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Students helped S Group develop its employer image

S Group aims to make job opportunities offered by the company more appealing to chef students.
Ruoka-annos, joka kuvittaa juttua opiskelijaprojektista, joka tehtiin S-Ryhmälle.
Photo: Picture bank of S Group, Mikko Mäntyniemi

A growing shortage of chefs is a challenge also for S Group, a major employer in the restaurant industry. Employer image has a significant impact on attracting and engaging employees, so it is an aspect worth considering during a company's strategic planning.

In this project, students researched chef students working life expectations and S-Group's employer image among chef students, resulting in recommendations for further development. The project was carried out by two Aalto University School of Business students: Anette Hämäläinen, master’s student of Human Resources Management, and Markus Nieminen, bachelor’s student of Economics.

S Group will continue working on developing its employer image based on students’ recommendations

The students reported that the project was very intensive, they only had a couple of months for carrying it out and the research material had to be as extensive as possible.

‘During the project, we learned about the importance of employer image, carrying out a quantitative study and its analysis and how focus group interviews help to accumulate versatile and comprehensive material. Of course, it was also very interesting to see how employer image was being developed at S Group’, the students say.

‘From the start, Anette and Markus were very well prepared. They jumped into the project eagerly, but they also approached it with appropriate gravity. The project proceeded according to our agreed schedule, and the outcome was even better than what we had hoped for’, describes Ira Kuivalainen, HR Specialist at SOK.

Pekka Ruuth, HRD Director at S Group, agrees with his colleague and adds that the project succeeded beyond expectations regarding both quality and scope.

‘This was the best executed student project that I have seen in my career. We will definitely be using the results for developing our employer image and for cooperating with educational institutions. This customised student project also complemented the research and results we had produced internally.’

Aiming for significant positive long-term effects

The project consisted of focus group interviews with chef students and an electronic survey. In addition, students interviewed some of S Group's specialists that helped find relevant issues for the interviews and surveys. Once the challenges and most important areas of development were clear, Anette and Markus carried out focus group interviews in Helsinki, Kuopio and Pori. The resulting findings were used as a basis for a survey that was distributed nationally in different educational institutions.

‘Based on the focus groups and statistical analysis of the results, we were able to give S Group concrete recommendations for developing their employer image. We believe that our recommendations will have significant positive long-term effects, meaning that chefs will be more interested in job opportunities with S-Group.’

‘An active approach, cooperation and perseverance helped complete this project successfully. A customised student project is an excellent opportunity for students to apply their skills, challenge themselves and learn new things in a short period of time’, says project supervisor, researcher Iiro Vaniala from the Department of Marketing.

Opiskelijat ja S-ryhmäläiset
Ira Kuivalainen, HR Specialist at SOK, students Markus Nieminen and Anette Hämäläinen and Pekka Ruuth, HRD Director at S Group

The Customized Student Business Projects concept offers students the opportunity to work on solving current challenges faced by corporate business, giving the assigning company the possibility to develop and spar new ideas together with the students.

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