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Improving the front-line associate experience at PetSmart - Retail Gets Real episode 338: HR talent leader Theresa Lee on culture, communication development and a growth mindset

Ever wondered what it takes to keep the tails wagging at PetSmart? 🐾 Join Theresa Lee, HR Talent Leader, as she discusses enhancing PetSmart's associate experience on Retail Gets Real. With over 50,000 spet-passionate associates caring for nine million pets yearly, Theresa highlights the importance of a pet-centric workplace. Tune in to learn about the Central Bark app, which connects associates and fosters community, and explore the happiness, leadership philosophy, and PetSmart's inclusive culture. 🐾🌟 #LifeAtPetSmart



As exciting and unpredictable as the retail industry is, adding live animals to the mix — and finding the people to care for those animals — adds a whole other level of challenges for human resource professionals like Theresa Lee.


“It’s a special type of person who can have that love of pets be at the forefront of how they’re operating every single day, and keeping calm and making sure that it’s a great experience,” says Lee, PetSmart’s vice president, HR talent, culture and strategy, on this episode of Retail Gets Real, recorded live at NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show. “It’s the experience that the pets deserve and it’s the experience that the pet parents deserve.”

Besides being a one-stop shop for pet supplies, PetSmart takes care of nine million pets a year, from grooming and boarding to training and even in-store veterinary care via third-party clinics. To do that, the retailer employs approximately 50,000 associates across 1,660 stores, seven distribution centers and two home offices.


Making sure PetSmart finds and retains the top talent falls on Lee, who says “top talent tends to be attracted to us” because of a work environment “that is so connected to pets. It draws people to you, which is a huge benefit that we have in our talent attraction strategy.”


PetSmart has made a concerted effort over the past few years to understand their associates and what keeps them happy. “We take those learnings and we apply them back to our home office,” she says. “It goes both ways. You can’t just learn what it is that’s not working or what is working. You also have to pull that back into your home office and help that team understand what the impact of their decisions might be.”

NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show


Lee says it’s important to listen to what associates are saying. “They’re asking for things that are very operational in nature, right? They’re not saying, ‘Man, it would be great if we could have X, Y, Z benefit,’ or, you know, have pizza for lunch every day,” she says. “It’s, ‘Help me have a grooming salon that can operate better so that when I leave work, I’m not stressed.’”


To facilitate associate communications, PetSmart recently rolled out an app called Central Bark which can be installed on store-owned or associate-owned mobile devices. It allows associates to access company news and resources right at their fingertips. It’s also built a sense of community among the more than 50,000 associates, Lee says.

“What our associates love about Central Bark is that it created this community where they got to suddenly be connected to all the salon associates or all the pet care associates or all the cashiers,” she says. “The people who are their network outside of their store, and they share ideas and collaborate and ask questions and troubleshoot. It’s pretty incredible.”


So far, more than 70% of PetSmart associates have signed up for the app. “It’s really having a really interesting impact on our associates’ happiness at work,” she says.

Listen to the full episode to hear more about Lee’s career journey, her personal leadership philosophy, what today’s employees really want from their HR departments, and how PetSmart’s fun and inclusive culture includes bringing pets of all shapes, sizes, and species — not just dogs and cats — to the office.


This is a repost for PetSmart associate and candidate awareness. See the original article here: https://nrf.com/blog/improving-front-line-associate-experience-petsmart

1 Comment


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han gu
Jun 05

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