2020, Jungle Juice tribe member Elli Holappa stepped up to become the group’s CEO. While the company had seen expansion over a successful 10-year period, it was fast approaching the point where a key challenge needed to be solved. They needed to build a centralised HR process so the company’s growth would not be affected by the inefficiencies of managing high volumes of staff in need of part-time, flexible shift patterns that changed monthly.

“We had an HR system of sorts in place, but it was not capable of fulfilling our needs. We needed a way to quickly update employee agreements, as we have many part-time contracts to handle each month. We thought it would be fair to let our employees update their hourly agreements on a monthly basis according to their current needs.

“This used to mean a lot of manual labour. Thankfully, Sympa changed that. Today, Sympa is integrated with our workforce management planning system (WFM), and all employees can change their monthly availability and access all relevant employee data in one central location, including contract details, holiday bonuses, sick leave status, appraisal discussions, and more. Sympa is the one crucial point of data for us.”

Adapting to sudden changes

2020 was supposed to be a year of celebration for Jungle Juice Bar, as the company was preparing for its 10-year anniversary. When COVID-19 reared its head in early spring, the company – like countless others – had to scrap its plans and was instead forced to make some radical changes.

Jungle Juice Bar locations are usually connected to shopping centres and commuting hubs so they can serve passing shoppers, pedestrians, and commuters in need of a fresh, healthy energy boost. Lockdown saw footfall rates collapse, and quick action was needed before the business was in serious jeopardy.

“After March 2020, all our initial plans for the year went out the window. We were faced with sudden, new challenges, and we had to be decisive. A crisis team and cost-savings plan were among the first things we put into place as we started to navigate the shift. Luckily, we had the HR system in place to give us crucial data that supported many of the tough decisions we had to make.”

A rapid pivot – with help of Sympa

Still new in the role, Holappa faced the twin challenges of growing into her roles as CEO while providing support to more than 450 employees undergoing the lay-off documentation process.

She further explains: “As the company mainly employs young students taking their first steps into employment, many weren’t familiar with the union negotiations processes.” It was up to the leadership team to provide support that helped employees successfully navigate the procedural steps.

“The Sympa team helped us share a digital lay-off form with employees through our HR system within 24 hours of us asking for their help. Their excellent system support and understanding of the tough times our employees were facing meant we could give clear, actionable advice with minimum delay. Without Sympa, this already unpleasant process would have been a total nightmare.”

Helping others by living our culture

Even though times were tough, the Jungle Juice Bar team still wanted to adhere to the values and culture that had brought it so far. With most operations temporarily shut down, the company did not want its stockpile of fresh fruit to go to waste.

“We were in a tough place, but we decided the best thing we could do was to help others any way we could. Our amazing staff agreed, and we ended up donating more than 2500 smoothies to hospital staff in Finland and Sweden. It is a credit to our company culture that even during times of personal challenge, our tribe chose to do the best with what we had and helped others.”

Looking to the future

To strengthen the company’s people operations even further – even during times of disruption – Jungle Juice Bar will strongly focus on nurturing the strong bond with its employees it has built through open dialogue, centralised processes, and in-depth HR master data.

“Sympa has played a key role in building and maintaining our vibrant culture. It is also central to how Jungle Juice Bar will develop in the future. Today, we can quickly handle all HR processes, which gives us more time to connect with our employees and understand what they need. This open dialogue has helped us produce new and creative ideas that will support the company’s growth and innovation tomorrow.”